Neymar, Danilo replacements: What are the options available for Tite ahead of Brazil vs Switzerland?

Tite, despite the vast attacking resources in stock, will be pondering Neymar’s and Danilo’s replacements going into the Swiss game.

Brazil’s Neymar grabs his ankle after an injury during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Serbia, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail.

Brazil’s Neymar grabs his ankle after an injury during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Serbia, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail. | Photo Credit: AP

Tite, despite the vast attacking resources in stock, will be pondering Neymar’s and Danilo’s replacements going into the Swiss game.

Brazil is set to miss its talismanic captain Neymar and right back Danilo for its Group G clash against Switzerland after the duo sustained ankle injuries during its opener against Serbia on November 24.

“Neymar and Danilo went through a MRI on Friday afternoon and we found ligament damage in the ankle of both of them,” the team doctor told reporters after the Serbia game. “They will miss the next game for sure and we will be cautious as they will undergo treatment in order to try to get them in shape so they can play again in the World Cup.”

Tite, despite the vast attacking resources in stock, will be pondering Neymar’s replacement going into the Swiss game.

Here are some of the potential replacements for Neymar and Danilo:

Militao vs Dani Alves

Tite has deployed his wing-backs in a tempered manner in the Serbia game, with both Danilo and Alex Sandro rarely overlapping. This could open the door for a more defensive-minded Eder Militao to take Danilo’s spot. The Real Madrid star has often filled in at right-back for his club and can provide defensive stability.

A more aggressive choice would be the 39-year-old Dani Alves, who despite his age, could provide a better attacking outlet down the right. But this is an unlikely choice as Brazil, in the form of Thiago Silva, already has ageing defender, who could be potentially targeted with pace.

The Neymar Gap

Neymar is one of the best in the business when it comes to ball progression and chances created, making a potential replacement for him close to impossible.

Rodrygo is a leading contender for his senior colleague’s spot in the lineup and has shown his credentials as an attacker with some defining goals already in his young Real Madrid career. His linkup with club teammate Vinicius Jr. aids his argument.

“Rodrygo lit up my eyes. He’s a star. God gave him the gift of playing football. It’s beautiful watching him play,” said Casemiro from Brazil’s training base in Doha, before the game.

Gabriel Jesus is another forward who has the potential to step up to the challenge. Ever since shifting to Arsenal from Manchester City, Jesus has grown into the role as a central striker and has helped the North London side to the top of the table in Premier League.

The 25-year-old striker was the central striker for Brazil in the 2018 World Cup but was upstaged by Richarlison, who starred with a brace against Serbia, coming into the Qatar World Cup.

Another contender for Neymar’s spot could arise from Arsenal itself, in the form of Gabriel Martinelli. The 21-year-old attacker has been a regular presence for Mikel Arteta’s side, but is more of an outside choice, behind Jesus and Rodrygo.

Tweak in Strategy

Neymar’s absence could also force Tite into a change in formation and structure, which could change the way Brazil approach the game.

Against Serbia, Brazil began with a midfield two -- Casemiro and Lucas Paqueta -- which provided Neymar with the base to manipulate the game from the midfield.

This could change into a midfield three, with Casemiro’s Manchester United teammate, Fred stepping in alongside the two.

Fred and Casemiro were Tite’s preferred midfield duo for the most part of Brazil’s pre-World Cup games. With Neymar missing out, this would be an opportunity to bring back the duo and push Paqueta into an aggressive role.

Bruno Guimares, who has been in rollicking form with Newcastle United in Premier League, is also another contender if Tite decides to shake things up in the midfield.

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