Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

Brazil's Neymar to return from injury against Croatia

Neymar-Brazil GETTYWorld Cup 2018 Neymar will be hoping to fire Brazil to glory this summer
Diane Mills | 04 June, 2018, 07:43

Only three months ago, Brazil striker Neymar was on an operating table and in danger of missing the World Cup in Russian Federation.

Receiving a pass from Philippe Coutinho, Neymar cut into the area, beating Sime Vrsaljko and Duje Caleta-Car with impressive close control and dribbling, before burying a shot into the roof of the goal, via the crossbar, from the edge of the six-yard area.

Wearing the number 10 shirt, made famous by Pele, Neymar's popularity soared after he led Brazil to their first Olympic gold medal win in Rio in 2014. He did not warm up with the Brazilian team on Sunday, which had again raised concerns among supporters.

He joined Jesus and Willian in attack, with Coutinho dropping into the midfield place vacated by Fernandinho.

Tite was not getting carried away, though.

"He will have to go through stages - he is going to have his ups and downs but by the third, fourth or fifth game he will be back to his level".

"It is lovely to watch him play again, he is special, one of the best in the world", Modric said.

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Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scored Brazil's second goal in the 90th. Brazil "improved in the second half after Neymar made the difference". I'm here to help and give my best whenever Tite needs. "I respect Tite's opinion [in starting with Jesus] 100 per cent", Firmino said. "Not as much as a wide player, he's better though the middle".

Brazil head to Russian Federation as one of the favourites but this was a largely flat display, despite Tite choosing to start Gabriel Jesus, Willian and Philippe Coutinho, making his first appearance at the stadium since leaving Liverpool for Barcelona in January.

Until Neymar stepped onto the pitch it was Croatia which had the best opportunities in a match that seemed headed for a tiresome draw.

Brazil: Alisson (7), Danilo (6,5), Marcelo (7), Thiago Silva (7), Miranda (7), Casemiro (8), Fernandinho (6), Willian (7,5), Coutinho (7) and Jesus (6,5).

Tite has one of the deepest squads to choose from at this summer's World Cup, but some players are irreplaceable and Dani Alves certainly looks to fit that bill.

Monday will be a rest day for the team and Brazilian media claimed midfielder Fred will be travelling to Manchester for medical tests before signing a deal with Manchester United.

Neymar became the world's most expensive footballer when he signed from Barcelona for 222 million euros ($264 million) last August and he is expected to start in the opening Group E game against Switzerland on June 17 even if he is short of full match fitness.

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