Neymar leads Brazil’s World Cup squad

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Neymar Jr will be part of the Brazil 23-man squad going to Russia for the Fifa World Cup.

The Paris St-Germain forward is currently recovering from a broken bone in his foot, sustained during a league win over Olympique de Marseille in February. He has not played since.

But head coach Tite has chosen to include the newly-crowned French Ligue 1 Player of the Year in his team anyway.

The team

Gremio centre half Pedro Geromel and Corinthians pair, keeper Cássio and full-back Fagner, are the surprise inclusions in the squad.

They are also the only three men in the final 23 who currently play for a club in the Brazilian leagues.

Cássio was called up as the third goalkeeper behind Alisson (AS Roma) and Manchester City’s Ederson.

Geromel, who has just two caps, was instrumental in leading Porto Alegre side to win the Copa Libertadores last season.

Fagner or Manchester City’s Danilo are supposed to replace Dani Alves. Neymar’s club team-mate would have been a sure-fire pick in defence, but the 107-cap stalwart picked up an injury playing in the French Cup final and has been ruled out.

Marcelo (Real Madrid), and Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid) make up the other full-back selections, while Thiago Silva (PSG), Marquinhos (PSG), and Miranda (Inter Milan) complete the central defenders.

Tite has selected seven men to make up his central midfield, six of whom play in Europe.

Renato Augusto, of China’s Beijing Guoan, is the sole choice from outside that continent, with the others playing in England, Spain, and Ukraine.

They are Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Paulinho (Barcelona), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona), and Willian (Chelsea).

Neymar is the stand-out name from the five forwards in the final squad.

But his counterparts Douglas Costa (Juventus), Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), and Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) have all enjoyed stellar seasons at club level.

Jesus has made an impression at Man City despite being out with a knee injury until February, while Firmino has produced his best goalscoring return of his three seasons at Anfield.

The final countdown

The 23 men will get together for a pre-World Cup training camp in London on 27 May, before heading north to play a friendly against Croatia at Firmino’s home ground.

It will also be familiar territory for Coutinho, who spent five years at Liverpool before moving to Barcelona in January.

A second warm-up game is scheduled in Vienna against Austria on 10 June before the team depart for final preparations in Sochi the day after.

Brazil open their World Cup campaign on 17 June in Rostov-on-Don, where they will play Switzerland. Their other group opponents are Costa Rica and Serbia.

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Author: ZK Goh
Olympic Channel news producer/reporter. All-round sports nerd.