Brazil's Tite: 'Douglas Costa will not replace Neymar, he will be Douglas Costa'
Brazil boss Tite says Neymar is "irreplaceable" to the Selecao and has advised his substitute, Douglas Costa, to be himself, not the PSG star, for the upcoming friendlies against Russia and Germany.
Neymar is back in Brazil as he recovers from surgery on a broken bone in his right foot and will miss the March 23 and March 27 matches.
Tite has selected Costa to start in his place for the match against Russia on Friday, but cautioned that the Juventus winger not to try and replicate Neymar's displays.
"Neymar is irreplaceable. For the high level and quality he has, among the top three [players]. Douglas Costa will not replace Neymar, he will be Douglas Costa," Tite said at a news conference on Thursday.
Tite added of his talisman: "We have to assume the responsibility of being strong as a team. I can't put it on the back of the main player, of the most famous, to solve things.
Neymar also posted an update of his rehabilitation on Instagram on Thursday, showing his right leg out of the boot he has been wearing in recent weeks.
"Kaka said he was considered the best in the world because the team was very good. The last Brazilian to win the Ballon d'Or, but spoke of team strength, it's greatness. Neymar will be strong if the team is strong."
The former Corinthians coach is expected to mix-up his midfield against the Russians, choosing a trio of Casemiro, Paulinho and Philippe Coutinho to pull the strings.
"Casemiro's role and the majority of the players is to do what they do for their clubs. When we watch a City match, the two directors that brought us train the players for us. The other is that they are put to play in similar roles so that they can continue well and return more confident and emotionally strong.
"Casemiro will have the same role he has at Real. Coutinho has already worked in this central role at Liverpool. He has already worked inside the national team, he's not beginning, but entering in the course of games.
"And Paulinho is in a role that he also does, sometimes more advanced, in others back more. More freedom for Coutinho and Paulinho more as the second man [in midfield] without losing his essence. Infiltrating the area is his characteristic."
Chelsea's Willian will join Douglas Costa in the wide forward positions.
Tite explained his reasons for the pairing, saying: "Changing characteristics, their mobility is most important, gaining width but the player will have freedom to roam. We won't give up on having three players up front [...].
"They are more aggressive players and vertical, and less playmakers."
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