Neymar is preparing for a World Cup battle with Lionel Messi

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After being nominated to the Brazil team for three World Cup qualifiers on Friday, Neymar will play his new clubmate Lionel Messi in a South American grudge match.

Six members of the team who won the Olympic title by overcoming Spain in extra time on August 7 were also called up by coach Tite. Dani Alves, the Olympic team’s captain, is accompanied by fellow gold medalists Matheus Cunha, who scored in the final, Richarlison, the tournament’s top scorer in Japan, Bruno Guimaraes, Guilherme Arana, and Claudinho.

After six matches, Brazil leads the 10-team South American World Cup qualification group, and the competition has a demanding week as it seeks to catch up after two rounds were postponed in March due to a coronavirus outbreak and international quarantine restrictions.

On September 2, Brazil travels to Santiago to play Chile, then to Sao Paulo three days later to play Argentina in a rescheduled encounter before traveling more than 2,200 kilometers north to Pernambuco to play Peru on September 9. Argentina has beaten Brazil in the Copa America final in July at the Maracana since March, and Argentine captain Messi has departed Barcelona to join Neymar at PSG.

Tite’s team has won all six of their games so far, conceding just two goals in the process, but despite scoring 16 goals, they haven’t been very thrilling. They also appeared lackluster in the Copa del Rey knockout stages, as they struggled to score. Tite said in a virtual press conference that while he was dissatisfied with the final result, he was pleased with how the team had progressed during the Copa.

He said Brazil “set some objectives in the Copa America, one of which was the title, which we didn’t get, but there were 23 athletes who participated in the competition” and the squad “modified its basic offensive structure.” Only the 38-year-old Alves, one of three allowed over-age squad members in Japan, is older than 24.

Tite expressed his delight in the promotion of younger players to the senior team. “There is a commonality in the way players carry themselves, in the way we see football,” he remarked, referring to the integration with the younger age groups.

“It is really crucial for a young player to look at the national squad and see the examples of professionals.”

Raphinha, a 24-year-old Leeds attacker, was called up for the first time by Tite. “We’ve been keeping an eye on Raphinha for a long,” Tite explained.

“He has an excellent dribbling skill, has scored several critical goals, is a decisive player, and is what we refer to as ‘the key to the goal.'” Before the games, Tite will choose his captain. Neymar has previously led Brazil. Thiago Silva led the team to victory in the Copa America. Casimeiro has also served as the team’s captain this season.

FIFA has extended the international window in September and October by two days to allow teams to catch up, much to the anger of European leagues who loathe having their South American stars away for so long.


Goalkeepers: Alisson (Liverpool, ENG), Ederson (Manchester City, ENG), Weverton (Palmeiras). Defenders: Dani Alves (Sao Paulo), Danilo (Juventus, ITA), Alex Sandro (Juventus, ITA), Guilherme Arana (Atletico Mineiro), Eder Militao (Real Madrid, ESP), Lucas Verissimo (Benfica, POR), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA), Thiago Silva (Chelsea).Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid, ESP), Bruno Guimaraes (Lyon, FRA), Claudinho (Zenit, RUS), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Fabinho (Liverpool, ING), Fred (Manchester United, ING), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon, FRA). Forwards: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool, ENG), Gabriel Barbosa (Flamengo), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City, ENG), Mateus Cunha (Hertha Berlin, GER), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA), Raphinha (Leeds, ENG), Richarlison (Everton, ENG).


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