Everton and Neres in contention for Neymar’s spot in Brazil
SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil’s 3-0 win over Bolivia in the Copa America opener Friday showed two players fighting for the starting position that until recently belonged to injured Neymar.
Everton scored the third with a blast from the edge of the box, at the best Arjen Robben style, while David Neres was Brazil’s sharpest dribbler in the match at the Morumbi Stadium in Sao Paulo. Both played in the left wing, where Neymar would be if he had not injured his right ankle in a friendly last week.
The 23-year-old Everton replaced 22-year-old Neres at 80 minutes, when Brazil stopped pressuring Bolivia and Bolivia did little to hurt Brazil’s advantage.
The Gremio striker has been in top form in Brazil, with nine goals in the year. The screamer against Bolivia was his first for the national team.
The Ajax winger is having an even better season, after he became a key player for Ajax to reach the Champions League semifinal. Many fans believe the Dutch side did not play in the final because Neres was absent in the 3-2 home defeat against Tottenham, which qualified the English team to play against Liverpool.
Brazil coach Tite picked Neres to start because of his European experience, but hinted Everton is now in contention after the goal in Sao Paulo.
“Everton is a vertical player. He is acute, he is incisive,” Tite said. “David is very aggressive. Not so much when it comes to finishing, but with dribbles, with his one-on-ones.”
Everton said he wasn’t thinking of fighting for the starting position. All he wanted at the Morumbi was to score a goal.
“I was pressuring myself a lot for that goal. My anxiety bothered me a little, I wanted to score for Brazil so much,” he said. “I am happy for taking that weigh out of my back.”
Neres was also impressed by Everton’s goal. He sees the competition as “an extra boost for everyone.”
“We all need to be ready to help whenever we are needed, and he was ready tonight,” the Brazilian said.
Tite will have until next Tuesday to decide, when Brazil takes on Venezuela in Salvador.
Brazil leads Group A with three points.