Brazil coach Tite has recalled Douglas Costa, Marcelo and Casemiro to his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Argentina and Peru.
Costa missed both of the last two international periods due to injury, meaning the Bayern Munich star is in line for his first appearances under Tite, who was appointed Brazil coach in June.
Real Madrid pair Marcelo and Casemiro have enjoyed strong starts to the domestic season in Spain and return after missing Brazil’s last two matches with respective calf and fibula problems.
Chelsea midfielder Oscar is the only major casualty, as he is dropped and replaced by Sao Paulo centre-back Rodrigo Caio.
Gabriel Jesus and Neymar will again shoulder much of the burden in attack and Tite has told the Barcelona star to rise above rough treatment from defenders after an elbow from Bolivia’s Yasmani Duk left him with a bloodied face earlier this month.
“You know how many times I thought about replacing Neymar in that second half? About ten times,” Tite told reporters. “But this is a process of maturity that he needs to feel in the skin.
“I said to him: ‘Hey, Neymar, forget the card. Leave this with me. Go play, shoot and dribble. In the first third of the field, you are not safe either, play and pass faster, but in attack you can play in the way you want’.
“It is a maturity process. Firstly, I’m sure Neymar went to the right club. He’s in a very good situation and I’m sure he will improve. He has to absorb it [rough treatment] because he has a unique talent. He has to ignore it.”
Brazil will be favourites when they host bitter rivals Argentina in Belo Horizonte on November 11, with Edgardo Bauza’s men fifth and five points behind the pacesetters, but Tite is wary of one man in particular.
“Messi and Neymar are in the top three [players in the world], you know,” he added. “Messi and Cristiano [Ronaldo] are more similar, of the same generation – they have similar ages.
“Neymar is younger, is maturing and growing, evolving. Today, for me, Messi is the best player in the world.”
Brazil head to Peru five days later for what will be their last qualifier until March.
Brazil squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Alisson (Roma), Alex Muralha (Flamengo), Weverton (Atletico Paranaense).
Defenders: Gil (Shandong Luneng), Marquinhos (PSG), Miranda (Inter Milan), Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo), Thiago Silva (PSG), Daniel Alves (Juventus), Fagner (Corinthians), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid).
Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Giuliano (Zenit), Lucas Lima (Santos), Paulinho (Guanghzou Evergrande), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Willian (Chelsea).
Forwards: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich), Gabriel Jesus (Palmeiras), Neymar (Barcelona).
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