Michael Place ROSTOV-ON-DON Russia (Xinhua) --
Neymar will not be fully fit for Brazil’s opening
World Cup match against Switzerland here on Sunday,
according to Selecao coach Tite.
Saint-Germain forward has made just two appearances
since recovering from a fractured fifth metatarsal
in his right foot, which kept him out for more than
He made a scoring return as a substitute in
Brazil’s 2-0 friendly victory over Croatia on June 3
and also netted as a starter in a 3-0 defeat of
Austria last Sunday.
"Neymar is not yet 100%," Tite told a news
conference on Saturday.
"But he is physically very gifted. His sprints,
his speed are very impressive. He’s not 100% yet but
he’s good enough to play well."
Despite the long injury layoff, Neymar scored 28
goals and provided 16 assists across all
competitions for Paris Saint-Germain last season
following his record 222 million-euro transfer from
Barcelona in August.
Neymar’s gradual return to fitness will be
ominous news for Brazil’s rivals, even if the
current Selecao side is not as Neymar-dependent as
the 2014 version.
The hosts’ attacking options during the last
World Cup in Brazil - apart from Neymar - stopped at
lumbering strikers Fred and Jo.
The squad now has an embarrassment of riches,
including central strikers Gabriel Jesus and Roberto
Firmino as well as the versatile Philippe Coutinho.
It is a luxury that has helped underpin Brazil’s
The five-time world champions have lost just once
in 21 games since Tite replaced Dunga after the
team’s group-stage elimination from the Copa America
two years ago.
"I’m happy with the way we’ve played but we have
to replicate it at the World Cup," a taciturn Tite
Despite acknowledging his team’s ability to break
down opposition defences, the former Corinthians
boss is expecting few scoring chances against the
"Out of all the teams we are facing, they are the
strongest in depth," Tite said.
"We know they’ll give us some difficult moments,
games at the highest level demand so much of you and
force you to raise your performance."