Danilo aims to make mark as Brazil right-back

Danilo at a press conference in Teresopolis, the Selecao's training base, on Wednesday.
Danilo at a press conference in Teresopolis, the Selecao's training base, on Wednesday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

RIO DE JANEIRO • Juventus defender Danilo said on Wednesday he feels ready to finally assume the role of Brazil's first-choice right-back, more than nine years after making his international debut.

The 29-year-old is expected to start for the five-time world champions when they meet Bolivia in Sao Paulo today and Peru in Lima on Tuesday in the opening two rounds of South America's 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

"Without doubt it's an important time in my career," Danilo, who has been capped 25 times, told a virtual news conference.

He said he did not feel daunted by Brazil's rich history of right-sided defenders such as Carlos Alberto, Cafu and Dani Alves.

"I've reached a level of maturity that has allowed me to be a part of the national team," he said.

"It's a position in which we've always had players with a lot of quality that have created history.

"Now is an opportune time... to cement my place. I always say that it's important to feel the responsibility of playing for the national team.

"I've battled with Dani (Alves) for a place in the team and that has made me a better player. I'm playing well for my club, I'm happy, and I think that everything that I've experienced in football until now has given me what I need to be able to play for Brazil's national team."

Danilo described himself as fortunate for having worked under managers such as Zinedine Zidane, Pep Guardiola and Andrea Pirlo. And he described himself as a more complete player now than the one who left Santos to join Porto in 2012.

"I play differently now, with a stronger focus on passing the ball and helping to construct the play," he said.

Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar is a doubt for the match against Bolivia because of a back problem, Brazil's team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said.

The 28-year-old was forced to leave a training session at Brazil's Granja Comary base in Teresopolis, near Rio de Janeiro, to undergo physiotherapy.

"He has started treatment. We'll evaluate him again before training (on Thursday) and we'll have a better idea then," Dr Lasmar said.

There was better news involving forward Richarlison, who trained freely after injuring his left ankle while playing for Everton in their 4-2 Premier League win over Brighton last Saturday.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2020, with the headline 'Danilo aims to make mark as Brazil right-back'. Print Edition | Subscribe