DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Welcome again, Neymar, at simply the proper time on the World Cup.
Neymar appeared wholesome in coaching earlier than Monday’s sport towards South Korea within the spherical of 16. The ahead missed the ultimate two matches of the group stage after injuring his proper ankle within the opening sport win over Serbia.
Brazil simply moved into the subsequent spherical with out Neymar. Now not bothered by his ankle, Neymar was anticipated to start out — and never come off the bench as a precautionary measure — if he performs towards South Korea.
“I favor to make use of my finest participant from the beginning,” Brazil coach Tite stated. “It’s the coach who has to make that call and tackle that duty.”
In footage launched by the Brazilian soccer federation, he seemed to be in good situation, doing drills with the ball and taking pictures on purpose with out indicators of his damage.
“Clearly we gained’t say that it’s higher to face Brazil when Neymar is enjoying, however I all the time favor when one of the best gamers are there,” South Korea coach Paulo Bento stated.
Bento hasn’t been happy with the three-day relaxation interval between video games from the group stage to the knockout spherical. Brazil superior with a sport to spare and was capable of relaxation the staff’s stars in its remaining match, however South Korea needed to claw its method into the knockout spherical with a win over Portugal.
“It’s not honest,” Bento stated. “I feel that it has to do with the brand new FIFA actuality, which is to create worse circumstances for the less-favored groups and doubtless higher circumstances for the more-favored ones.”
Even after the shock win over Portugal, South Korea needed to look forward to over 9 agonizing minutes of additional time for a sport throughout Qatar to finish. The end result of Uruguay towards Ghana decided if the South Korean’s superior into the spherical of 16.
When Uruguay failed to attain the targets it wanted to finest South Korea for the ultimate spot in Group H, the South Korean gamers who had fashioned a circle on the sphere to look at the sport on telephones erupted into joyous celebration.
South Korean captain Son Heung-min even started to cry.
South Korea is now making an attempt to advance previous the spherical of 16 for the primary time for the reason that Asian staff’s historic run as a co-host in 2002, when it reached the semifinals and completed fourth. South Korea was eradicated within the group stage in 2014 and 2018.
South Korea superior by beating Portugal 2-1 with a dramatic stoppage-time purpose by Hwang Hee-chan, who was a second-half substitute. He’s anticipated to be within the beginning lineup once more towards Brazil after lacking the staff’s first two video games due to a hamstring damage.
“Within the first match it was inconceivable for me to play and the ache acquired worse. I did somewhat working, however I believed I might play the second match, however they held me out,” Hwang stated, including that enjoying towards Portugal “was somewhat little bit of a threat. However I didn’t care what occurred to me personally. I simply wished to contribute.”
It will likely be the primary official assembly between Brazil and South Korea, with the South People successful six of seven friendlies. South Korea was victorious in 1999.
“We are able to’t assume it’s going to be a straightforward sport prefer it was in that pleasant,” Brazil captain Thiago Silva stated. “Now it’s the World Cup they usually’ve superior in a really robust group. We’ve plenty of respect for them.”
Japan and Croatia meet for the primary time within the knockout spherical of the World Cup after the groups squared off two earlier occasions in group play. Croatia gained in 1998 and the groups completed with a goalless draw eight years later.
This time, Japan gained Group E after come-from-behind 2-1 victories over Germany and Spain and is within the knockout spherical for back-to-back tournaments for the primary time in staff historical past.
At stake for Japan is its first journey to the quarterfinals in 4 tries.
“Japan is a staff that doesn’t stop,” Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić stated. “They conceded targets in the beginning of the match each towards Germany and Spain, however they got here again. That they had plenty of religion in themselves, and that may be a nice advantage of the Japan nationwide staff.”
Croatia, the runner-up to France within the 2018 World Cup, is making its third look within the knockout spherical. Croatia beat Romania in 1998 to advance to the semifinals and defeated Denmark 3-2 on penalties in 2018 en path to the ultimate sport — a 4-2 loss to reigning World Cup champion France.
It’s the first time Croatia will play an Asian staff in a World Cup knockout match after eight earlier video games towards European groups.
“For us, will probably be key that we’re additionally disciplined and affected person,” Dalić stated. “We can not make errors as a result of Japan has the standard to punish these errors. We have to be good at falling again if we lose the ball.”
Croatia superior regardless of two goalless attracts in group play — equaling the variety of scoreless video games it had within the 2006, 2014 and 2018 tournaments, a span of 13 video games.
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