Neymar Better Not Get Caught Diving Because He’s One Of 32 Players On Yellows

When Miguel Layún stepped on Neymar’s leg during their Round of 16 matchup, the Brazilian star immediately kicked out at the Mexican offender. Almost as quickly, Neymar pretended to writhe around in immense pain. The reason for this odd little dance on the ground is simple — Neymar is one of the many players on yellows heading into the World Cup quarterfinals. 

Including Neymar, there are 32 players on yellows ahead of the quarterfinals. If any of them pick up another card on Friday or Saturday, they will be suspended for the semifinals. 

For the 2018 World Cup, yellow cards wipe after the quarterfinal round. This means any player who picks up two yellow cards in his team’s first five matches is suspended for a match, but those cards are cleared after the quarterfinals. This is done to prevent players from being suspended for the final. For many, it’s difficult to go through five heated matches without picking up two yellow cards to earn a suspension.

Neymar picked up a yellow card in the 81st minute of Brazil’s group-stage match against Costa Rica. Since then he’s been walking a tightrope 31 other players have been walking as the tournament progresses to its latter stages. 

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Against Mexico, Neymar reacted with a kick to Layún’s stomp but probably realized if he was perceived to have kicked an opponent, he’d likely see a card that would suspend him for the quarterfinals. Hence, he rolled around like a mad man (not for the first time) to avoid a suspension.

Neymar isn’t the only player who has to watch what he does in the quarterfinals on Friday and Saturday. These 32 players on yellows listed below must be on their best behaviors. For some, like Neymar, it means avoiding flops that could draw yellow cards for simulation. For midfielders like England's Jordan Henderson, it means not making a professional foul to stop a counterattack. For defenders like Belgium's Jan Vertonghen, it means not clattering into a player with unnecessary force.

Missing a key player to suspension in the semifinals can derail a team’s entire tournament. Four years ago, Brazil center back and captain Thiago Silva was suspended for the semifinal against Germany, and without him the Seleção imploded in a 7-1 defeat. 

There have been 189 yellow cards and four red cards in 56 matches at the World Cup thus far. That’s an average of about 3.4 yellow cards per match, or 1.7 yellow cards per team per match. There have been three matches with eight cards handed out (all yellows), including two in the Round of 16. There were two matches without any cards (Argentina-Iceland and Uruguay-Saudi Arabia). The record for most cards given in a single match is 16

On average, a team reaching the quarterfinal stage having played four matches will likely have accumulated six or seven yellow cards. Some players, like Sebastian Larsson of Sweden, have already served suspensions. Others, like Brazil’s Casemiro, are out for the quarterfinals.

The Croatia-Russia match will feature 13 players on yellows — a ridiculous 28 percent of the available players, including eight Croatians. Uruguay is the team least at risk, with just Rodrigo Betancur on a yellow card; Sweden has two players on yellows. 

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Every team has at least one major player at risk of a suspension for the semifinals. Stars such as Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Kevin De Bruyne, Aleksandr Golovin, Mario Mandžukić, Ivan Rakitić and Jordan Henderson are all vital to their teams and must be on their best behaviors in the quarterfinals.

The following is the list of players on yellows entering the quarterfinals.

Players On Yellows


  • MF Rodrigo Betancur


  • CF Olivier Giroud
  • CM Corentin Tolisso
  • RB Benjamin Pavard
  • CM Paul Pogba


  • CM Philippe Coutinho
  • LB Filipe Luís
  • LW Neymar


  • CM Kevin De Bruyne
  • CB Leander Dendoncker
  • RB Thomas Meunier
  • CM Youri Tielemans
  • CB Jan Vertonghen


  • CM Yury Gazinsky
  • CAM Aleksandr Golovin
  • CB Ilya Kutepov
  • ST Fyodor Smolov
  • CM Roman Zobnin


  • CDM Marcelo Brozović
  • CB Vedran Ćorluka
  • RB Tin Jedvaj
  • ST Mario Mandžukić
  • RW Marko Pjaca
  • CM Ivan Rakitić
  • RW Ante Rebić
  • RB Šime Vrsaljko


  • RM Viktor Claesson
  • CM Albin Ekdal


  • CM Jordan Henderson
  • CAM Jesse Lingard
  • CAM Ruben-Loftus Cheek
  • CB Kyle Walker

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