133rd Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra45795629935616142 Tamil Nadu2682852087844349 Andhra Pradesh176333956251604 Karnataka145830692722704 Delhi1391561252264033 Uttar Pradesh100310572711817 West Bengal80984568841785 Telangana6894649675563 Gujarat65704485612529 Bihar6203140760349 Assam4816233429115 Rajasthan4667932832732 Haryana3779631226448 Odisha3768124483258 Madhya Pradesh3508225414912 Kerala279561629988 Jammu and Kashmir2239614856417 Punjab1901512491462 Jharkhand140705199129 Chhatisgarh10109761369 Uttarakhand8008484795 Goa7075511460 Tripura5520367528 Puducherry4147253758 Manipur301818147 Himachal Pradesh2879171013 Nagaland24056594 Arunachal Pradesh179011053 Chandigarh120671520 Meghalaya9173305 Sikkim7832971 Mizoram5022820
Sports Football 11 Jun 2019 Neymar's absence cou ...

Neymar's absence could be blessing in disguise for Copa hosts Brazil

REUTERS
Published Jun 11, 2019, 2:32 pm IST
Updated Jun 11, 2019, 2:32 pm IST
With the Paris St-Germain forward gone, there will be less of a circus atmosphere around the squad and focus will be firmly on the pitch.
Brazil have included only 14 of the squad that went to the World Cup in Russia a year ago. (Photo: AP)
 Brazil have included only 14 of the squad that went to the World Cup in Russia a year ago. (Photo: AP)

Sao Paulo: Brazil expect to win every tournament they play, especially at home, but they go into next week’s Copa America without their talisman Neymar and lacking some of the sparkle that has long been their stock in trade.

They have not lost since Belgium dumped them out of the 2018 World Cup in the quarter-finals but their 10-game unbeaten run – with the exception of last week’s 7-0 drubbing of 10-man Honduras - has come largely without the usual flair.

 

Brazil’s preparations for the Copa have been overshadowed by Neymar — firstly the rape allegations against the striker, which he has denied, and then the ankle injury that ruled him out the tournament last week.

Tite’s squad is as good as any in the tournament but the coach is trying to manage a generational change and said that choosing his squad of 23 players was the “most difficult” task he had faced since taking over three years ago.

Brazil have included only 14 of the squad that went to the World Cup in Russia a year ago, with Everton’s Richarlison, David Neres of Ajax Amsterdam and midfielders Artur of Barcelona and Luca Paqueta of AC Milan among the young recruits.

 

Apart from home advantage, they are fortunate to be in one of the easier groups with Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela.

The big question will be how they cope without Neymar but his absence could be a blessing in disguise. With the Paris St-Germain forward gone, there will be less of a circus atmosphere around the squad and the focus will be firmly on the pitch.

His teammates will want to show they can do it without their undisputed leader and they may also take the opportunity to show their solidarity and try to win the trophy for Neymar.

The win over Honduras in their last warm-up game, with Philippe Coutinho resurgent and six different players getting their names on the scoresheet, was an encouraging sign.

 

Brazil have won the Copa America eight times but not since 2007 and that trophy drought – compounded by a failure to win the World Cup since 2002 - is a long one by Brazilian standards.

Fans expect a home triumph and, even though the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation last week said Tite’s job was safe no matter what happens, fans will not spare him unless Brazil win, or lose playing beautiful football.

But the coach was his usual inscrutable self when asked what he hoped to achieve over the next three weeks.

“We are playing in our own country, and expectations are high that we win,” he said. “But the expectation corresponds to how we perform. Are we going to win? I don’t know. But I want us to do the best we can.”

 

...




ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT