The Brazilian Football Federation said no serious injury was detected in an MRI scan yesterday, but the player did not join the rest of the squad for training at the Arena Castelao, where Brazil play their second World Cup match.
The federation said a decision on whether Hulk can play will only be made today after doctors re-evaluate his condition. “We will look at how the whole situation develops and then we can make an evaluation before the match,” Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said.
Hulk left the field less than 15 minutes into Sunday’s practice session in Brazil’s training camp in Rio de Janeiro. He said he has had the injury since before the opening Group A win against Croatia, when he was substituted late in the second half, but expected to play against the Mexicans despite the “discomfort”.
“If he can’t play we lose something because this team has been playing together for a long time with this same system,” Scolari said.
Brazil have been playing with virtually the same starting line-up since last year’s Confederations Cup, the World Cup warm-up tournament it convincingly won at home. Scolari says that’s a big reason for the team’s recent success, which includes 16 wins in their last 17 matches. If Hulk is sidelined, Scolari will probably chose between Chelsea midfielder Ramires and 21-year-old Shakhtar Donetsk striker Bernard.
“If it happens that he can’t play, it will be a big setback for us,” Brazil captain Thiago Silva said. “It’s always sad to lose someone because of an injury. But Felipao picked 23 players who can play at any time so he can choose a substitute with his eyes closed.”
The coach said he wouldn’t have “a problem at all” finding a replacement for Hulk if the Zenit striker isn’t fit to play. “In my opinion I did a good job picking the players for my squad,” he said.
In the Mexico camp, Hector Herrera is the heart and soul of the midfield and great things are expected of him at this World Cup, but it could have easily have turned out otherwise.
Just four years ago, Herrera was scrambling around in the lower reaches of the Mexican league on pitiful wages. His wife was pregnant and thought her young husband should abandon his dream of a successful football career.
“I wasn’t earning anything and obviously I knew there were gynaecologist’s fees to pay. It was a difficult time,” Herrera said. “We talked about it a lot and she told me I should stop playing and we should start working, and I said to her: ‘No, wait, I know we can do better if I’m playing than if I stop and we both start working’.” He was right.
Herrera got his big break with Mexican first division side Pachuca, and his career has continued to flourish – including a gold medal with Mexico at the London Olympics and then a dream move to Europe with Porto.