St Petersburg: A battered and bruised Neymar will be the focus point when Brazil make an attempt to get back on track in the World Cup here Friday as the pre-tournament favourites seek to re-assert their title credentials with victory over Costa Rica.
Neymar was given a rough ride in Brazil’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Switzerland Sunday, fouled 10 times during the match, the most for any player in a single World Cup game for 20 years.
Neymar is one of the best players in the world and so important. Of course having him in our side is a big plus for us. He always build-up the play and creates space
However, questions remain whether he is seriously lacking match practice. The Selecaos, Brazil popularly known as, looked to their talisman time and again in the final stages in Rostov-on-Don, but he failed to find the final pass or finish to unlock a well-organised Switzerland defence.
Instead, it was Philippe Coutinho who got Brazil’s campaign off to a flying start with a wonderful long range strike. In contrast to Neymar, Coutinho ended the season in sensational form for Barcelona after sealing his dream move from Liverpool. Should Neymar not be fit, Coutinho could be moved into his role on the left of a front three with Tite bolstering his midfield.
Needing a break and to relieve the pressure with a win, Brazil could hardly have picked better opposition in Los Ticos, who have only beaten Brazil once in 10 meetings way back in 1960.
Costa Rica shocked England, Italy and Uruguay to reach the quarter-finals four years ago, but are even more in need of the points after losing 1-0 to Serbia in their opening game.
Neymar returns to training
Sochi: Brazil is making sure everyone knows Neymar is perfectly fit at the World Cup. A day after he limped out of training and raised further doubts about his physical condition in Russia, the Brazilian soccer federation was quick to tell the world the team’s biggest star was just fine. Brazil had a closed practice session Wednesday but the federation posted photos and a video of Neymar in action in training with the rest of the squad. The images showed him exchanging passes and making challenges and touching the ball in his injured right ankle. In a longer version of the video sent to journalists, Neymar took free kicks.
- Thiago Silva will lead Brazil against Costa Rica as Selecaos continues their long-standing policy of rotating the team leadership
- Brazil played out 1-1 stalemate against Switzerland while Costa Rica lost to Serbia 0-1 in their respective campaign openers