Neymar’s absence for Brazil does not render the South American powerhouse rudderless, according to Paraguay centre-back Paulo da Silva.
The Paraguayans will go up against Neymar-less Brazil in Concepcion on Saturday, with Dunga losing his captain to a four-game suspension when a post-match stoush following their loss to Colombia saw the Barcelona star lose his cool.
But Da Silva, 35, said Brazil – who have since beaten Venezuela 2-1 – remain a dangerous outfit regardless.
“Neymar is a hugely important player for Brazil,” Da Silva told a news conference in La Serena on Monday.
“He showed at Barcelona last season what a great player he is, winning the treble.
“But Brazil remain extremely dangerous even without Neymar. They have had phases where they haven’t played so well, but in short tournaments it’s results that count. They are very good at dead balls and very dangerous.
“They are here on merit and they will punish any mistakes.
“We will try to advance to a semi-final, which would be a dream for us and something very special.
“But we will need to play an almost perfect game to get to the last four.”
Paraguay full-back Ivan Piris said Neymar deserved to be punished, and felt it would be a severe blow to Brazil’s title chances.
“Neymar is a great player and being without him is pretty damaging to Brazil,” the Udinese man said.
And asked about the forward’s four-match ban, he added: “I don’t want to talk too much about that because the problem belongs to them. But I think it’s fair.”
Da Silva, who plies his club trade with Toluca FC in Mexico, said their 2015 outfit was better than the side that reached the 2011 Copa final.
“I think we are a better team now than we were then,” the centre-back added.
“We came from 2-0 down against Argentina and we played well in phases against Jamaica and Uruguay. We have had more possession as well in recent games. I think we have evolved since 2011.
“It will be an even game and we want to give some joy to our people. It’s do or die against Brazil.”
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