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Copa America: Neymar and Alexis Sanchez return to Brazil against Chile

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Image source: GETTY IMAGES

Photo of Neymar during a training session in Brazil earlier this week.

Defending champions Brazil and Chile will have their star players back in action when they meet in the Copa America quarterfinals on Friday.

Neymar will return to Brazil, and Alexis Sanchez has recovered from a calf muscle injury before the match at the Nilton Santos Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Celesao spared a group of regular starters in the 1-1 draw with Ecuador on Sunday, resting Neymar, defender Thiago Silva and striker Gabriel Jesus. Others, including Casemiro, came in as substitutes for this game.

Brazil, with three wins in four Copa America matches, is the clear favorite to win. Chile’s only victory in the group stage was against Bolivia and lacks the form to inspire its back championship victories in 2015 and ’16.

The last memorable match between Brazil and Chile was in the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup. The regular time ended 1-1, with goals from David Luis and Sanchez. The Chileans almost beat the hosts in overtime, with a shot by Mauricio Pinilla hit the crossbar in the last minute.

But Brazil won on penalties, 3-2 – Pinilla also missed his place. Thiago Silva, who could start on Friday, was marked by this match because of his tears of tension during the shootout.

“I did not program myself to become emotional. It just happened, “Silva told a news conference on Wednesday. “At that moment, I was negatively labeled against Chile. It was a very sad long time for me, but it was also a learning experience so that I could prepare for other goals, decisive matches. “

Sanchez missed Chile’s group stage matches and his absence affected the team’s production; La Roja scored just three goals, with Eduardo Vargas scoring twice and Ben Breretton once.

Coach Martin Lasarte will decide after training on Thursday whether the 32-year-old Sanchez will start against Brazil or get off the bench.

“It’s always difficult to play against the host, but Brazil is also the team that is probably in the best shape,” said Lasarte. “We have to play our best game so far. This is always possible. We will try to nullify their virtues and explore their shortcomings. “

Also Friday, the 2019 Copa America vice-champion will face Paraguay at the Olimpico Stadium in Goiania. The winner will face Brazil or Chile in the semifinals in Rio.

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