Brazilians face Swiss without Neymar
DOHA: Brazil will face Switzerland on Monday without their talisman Neymar, ruled out by an ankle injury suffered in their opening 2-0 win against Serbia at the World Cup last Thursday, but with a host of young talent to step in for him.
The five-time world champions will also be without ever-reliable full-back Danilo who also sustained an ankle injury against the Serbians.
Their absences are a blow to Brazil's aspirations of winning a record-extending sixth World Cup, but they will be relying on their outstanding generation of new talent to see them through the match.
Neymar has been crucial for Brazil in the two World Cups he has played in before, in sides that have lacked the star power of generations past.
Yet recently others have begun to shine in European soccer, with the rise of youngsters like Vinicius Jr and Richarlison, arguably the two best players in their impressive win against Serbia.
Coach Tite will have plenty of options available to replace Neymar against Switzerland and thereafter, as the player fights to be fit for the knockout stages after sustaining ligament damage to a right ankle that has troubled him for years.
Real Madrid prodigy Rodrygo would be the first option if Tite decides to use the same system with four men up-front alongside Vinicius, Richarlison and Raphinha.
The versatile 21-year-old forward played in Neymar's position in three Brazil practice games in Turin in the week prior to the World Cup.
Another option would be to pair Fred with his Manchester United teammate Casemiro to strengthen the midfield and advance West Ham player Lucas Paqueta's position as a playmaker.
Rodrygo has hugely impressed Casemiro, who said on Saturday he could replace the injured Neymar as a World Cup starter.
Casemiro said the Selecao have a new talent in Rodrygo, who is ready to sparkle.
"Rodrygo lit up my eyes. He's a star," said Casemiro from Brazil's training base in Doha. "God gave him the gift of playing football. It's beautiful watching him play."
However, the biggest question mark is regarding Danilo's replacement, as 39-year-old veteran Dani Alves is the only right back available.
The former Barcelona man played his last game for Mexican side UNAM Pumas in September and sustained a knee injury that has been troubling him since.
Tite tested out Real Madrid centre back Eder Militao as a full-back in their friendly match against Ghana, which could be another option.
Brazil are top of Group G on three points, level with the Swiss, who won their debut against Cameroon 1-0.