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Neymar to travel for World Cup qualifying despite injury

Neymar to travel for World Cup qualifying despite injury

Neymar will come to South America for World Cup qualifying matches despite a groin injury he picked up in a Champions League match for Paris Saint-GermainBy MAURICIO SAVARESE AP Sports WriterJuly 15, 2021, 2:08 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleSAO PAULO — Neymar will come to South America for World Cup qualifying matches despite a groin injury he picked up in a Champions League match for Paris Saint-Germain.Brazil coach Tite called Flamengo striker Pedro for the matches against Venezuela and Uruguay on Nov. 13 and 17, without removing Neymar from the squad.Dr. Rodrigo Lasmar said he expects Neymar to be available for the clash at Uruguay “after an intensive week of training” with Brazil in Teresopolis, outside Rio de Janeiro.“We have the chance of recovery for the second match,” Lasmar told Brazil’s soccer confederation website. “We will follow his development closely.”PSG coach Thomas Tuchel said last week it would be “impossible” for Neymar to play for Brazil as he recovered from the injury.Brazil has already lost four players for the two clashes, including three due to injury — midfielders Philippe Coutinho and Fabinho, and defender Rodrigo Caio.Defender Eder Militão is out after contracting COVID-19.Pedro, 23, was called for Brazil once in September 2018, but suffered a serious knee injury that stopped his debut and kept him out of action for months.After a disappointingly short spell at Fiorentina, he came back to Brazil in the beginning of the year on loan and is now one of the top goal scorers for Flamengo, with eight goals in 13 matches.Brazil and Argentina lead the South American qualifying group with two wins from two matches.———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Messi's Argentina beats Brazil 1-0, wins Copa America title

Messi's Argentina beats Brazil 1-0, wins Copa America title

RIO DE JANEIRO — Two long droughts ended on Saturday at the Copa America final: Argentina won its first major title since 1993 after a 1-0 win against Brazil. And Lionel Messi finally lifted his first major trophy for the national team, filling in one of the biggest gaps in his decorated career.Argentina’s winning goal at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro came in the 22nd minute after Rodrigo de Paul made a long pass to Ángel di Maria. The 33-year-old veteran striker counted on some sloppy defending from left-back Renan Lodi to take control and lob it past goalkeeper Ederson.When the match ended, a tearful Mess i knelt down and put his hands on his face. Then most of his teammates ran in his direction to celebrate and threw him into the air. Once criticized by Argentina fans for his quietness, he went to the few hundred guests chanting his name at the Maracana and chanted with them. Messi kissed the trophy before lifting it into the air during the presentations.The match at the Maracana started with some surprises. Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni made five changes from the starting lineup that beat Colombia on penalties in the semifinal.Gonzalo Montiel, Cristian Romero, Marcos Acuña, Leandro Paredes and Di María took the places of Nahuel Molina, Nicolás Tagliafico, Guido Rodríguez and Nicolás González.Brazil, a team recognized for its steadiness, did not make any changes from the team that advanced to the final.The teams were cautious early in the match, barely offering chances. When Argentina opened the scoring in a rare Brazil defensive mistake and Di Maria’s classy finish, the match became more physical and Argentina successfully stopped the ball from getting to Neymar.Neymar tried hard with dribbles and passes, but the Selecao barely threatened Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez in the first half. Argentina sat in the back, hoping for counter-attacks.Brazil coach Tite tried to change the dynamic of the match by replacing defensive midfielder Fred for Roberto Firmino, and managed to do so for much of the second half. But though the Selecao had more ball posession there were few real opportunities.Messi’s performance in the final was not as impressive as in previous matches of the tournament, during which he scored four goals and had five assists. He had a clear opportunity in the 88th minute, tried to dribble Ederson, but the Brazilian goalkeeper stopped him.“I can’t cry yet,” Di Maria said after the match. “We dreamed of getting this, and we fought. Many people criticized us and asked us not to come back (to the national team).”The title, however, provides Messi some relief after all the questions throughout his career on his effectiveness playing for the national team.The South American trophy is a relief for Argentina, which won its last major title when Messi was only 6 years old. Saturday’s victory in Rio gave the team its 15th Copa America title, this time unbeaten, equaling Uruguay’s total. Brazil has won the South American title nine times.“If we achieved something, it was by making things natural. It is above all about transparency, one enters the other leaves. No one has a safe place,” said Argentina coach Scaloni. :”I hope fans enjoy this. They wanted to win it as much as us, they felt identification with this team, which may play well or badly, but never gives up.”Messi, who has several titles with Barcelona, had reached the final of Copa America three times and lost all of them in 2007, 2015 and 2016. Now, he will have good memories at the Maracana, where Argentina lost the 2014 World Cup final to Germany.In its path to the title, Argentina won four out of five matches in group stage, including a hard-fought 1-0 encounter with Uruguay. It beat Ecuador 3-0 in the quarterfinals and topped Colombia on penalties after a 1-1 draw in regular time.Brazil became last-minute hosts of Copa America two weeks before kick off after original organizers Colombia and Argentina withdrew. Many players protested against the tournament taking place as the COVID-19 pandemic causes thousands of deaths a day in South America, even more so in Brazil where 532,000 have died.Officials allowed a few thousand fans into the Maracana for the decider, the only match in the tournament to have spectators. There was very little social distancing in celebrations, and some fans removed their masks.———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Brazil calls striker Richarlison into Olympic soccer team

Brazil calls striker Richarlison into Olympic soccer team

Brazil has named striker Richarlison in its Olympic soccer teamBy MAURICIO SAVARESE AP Sports WriterJuly 3, 2021, 4:25 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleRIO DE JANEIRO — Defending champion Brazil named striker Richarlison to its Olympic soccer team on Friday. The 24-year-old is currently playing at Copa America with the senior team.Richarlison said after Brazil’s 1-0 win against Chile in the Copa America quarterfinals that his club Everton had allowed him to play in Japan.“I picked up a fight there, I spent all day arguing with executives, I called the coach,” Richarlison jokingly said. “It is very important for me to get this experience as the World Cup gets closer, I want to get more mature. When I heard Everton allowed me to go it was a great joy.”Brazil’s soccer confederation said Friday it had made three changes in the original squad announced June 17 by coach André Jardine.Olympique Marseille midfielder Gerson, Zenit winger Malcom and Flamengo striker Pedro were replaced by PAOK’s Douglas Augusto, Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli and Richarlison.The clubs where Gerson, Malcom and Pedro play did not accept releasing them for the Olympics because the tournament is not listed on FIFA’s international match calendar. That was also the case of Paris Saint-Germain with superstar Neymar, who also wanted to play in Japan.Neymar led Brazil to Olympic gold at the Maracana Stadium in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.Brazil also added another four players after FIFA authorized the move to Olympic teams; goalkeeper Lucão (Vasco da Gama), defender Bruno Fuchs (CSKA Moscow), Abner (Athletico Paranaense) and striker Reinier (Borussia Dortmund).Men’s soccer kicks off ahead of the July 23 opening ceremony in Tokyo. Brazil’s first game in the Olympics is on July 22 against Germany in Yokohama.———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports