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Neymar headlines World Cup 'favorite'

China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-16 10:02
Neymar in action against England in a friendly at London's Wembley Stadium last November. [Photo/Agencies]

RIO DE JANEIRO-Neymar, who hasn't played since sustaining an injury in February, was named Monday as the main cog in a Brazilian team that coach Tite said has a good chance of winning the World Cup in Russia.

"Brazil is one of the favorites given the football it has shown, given its consistency," Tite said at the team announcement in Rio de Janeiro.

He said the national team, seeking a record sixth championship, stands out for "being "aggressive and scoring goals".

"That's not being arrogant, it's just telling the truth," Tite said.

Neymar's return will be a key factor.

The starry striker has been out since requiring surgery for a foot fracture sustained while playing for Paris Saint-Germain and is only now easing back into training.

Team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said he is hopeful, with the bone making "excellent progress".

Neymar should be able to "regain match fitness" when he takes part in friendlies against Croatia on June 3 and Austria on June 10, Lasmar said.

Brazil will need him showing all the skills that made him the world's most expensive soccer player after a record $264 million transfer from Barcelona to PSG last August.

"We will be a good deal stronger with Neymar. He's one of the three best players in the world, but for him to be at his peak he needs a solid team around him," Tite said.

Last week, the team was hit with the loss of rightback Dani Alves to a knee injury.

Tite's 23-man squad, which was without any other major hiccups, saw Alves replaced by Danilo (Manchester City) and Fagner, whom Tite knows from his time at the helm of Corinthians' 2015 national champion.

Fagner is currently carrying an injury of his own but has been cleared by Lasmar to play in Russia.

After sweeping aside South American opponents in the qualifiers, Brazil is seen as one of the strongest sides at the World Cup. Its campaign begins against Switzerland on June 17, with matches against Costa Rica and Serbia to follow.

Brazil's president, Michel Temer, tweeted his support after the team announcement.

"With all due respect to our Russian hosts and friends, please bring home the trophy" Temer said.

Brazil squad

Goalkeepers: Alisson (Roma), Cassio (Corinthians), Ederson (Manchester City).

Defenders: Danilo (Manchester City), Fagner (Corinthians), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Miranda (Inter Milan), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), Geromel (Gremio).

Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Paulinho (Barcelona), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guo'an), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona), Willian (Chelsea)

Forwards: Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Douglas Costa (Juventus), Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk)

AFP

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