Football

Brazil are strong even without Neymar: Sane

Germany stars note Selecao's improvement since 2014

Brazil are one of the favourites for this year's World Cup despite an injury to their superstar Neymar, said Germany winger Leroy Sane yesterday.

He said: "Brazil are a strong side even without Neymar... They aren't as dependent on Neymar as they were in 2014.

"They are better positioned and have a few new stars, but it still makes a big difference whether Neymar plays or not."

Germany host Brazil in a mouth-watering friendly at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on Wednesday morning (Singapore time) as part of both teams' build-up to June's World Cup Finals in Russia.

It will be their first meeting since the Germans stunned Brazil with five goals inside half an hour in a 7-1 romp in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup in Belo Horizonte.

Just as back then, Brazil forward Neymar is sidelined by injury.

This time, the world's most expensive player is recovering from foot surgery.

He is expected to be fit in time for the World Cup, which kicks off on June 14.

Brazil beat Russia 3-0 last Friday with three goals in 13 minutes by Miranda, Paulinho and a Philippe Coutinho penalty at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium, which hosts the World Cup final on July 15.

Germany warmed up with a 1-1 draw with Spain in Duesseldorf as Rodrigo Moreno's early goal for the visitors was cancelled out by Thomas Mueller's first-half strike.

Sane, who is expected to take Julian Draxler's place on the wing against Brazil, believes the Selecao are one of the World Cup favourites.

He said: "They are a great team with a good mix of old and young players, they are technically strong, but they also have tough players in defence. They can't be underestimated, because they are clearly among the World Cup favourites."

Earlier, midfielder Toni Kroos had said the same thing, adding that this Brazil team are two grades better than the side that lost 7-1 to them in 2014.

Said Kroos: "When I look at the current team in comparison to 2014, they are two grades better. They have really good people, my (Real Madrid) team-mate Casemiro is doing well - they have come together well."

Besides Sane, his Manchester City teammate Ilkay Guendogan could also play against Brazil, replacing Sami Khedira in midfield.

Loew has said he expects to make up to five changes from the team which drew with Spain. Mueller and Mesut Oezil have been released by Loew to rest, while Liverpool midfielder Emre Can has dropped out with a back injury. - AFP

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