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Brazil captain Thiago Silva says we will see a “better Neymar” at this World Cup after injury hampered his last two tournaments.
Neymar missed the 2014 semi-final with a back injury, and after undergoing foot surgery during the 2018 tournament, struggled to reach full fitness.
However, he arrives in Qatar in full form and has scored 15 goals in 20 games for Paris St-Germain this season.
“I think Neymar is coming into this competition in great shape,” Silva said.
“His preparation this time has been different. He was injured in 2014 when he was playing very well, and in 2018 he came into the tournament in a different way because he had a serious injury, he didn’t play much.
“Now with another preparation, without any injuries or worries, we see a better Neymar.”
Brazil coach Tite has refused to say whether Lucas Paqueta will replace defensive midfielder Fred.
Brazilian media have speculated that the Selecao will play a very attacking 4-1-4-1.
Serbia is optimistic striker Aleksandar Mitrovic will be ready to return after a foot injury.
Striker Dusan Vlahovic returned from trouble in the friendly against Bahrain and Luka Jovic could help in attack.
Serbia don’t have that much strength in depth in their squad, but they have a lot of talented players in their strongest XI, and they will be a big threat in the gaps.
They might give Brazil a scare or two here, although I don’t expect any surprises with the final result.
Brazil are in excellent form, losing just one of their last 29 matches – the 2021 Copa America final against Argentina.
Neymar is the best diver at this World Cup, but he’s scoring a lot of goals, and we’ll likely see him do both in the coming weeks.
Chris Sutton’s predictions for the opening stages of the World Cup matches
DATA OF THE MATCH
- Brazil are unbeaten in 17 games against Serbia (including Yugoslavia) since an 8-4 defeat in Belgrade on June 3, 1934. The Selecao are unbeaten against Ecuador (20 matches between 1942-2000) and Paraguay (18 matches since 1954). -1963).
- They are unbeaten in their last 15 World Cup group matches, winning 12, with their last group stage loss coming against Norway in 1998.
- Neymar has been directly involved in 42% of Brazil’s last 19 goals, scoring six and assisting two.
- Serbia (including Serbia and Montenegro) have qualified for four of the last five World Cups, but have lost seven of nine matches in the finals, the most defeats of any European nation in that period.
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