How Neymar killed Brazil's World Cup chances
IF ONE image defines Brazil at this World Cup it is the one of star striker Neymar crying out in pain while demanding action from the referee.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker's theatrics have been widely condemned by former players and football fans during the past three weeks in Russia.
He is hardly the first footballer to be accused of diving and he won't be the last. But the fact that Neymar rolling on the ground, seemingly in agony, is the main takeaway from Brazil at the World Cup shows how far the five-time winners have fallen.
The PSG star had a couple of penalty shouts rejected even after the VAR took a look, as his reputation came back to haunt him.
"The problem is he's been diving so much throughout the tournament. Is this the boy that cried wolf? He's his own worst enemy," former Socceroo Craig Foster told SBS after Brazil's 2-1 loss to Belgium on Saturday morning.
"That's exactly what's happened.
"He's killed himself, the way he's carried on through the tournament. He's ended up killing his team."
This World Cup was all about redemption for Brazil.
After Brazil's humiliating 7-1 loss to Germany in the semi-finals four years ago when hostingthe World Cup, 2018 was about restoring pride.
And when Germany was knocked out in the group stage and Brazil became favourites it seemed like it just might happen.
But Brazil failed to impress in Russia after being knocked out in the quarter-finals on Saturday in its loss to a Belgium team finally reaching its potential.
Juts like four years ago, Brazil sailed through the group stage without really impressing. And even a 2-0 win against Mexico didn't show a team that was a World Cup winner.
It's 16 years since Brazil last won the World Cup. That doesn't seem like long for a long-suffering England fan looking to add to the 1966 World Cup win. But for a Brazil team that dominated the 1990s and early 2000s it's a lifetime.
The Brazilian term "jogo bonito" - which means the Beautiful Game, or in many ways the Brazilian way to play - is long dead.
Brazil can no longer think that a squad with silky skills can just beat all-comers.
The struggles against Germany in 2014 prove that.
Neymar will become public enemy number one for football fans after his on-field antics in Russia.
But the bigger debate will be how Brazil returns to its former glory.
It's the debate the country was forced to have four years ago. But it finds itself in the same position after another World Cup failure.