After completing a four-match suspension for his Copa America misconduct, Brazil striker returns for tonight’s World Cup qualifier against arch-rivals
Montevideo: Brazil star Neymar returns from suspension to face Argentina today as South America's qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup resumes with a showdown between the bitter continental rivals.
Brazil's Neymar during a friendly against Honduras in June. Pic/AFP
Neymar was forced to sit out Brazil's opening two qualifiers last month — a 0-2 defeat to Chile followed by a 3-1 win over Venezuela — following his four-match suspension at the Copa America in June. But the talismanic striker is now back and available for Brazil as the five-time world champions head to Buenos Aires to face Argentina, who took only a point from their first two ties.
Argentina suffered a shock 0-2 defeat at home to Ecuador in their opener and then labored to a goalless draw away to Paraguay.
Hosts under pressure
The results have piled the pressure on beleaguered Argentina manager Gerardo 'Tata' Martino, whose preparations for Thursday's showdown at the Estadio Monumental have already been thrown into turmoil by an injury crisis which has deprived him of an array of attacking talent. Captain Lionel Messi is ruled out after suffering a long-term knee injury in September.
Man City striker Sergio Aguero is also unavailable while Carlos Tevez is doubtful after suffering a knee problem. Boca Juniors striker Tevez skipped training on Monday and is struggling to be fit according to the Argentine press. Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Javier Pastore is also a concern after suffering a calf injury.
Brazil veteran Kaka, restored to the squad by coach Dunga earlier this year, said the Brazilians are quietly confident. "We know how difficult it is to go to Argentina and get a result, but we can win."