Neymar is available for Brazil’s World Cup last-16 match against South Korea on Monday, coach Tite has confirmed.
The forward, 30, missed Brazil’s last two group games after sustaining ligament damage in his right ankle in the opening match against Serbia.
Brazil, one of the pre-tournament favourites, qualified for the knockout stage with a game to spare and topped Group G despite defeat by Cameroon.
Asked on Sunday whether Neymar would be fit to return, Tite replied “yes”.
He added: “Neymar will train today in the afternoon and if he trains well he will play.”
The Paris St-Germain star was replaced in 80th minute of his nation’s 2-0 win over Serbia after a heavy tackle by Nikola Milenkovic and later described the injury as “one of the hardest moments of my career”.
Neymar wrote on Instagram: “Nothing in my life came easy and I’ve always had to work for my dreams and goals. I have never wished anyone anything bad and always helped who needed.
“I’m injured, yes it’s not nice, it will hurt but I’m sure I will have the chance to come back because I’ll do everything possible to help my country, my team-mates and myself.”
Neymar has suffered a number of injury problems with his right foot over the past few years, missing the 2019 Copa America after suffering torn ligaments in his ankle and then spending several weeks recovering from a similar injury in 2021.
Defender Danilo is also fit to return for Brazil, but Alex Telles and forward Gabriel Jesus have been ruled out for the rest of the tournament.
CHRIS SUTTON’S PREDICTION
South Korea left it very late to get here, but the dramatic way they qualified from Group H means their World Cup has been memorable no matter what happens next.
They will give this a good go, and they showed against Portugal how well organised they are at the back, but I don’t think they have got enough at the other end to bother Brazil.
How close this is might depend on how Neymar returns from injury, but I still think Brazil will win even if they have to do it without him.
Sutton’s prediction: 2-0
- This will be the eighth meeting between Brazil and South Korea but the first ever competitive meeting between the two sides. Brazil have won six of the previous seven matches (L1), most recently a 5-1 victory in June.
- Brazil have lost four of their last 10 matches at the World Cup. Their previous four defeats in the competition were spread across 36 matches.
- This will be South Korea’s first World Cup knockout match since 2010, when they were beaten by Uruguay in the last 16.
- Brazil have progressed from each of their last seven second-round matches at the World Cup. They were last eliminated at this stage in 1990 against Argentina.
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