Terespolis (Brazil): Neymar is making good progress in his recovery from thigh and knee knocks ahead of Friday’s World Cup quarter-final against Colombia, Brazil’s team doctor said.
The Barcelona forward came out of last Saturday’s last-16 win against Chile battered and bruised but has undergone treatment at Brazil’s Teresopolis training base and will train normally on Wednesday.
“He took a blow to the left thigh and the right knee, but he has worked alongside the rest of the squad. He is recovering very well,” doctor Jose Luiz Runco told journalists.
For the second day running, those players who started the epic clash against Chile were restricted to indoor work, and Runco hit back at suggestions in the Brazilian media that the team are not training hard enough, with the match against Colombia only three days away.
“I need my team to play, not to train,” he said. “They need to rest. They played 120 minutes at one in the afternoon and it was a game that used up a huge amount of strength physically and emotionally.”
Neymar was one of those who watched on as a team of Brazilian reserves won 2-0 in a practice match against a youth side from Rio de Janeiro club Fluminense on Tuesday, with Paulinho scoring both goals.
The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder was dropped from the side against Chile after disappointing during the group stage, but is the leading contender to come back into the team against Colombia in the absence of Luiz Gustavo due to suspension.
The other options for coach Luiz Felipe Scolari are to introduce Hernanes for the first time in this World Cup, or even push David Luiz forward into a holding midfield role with Dante coming into central defence.
Meanwhile, Chelsea midfielder Ramires, another player on the fringes of the starting line-up, insisted that Brazil are better prepared to handle stress after the dramatic win over Chile.
“If we have to go through the same thing again, we will be much better prepared,” he said at a press conference, recalling the penalty shoot-out success against the Chileans.
Several Brazil players broke down in tears after, and even before the shoot-out, including captain Thiago Silva.
Ramires added: “It was the emotion of the occasion, playing for 90 minutes plus extra time and penalties in the heat and with 200 million people urging you to win.
“The team is prepared to deal with the emotional side of things both on and off the field.”