Brazil are getting back to their best at the Copa America despite the loss of captain Neymar to a tournament-ending ban, according to forward Roberto Firmino.
Neymar was handed a four-match suspension following his sending-off for a post-match scuffle in the Group C loss to Colombia last week.
But as Brazil prepare to face Paraguay in the quarter-finals on Saturday, Firmino believes they are improving in their skipper’s absence.
“Of course we are sad because of his suspension and his exit, but the Selecao are looking better and better and we can achieve victories in the Copa America,” Firmino told reporters.
“The knockout fixtures will be the key ones. It will not be easy. All the South Americans are working hard, but our squad is getting stronger and stronger.”
Brazil booked their place in the last eight by beating Venezuela 2-1 in their final group fixture, with Robinho deputising for Neymar, and Firmino said the presence of the 31-year-old was a huge boost.
“Robinho is an example to us all, and he helped us a lot,” added Firmino.
“He had a great game and against Paraguay it will be no different. But we know it is a knockout game and we have to win.”