Quality Uruguay will be tough rivals: Neymar

MONTEVIDEO • Brazil are on the verge of qualifying for next year's World Cup Finals in Russia but forward Neymar is not expecting an easy walk in the park when they face Uruguay in a qualifier today.

"It's going to be a difficult game. Uruguay have a lot of quality, but we are going to prepare ourselves as best we can," the 25-year-old told reporters after his long-haul flight from Barcelona to Montevideo.

"But the chance to wear the Brazil shirt is always a privilege, an honour."

Brazil have transformed their qualifying campaign with six straight victories since new coach Tite took over last year, following the Copa America Centenario debacle, where the five-time World Cup winners were eliminated in the group stage.

The Brazilians are now motoring towards qualification for Russia, four points clear at the top of the standings from second-placed Uruguay (23).

A seventh straight victory today will all but guarantee Brazil's place at the Finals in Russia.

Tite's biggest headache will be attempting to find an adequate back-up to Manchester City starlet Gabriel Jesus, who is injured.

The 19-year-old proved to be the catalyst for Brazil's resurgence last year, scoring five goals in six games.

Though there is no obvious like-for-like replacement, Tite still has plenty of attacking options with a strike force led by Neymar.

Liverpool duo Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho could also provide attacking thrust.

Uruguay also have a problem in attack, with Barcelona star Luis Suarez suspended. That is likely to mean that Edinson Cavani will shoulder the scoring threat for Uruguay, with support from Diego Rolan.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2017, with the headline 'Quality Uruguay will be tough rivals: Neymar'. Print Edition | Subscribe