• News

Casemiro: “Neymar is Brazil’s best player”

Getty Images

Casemiro hailed Neymar’s undisputed quality as player, but insists Brazil have enough talent at their disposal to win Sunday’s Copa America final.

Brazil have been made to do without star forward Neymar for this summer’s tournament following his untimely ankle injury, which was sustained in a pre-tournament friendly against Qatar last month.

Despite a few bumps in the road, though, the Selecao have progressed to the Copa America final in front of their home supporters.

Awaiting them at the Maracana on Sunday will be Peru, who will be feeling bullish over their prospects given their shock 3-0 semi-final win over outgoing champions Chile.

But Casemiro is confident Brazil have the required strength to take on Peru even without Neymar leading the charge.

“The quality of Neymar, indisputably we have to say he is the best Brazilian player,” said Casemiro, according to Fox Sports.

“If the kid is OK, I’ll tell you, it’s almost impossible to stop him. He is a player of extreme quality, already demonstrated for all, already demonstrated in the Brazilian squad.

“But, of course, we have other great players. We have great players.

“If Neymar were here, it would be better for us and it would help a lot more, but he isn’t and we have to overcome his absence, overcome this difficulty.

“We have created a game identity, but if he were here it would be much better.”

Neymar is third on Brazil’s all-time top scorers list with 60 goals in 97 appearances at international level. Ahead of him are Ronaldo Nazario (62 goals) and Pele (77).

However, Tite’s side do have every reason to be confident on their chances of claiming a ninth Copa America title this weekend given their 5-0 demolition on Peru in the group stages just a fortnight ago.

Victory would mark a welcome turnaround for Brazil given their recent setbacks, which saw them suffer a quarter-final exit at the World Cup last summer and being knocked out of the group stages in the 2016 Copa America.

Nonetheless, Casemiro wants the team to not take Peru lightly as they chase a first title since 2007.

“You have to know the time to suffer, you have to know the time to attack, you have to know the time to defend,” said the Real Madrid midfielder.

“Above all, we are creating a very solid team at the back. When I say solid back, it’s not just the defenders, everyone is committed. That’s it, don’t lose our characteristics.

“We don’t have to do anything different from what we’re doing, not only in relation to the last matches, but for the last two, three years.

“We built a good average of wins, few losses. We don’t have to do anything different. We have to play our football. We know there is a great team as an opponent, but it is our football.”

The Copa America final between Brazil and Peru will begin at 22:00 (CET).

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – JUNE 22: Casemiro of Brazil celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Copa America Brazil 2019 group A match between Peru and Brazil at Arena Corinthians on June 22, 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)