Brazil without Neymar in friendlies ahead of 2018 FIFA World Cup

By @saihoops on
Neymar, 2018 FIFA World Cup
Soccer Football - International Friendly - England vs Brazil - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - November 14, 2017 Brazil’s Neymar Reuters/John Sibley

Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho believes Brazil will miss the services of Neymar during the forthcoming friendlies against Russia and Germany. Though Neymar is expected back for the 2018 FIFA World Cup (June 14 - July 15) in Russia, Brazil will play a lot of games in the lead-up to soccer's showpiece event without their star forward.

Neymar suffered a horrific foot injury during Paris Saint-Germain's 3-0 home victory over rivals Olympique de Marseille on Feb. 25 in the French Ligue 1 championship. After being stretchered off the Parc des Princes, PSG star Neymar underwent surgery on a broken bone in his right foot. According to several Brazilian media outlets, Neymar could be cleared for competitive soccer in approximately six weeks.

"Neymar is a great player, very important for our national team. We feel his absence, but we have to overcome in some form. The national team has grown a lot collectively, that's the main thing, and we have to continue in this manner. Tactically, I think it will be clear, someone will have to occupy his position, and who comes in will have all the qualities to respond at a high level," Coutinho told reporters at the Luzhniki Stadium ahead of the Brazil vs Russia friendly match on Friday (Saturday AEDT).

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The likes of Coutinho, Willian and Douglas Costa will be burdened with more responsibility in Neymar's absence. Coutinho, who played out wide for Liverpool, doesn't have a preference where he plays.

"In my head it's indifferent. I have to always be prepared. This is what I picture in my mind when I have the opportunity to respond to a challenge, on a big stage. Always respecting the position, what a player should do in each position, and in relation to this (where I play) I leave it to the manager, where he prefers and needs," the Barcelona midfielder added.

Brazil will square off against Russia and Germany in friendly ties, on March 23 and March 27, respectively. The Selecaos, playing in their own backyard, suffered a horrific 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Germany during the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final. Reputed soccer analysts believe Neymar holds the keys to Brazil's hopes at the 2018 FIFA World Cup which gets underway in Russia on June 14.