World Cup qualifiers: Brazil, Argentina grapple with injuries to stars Neymar, Messi

Updated: 12 November, 2020 09:12 IST | AFP |

Neymar, 28, bagged a hat-trick in a 4-2 win in Lima last time out to surpass Ronaldo as Brazil's second leading scorer in history

Lionel Messi and Neymar
Lionel Messi and Neymar

Brazil must confront a growing injury list that includes star forward Neymar as they resume World Cup qualifying this week, while Argentina are out to extend their perfect start at home to neighbours Paraguay. Copa America champions Brazil host Venezuela in Sao Paulo on Friday chasing a third win in as many matches after launching their Qatar 2022 campaign with victories over Bolivia and Peru.

Tite handicapped

However, Brazil coach Tite will be without Neymar after the world's most expensive player injured his thigh while on Champions League duty with PSG in Turkey last month. Neymar, 28, bagged a hat-trick in a 4-2 win in Lima last time out to surpass Ronaldo as Brazil's second leading scorer in history. His tally of 64 goals leaves him 13 shy of Pele's record. Despite his latest setback Neymar will still travel with the squad amid hopes that he may recover in time for the trip to Uruguay on November 17. However, national team coordinator Juninho Paulista said Tite told PSG that he would never risk a player's health.

Defender Thiago Silva has tightened up the Chelsea defence since his arrival in England, but he has warned the crowded fixture list is taking its toll on players. "You have to keep endlessly reinventing yourself. We're losing players infected by COVID-19, or others who get hurt because we're playing too many matches. We're not machines," he said.

Narrow wins

Meanwhile, Argentina, who began qualifying with narrow wins over Ecuador and Bolivia, are hoping Lionel Messi will be fit for both their games against Paraguay and Peru. The Barcelona forward is said to be nursing a sore ankle, leaving Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni considering his options if his captain is unavailable.

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First Published: 12 November, 2020 08:54 IST

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