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Brazil boss Tite criticises opposing players for persistent fouls on Neymar

Brazil boss Tite criticises opposing players for persistent fouls on Neymar

Brazil head coach Tite believes the persistent fouls on Neymar ‘must be stopped’ after the star attacker sustained ankle ligament damage in Thursday’s 2-0 win over Serbia.

The 30-year-old was fouled nine times against Serbia at Lusail Stadium, four more than any other player during the first round of fixtures at this year’s tournament in Qatar.

Neymar was on the receiving end of a strong tackle from Nikola Milenkovic midway through the second half, and he continued for 11 minutes before limping off in the 80th minute.

The Paris Saint-Germain star was seen with significant swelling round his right ankle and he appeared to be in tears as he was consoled by his teammates on the bench.

Right-back Danilo also sustained an ankle injury in the closing stages of the match, and both players have now been ruled out of Monday’s clash against Switzerland.

Brazil head coach Tite pictured on November 24, 2022© Reuters

Neymar has suffered lateral ligament damage to his right ankle as well as a small bone edema, while Danilo has a medial ligament issue in his left ankle.

Tite has since criticised opposing players for targeting Neymar and has hit out at referees for failing to protect the PSG star, who has been fouled a total 53 times at the World Cup since the beginning of the 2014 tournament, more than any other player.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday ahead of Brazil’s Group G encounter with Switzerland, Tite said: “If you want to celebrate the football, you have to pay attention to the fouls.

“They focus on specific players. This is the effect. This has to be stopped.”

The 61-year-old boss refused to comment on whether both Neymar and Danilo could return in time for Brazil’s final Group G clash against Cameroon on December 2, but he is confident that both players will play again at this year’s tournament.

Brazil's Neymar in action against Serbia on November 24, 2022© Reuters

“I believe Neymar and Danilo will play in the World Cup,” Tite added. “I’m not in a position to speak about [medical information].

“I can say that, not only about Neymar, but also about Danilo, both of their situations have evolved, but we believe both will be available to play at the World Cup.

“Neymar is an extraordinary talent, but we are also relying on our other players as well. There are other players. An assist from Vinicius [Junior], or creativity when finishing a play from Richarlison, a header from Pedro, a chance for Gabriel Jesus, Raphinha… they have this ability.”

It remains to be seen whether Tite will opt to replace Neymar with a fellow attacker – with the likes of Jesus, Rodrygo and Gabriel Martinelli all raring to go if called upon – or to name Fred in his starting lineup, which would see the Manchester United man join Casemiro and Lucas Paqueta in centre-midfield.

Meanwhile, Eder Militao and 39-year-old Dani Alves will both be pushing to start at right-back at the expense of Danilo.

Brazil will be looking to break a World Cup group-stage record when they take on Switzerland, and they will secure their place in the last 16 with a victory at Stadium 974, if Serbia and Cameroon play out a draw in the earlier kickoff.

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