DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Welcome again, Neymar, at simply the appropriate time on the World Cup.
Neymar appeared wholesome in coaching earlier than Monday’s recreation 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 recreation win over Serbia.
Brazil simply moved into the subsequent spherical with out Neymar. Now not bothered by his ankle, Neymar was anticipated to begin — and never come off the bench as a precautionary measure — if he performs towards South Korea.
“I favor to make use of my greatest participant from the beginning,” Brazil coach Tite mentioned. “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 aim with out indicators of his harm.
“Clearly we gained’t say that it’s higher to face Brazil when Neymar is taking part in, however I at all times favor when the perfect gamers are there,” South Korea coach Paulo Bento mentioned.
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 recreation to spare and was capable of relaxation the group’s stars in its ultimate match, however South Korea needed to claw its approach into the knockout spherical with a win over Portugal.
“It’s not honest,” Bento mentioned. “I believe 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 recreation throughout Qatar to finish. The result of Uruguay towards Ghana decided if the South Korean’s superior into the spherical of 16.
When Uruguay failed to attain the objectives it wanted to greatest South Korea for the ultimate spot in Group H, the South Korean players who had formed a circle on the field to watch the game on phones 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 because the Asian group’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 goal 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 group’s first two video games due to a hamstring harm.
“Within the first match it was unimaginable for me to play and the ache bought worse. I did a little bit operating, however I believed I might play the second match, however they held me out,” Hwang mentioned, including that taking part in towards Portugal “was a little bit 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 Individuals profitable six of seven friendlies. South Korea was victorious in 1999.
“We will’t assume it’s going to be a simple recreation prefer it was in that pleasant,” Brazil captain Thiago Silva mentioned. “Now it’s the World Cup and so they’ve superior in a really robust group. We have now quite a lot of respect for them.”
Japan and Croatia meet for the first time in the knockout round 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 group historical past.
At stake for Japan is its first journey to the quarterfinals in 4 tries.
“Japan is a group that doesn’t stop,” Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić mentioned. “They conceded objectives in the beginning of the match each towards Germany and Spain, however they got here again. That they had quite a lot of religion in themselves, and that could be a nice advantage of the Japan nationwide group.”
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 recreation — a 4-2 loss to reigning World Cup champion France.
It’s the first time Croatia will play an Asian group 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 mentioned. “We can’t make errors as a result of Japan has the standard to punish these errors. We must 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.