Midfielder Casemiro feels sorry for Brazil’s rivals. Rich in resources, the record five-time champions are no short of new exciting talents.
“We, those who play in the back end, often joke that we feel sorry for our rivals because we can replace Raphinha for Antony, Richalison for Gabriel Jesus. We have Rodrygo, Gabriel Martinelli...,” the list goes on, says Casemiro.
But there is one man who holds the centre stage whether he is playing or not for Brazil.
Neymar is ruled out of South Americans second Group G match of the Qatar 2022 against Switzerland today, after suffering an ankle injury in their win over Serbia. Yet, the focus was entirely on the Paris Saint-Germain star on the match eve, with the striker a polarising figure in his home country. Reports state that some Brazilians celebrated their captain’s unavailability for the next game, or for the entire World Cup. Neymar has 75 goals in 122 games for his country, but fans believe Brazil are more balanced and effective in his absence.
Yesterday, Brazil coach Tite, his assistant Cesar Sampaio and defender Marquinhos were bombarded with questions over Neymar’s absence and his positive or negative influence on the squad in the 45-minute pre-match press conference at the Qatar National Convention Centre. Brazil will also be without reliable full back Danilo, also suffering from ankle injury, and there are question marks over Lucas Paqueta’s availability after the midfielder missed training at the Al Arabi Stadium due to illness.
“We’ve already decided the starting players but we will only be communicating that right before the game,” said Tite, holding his selection cards close to his chest.
The manager would not be drawn into the time frame on Neymar’s return, but insisted that it was not the end of the World Cup for his talisman. “Brazil is dependent on every great talent, and Neymar is an extraordinary talent,” he said.
“I believe that Neymar and Danilo will play again in the World Cup. Medically, clinically, I have no place to speak. But I do have our doctor’s opinion, the sensations talking to the players and seeing how hard they are working day and night to recover. I believe we will be able to count on them in the World Cup again,” he added.
Tite’s side put together the best-ever campaign in the South American qualifiers, recording 14 wins, three draws and no defeats and scoring 40 goals in total and conceding just five. Against Serbia, Brazil were loaded with attacking talent, however, Tite might be slightly conservative against the Swiss, who are likely to pose a bigger challenge today at the Stadium 974.
Real Madrid forward Rodrygo would be the first option if Tite decides to use the same system with four men up-front alongside Vinicius, Richarlison – who starred with a brace against Serbia – and Raphinha. The 21-year-old forward played in Neymar’s position in three Brazil practice games in Turin in the week prior to the World Cup. Tite also could pair Manchester United teammates Casemiro and Fred in the midfield. For Danilo,versatile centre back Eder Militao or veteran Dani Alves could come in.
Meanwhile, Switzerland’s manager Murat Yakin said Neymar’s absence will have no bearing in his side’s preparation and planning against one of the World Cup favourites. Today’s match will be the third time that Switzerland have played Brazil at the World Cup. The teams last met in the group stage of the 2018 tournament in Russia, where they drew 1-1. “I think Brazil has enough excellent players to build three teams,” Yakin said. “The challenge is not going to get easier for us.”
Switzerland edged Cameroon 1-0 in their opening match, and a win against Brazil would see them through to the round of 16 if Serbia fail to win against Cameroon in another match today. Midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, who has represented Switzerland in four consecutive World Cups, said his teammates are capable of getting a better result against Brazil this time. “That was a positive outcome,” Shaqiri said of the 2018 draw. “We are aware of what we can do and I think we have made progress. We have more experience and have been challenged by greater teams since.”


Brazil vs Switzerland

When: Today, 7pmWhere: Stadium 974Capacity: 44,089

Key stats:

Brazil, unbeaten in qualifying for Qatar, have won the World Cup five times and are favourites to win a record-extending sixth title.
Switzerland have reached the knockout stage in three of their last four World Cups - in 2006, 2014 and 2018 - but crashed out at the group stage in 2010.
Switzerland have reached the knockout stage in three of their last four World Cups - in 2006, 2014 and 2018 - but crashed out at the group stage in 2010.
Switzerland were unbeaten through qualifying, topping a group that included European champions Italy.

Previous meetings:

Today’s match will be the third time Brazil will have played Switzerland at the World Cup.
The teams last met in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where they drew 1-1. They also drew 2-2 at the 1950 World Cup.
In nine matches against Switzerland, Brazil have recorded three wins, four draws and two losses.