Sambafoot Sunday: Cruciate curse affects Seleção hopes of three midfielders
Sambafoot Sunday by James Nalton. The beat goes on...
The following article is a story of three midfielders. A trio who were regarded as nailed on choices for Brazil squads for years to come, and destined for the top of the game.
Brazil and Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva was once talked about as a future captain; such is the camaraderie he instils in a dressing room. A real dogged defender and an accomplished passer, he also displayed a willingness to burst forward to influence attacks during his time with Grêmio.
Former Internacional destroyer Sandro was once an unstoppable force, moving to Tottenham Hotspur to demonstrate this power in the English Premier League, and attracting interest from the likes of Real Madrid on a regular basis.
Vasco da Gama and Brazil youth star Rômulo was part of a new look Brazil, and became the level headed controller in Mano Menezes’ Seleção rebuild. He was the man who stopped the opposition, and freed up a new generation of Brazilian flair ahead of him.
There’s no doubt that these players would have become Brazil’s best midfield options, with all three having proved capable of playing both the Volante role (now occupied by Luiz Gustavo), and also the more box-to-box number eight position (Paulinho) at some point in their careers.
In recent years disaster struck for all three, as they suffered massive setbacks in the shape of an injury which all footballers must dread – the ACL tear. All three players suffered damage to the anterior cruciate ligament, with Sandro also damaging his lateral meniscus, and Rômulo injuring his posterior and lateral ligaments at the same time. In an attempt to prevent this from turning into an entry to a medical journal, let’s just say that these injuries are quite bad.
Rômulo was out for over a year and a half, and is only just returning to full training after two operations on the knee. Both Sandro and Lucas have suffered further injuries since, as these long lay-offs often have a knock-on effect on other parts of the body. All three players are currently injured again or returning from injury as we speak, and with a World Cup on home soil in just five months, the prospect of a call-up looks bleak for all three.
None have had chance to embed themselves in Scolari’s Brazil plans, with only Lucas Leiva seeing some reasonable game time during the manager’s second stint in charge of Brazil. With just one official friendly to come before the World Cup squads are announced, the chances of a call-up for Lucas will depend on the speed his recovery from his latest injury, with Sandro’s chances of inclusion looking slim, and Rômulo’s non-existent.