Brazil coach Tite has said Neymar is yet to return to peak condition but expects the forward to make an early impact at the World Cup.
Neymar is yet to reach 100 percent in his recovery from a broken foot but is poised to star for Brazil at the World Cup, according to head coach Tite.
The 26-year-old forward sustained a fractured metatarsal in February, placing his World Cup participation in some doubt.
The former Santos attacker made a scoring return to action in friendly wins over Croatia and Austria prior to Brazil’s arrival in Russia, where they will take on Switzerland in their Group E opener in Rostov-on-Don on Sunday.
And while Neymar still has work to do to get back to his very best level, Tite believes he is still capable of exerting a decisive impact as Brazil go in search of a sixth World Cup triumph.
“Neymar is not 100 percent yet,” he told a news conference at Rostov Arena.
“But he is very privileged physically, his sprinting capacity and his speed is really impressive, he hasn’t lost that. He’s not 100 percent yet. But he’s good enough to play very well.”
“Well, you’re going to see this on the pitch, it changes, it gets stronger, it shows itself,” he said of his preferred XI, as Gabriel Jesus, Douglas Costa and Roberto Firmino also vie to feature from kick-off.
“With 23 top athletes, today yes [Willian could start], but I can’t say about tomorrow, I don’t know what could happen, if you have a physical problem… I would like him to play a lot but he has to prove himself.”
After suffering a crushing 7-1 loss to Germany in the semi-finals of the previous World Cup on home soil, Brazil also underwhelmed in the Copa America, a group-stage exit in 2016 ending Dunga’s second spell in charge.
The Selecao have flourished under Tite and wants Brazil to sustain their excellence in the lead-up to the finals in Russia.
“It was a challenge, it still is, to keep the standards [up],” he said.
“We were challenging them [the players]. We want to have this expectation for ourselves. We want every game to reproduce this standard or even top it.