RIO DE JANEIRO: Neymar, Fernandinho and Thiago Silva are in for the Copa America, Lucas Moura, Fabinho and Vinicius Jr. are out.
Brazil coach Tite named his squad on Friday for the South American tournament, which starts in Sao Paulo on June 14, and as expected, Paris St Germain striker Neymar was included despite his recent injury problems and league suspension for an altercation with a fan.
Tite said Neymar made a mistake by getting involved in the altercation after PSG’s loss in the French Cup. The coach said he would have a private conversation with the player when they next meet.
Tite also refused to say whether Neymar will remain the team captain during the tournament.
“I understand your questions, but I will speak to Neymar first. Not on the phone, personally. And I will not speak about this for now because I will speak to Neymar before I speak to you,” the coach said at the Brazilian football confederation headquarters.
Neymar’s PSG team-mate Silva, 34, has been suffering from a knee issue since mid-April but was included after Brazil’s physio Fabio Mahseredjian said the former captain could be in a “good condition” by May 28.
Fernandinho was blamed in some circles for Brazil’s elimination from the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, but he has enjoyed an excellent Premier League season under Pep Guardiola and retains the confidence of the Brazil manager.
“Fernandinho knows what we expect, he knows his responsibility,” Tite told reporters, saying he was mature enough to cope with past criticism.
One of the most notable absentees was that of Liverpool’s Fabinho despite his key role in his team’s push to the Champions League final and the runners-up spot in the Premier League.
“Choosing two holding midfielders between Casemiro, Fernandinho and Fabinho is hard,” Tite added. “Fabinho is going through a great moment, it was very difficult ... All three are playing at the top level and it hurts a coach to choose but that’s my job.”
There was no space for Tottenham Hotspur’s Champions League hero Moura despite his hat-trick in last week’s semi-final second leg against Ajax nor for Real Madrid youngster Vinicius Junior as Tite opted for David Neres, Richarlison, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, and Everton, one of three home-based players in the squad, up front alongside Neymar.
“It was the hardest list I have had to put together. I had sleepless nights,” the coach said.
Brazil’s players will start gathering at the Granja Comary training ground outside Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. The team will play two friendlies before the Copa America begins, facing Qatar on June 5 in Brasilia and Honduras four days later in Porto Alegre.
The eight-time winners face Bolivia, Venezuela and Peru in the group stage, which start on June 14.
Brazil, who last won the continental title in 2007, reached the quarter-finals at last year’s World Cup but lost to Belgium.
All 10 South American nations will participate, along with guests Qatar and Japan.
Argentina, with Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero expected to attend, are hoping to end a 36-year trophy drought at the home of their fiercest rivals, while Chile, champions in the last two tournaments, aim to defend their title.
Squad: Goalkeepers: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Cassio (Corinthians); Defenders: Alex Sandro (Juventus), Dani Alves (Paris St Germain), Marquinhos (Paris St Germain), Thiago Silva (Paris St Germain), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Fagner (Corinthians), Felipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Miranda (Inter Milan); Midfielders: Allan (Napoli), Arthur (Barcelona), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Lucas Paqueta (AC Milan), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona); Strikers: David Neres (Ajax), Everton (Gremio), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Neymar (Paris St-Germain), Richarlison (Everton).
Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2019