Neymar, Luiz to miss WC qualifier
BRAZIL will be without Barcelona star Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain defender David Luiz today, when they face a tricky 2018 World Cup qualifying trip to Paraguay with renewed uncertainty swirling around their campaign.
The Brazilians are licking their wounds after the disappointment of Friday's 2-2 draw with Uruguay, when they squandered a two-goal lead and finished the game clinging on for the point.
For the opening half hour in Recife, Brazil were irresistible, attacking with precision and purpose in what looked like being their best performance since their 2014 World Cup semi-final debacle against Germany.
But Uruguay's fightback, which started with Edinson Cavani's superb volley and completed by Luis Suarez's predatory strike after half-time, has reawakened all the old concerns about Brazil's brittle defence, humiliated in the 7-1 thrashing by the Germans two years ago.
The frustration of allowing Uruguay back into the game eventually got the better of Neymar, who was cautioned for a petulant kick on Alvaro Gonzalez.
He will now be suspended for the trip to Asuncion.
Former Chelsea centre-back Luiz also earned a booking on Friday that will also see him miss the game.
Paraguay are level on eight points with third-placed Brazil after five matches.
Brazil coach Dunga has called up Santos' exciting teenage striker Gabriel Barbosa, a star of the Olympic team, to replace Neymar while Corinthians defender Felipe will come in for Luiz.
Gabriel, 19, known widely as "Gabigol" and regarded as the heir apparent to Neymar, will be making his first senior appearance for Brazil after starring for the Under-23s last year where he scored six goals in four matches.
Paraguay will be looking for all three points against opponents whom they have caused repeated problems in recent years.
Paraguay knocked Brazil out of the Copa America quarter-finals last year and in 2011, and will be quietly confident of another win today.
The Paraguayans were deprived of what would have been a deserved victory against Ecuador on Thursday when a dubious late equaliser saw the surprise qualifying leaders snatch a 2-2 draw.
Coach Ramon Diaz believes the performance against Ecuador augurs well for the clash with Brazil.
"We showed that we're a competitive team who can fight against anyone," he said.
"I hope that the team will continue to grow."
In other matches today, Argentina face Bolivia in Cordoba aiming to continue their recovery with a third consecutive victory following away wins over Colombia and Chile.
Elsewhere, Ecuador face a demanding trip to face Colombia in Barranquilla while Uruguay host Peru in Montevideo.
Chile will aim to bounce back from the disappointment of their home defeat by Argentina last week when they travel to bottom side Venezuela.
The latter have one point only from five matches.
The top four teams from South America's round robin qualifying league qualify automatically for the World Cup in Russia in two years time.
The fifth-placed team face a play-off against a qualifier from the Oceania zone.