Neymar set for World Cup showdown with Messi

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Paris

Neymar will face his new clubmate Lionel Messi in a South American grudge match after being named to the Brazil team on Saturday for three World Cup qualifiers.

Coach Tite also called up six members of the squad that retained the Olympic title by beating Spain in extra-time on August 7.

Dani Alves, who captained the Olympic squad, is joined by fellow gold medallists Matheus Cunha, who scored in the final, Richarlison, the tournament top scorer in Japan, Bruno Guimaraes, Guilherme Arana and Claudinho.

Brazil lead the 10-team South American World Cup qualifying group after six matches and face a busy week as the tournament tries to catch up after two rounds were postponed in March in the face of a coronavirus spike and international quarantine rules.

Brazil start with a trip to Santiago to play Chile on September 2, then take on Argentina in a re-arranged match in Sao Paulo three days later before travelling more than 2,200 kilometres north to Pernambuco to entertain Peru on September 9.

Since March, Argentina have beaten Brazil in the final of the Copa America in July at the Maracana and Argentine captain Messi has left Barcelona and joined Neymar at Paris Saint-Germain.

Tite’s team have won all six of their matches so far, conceding just two goals, but despite scoring 16 goals have rarely been exciting. They also looked lacklustre as they struggled to score in the knock-out stages of the Copa.

Tite told a virtual press conference that while he was disappointed with the final outcome, he was happy at the way the squad had developed in the Copa.—AP

 

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