Brazil coach Tite is still hopeful that Philippe Coutinho can help replace the injured Neymar when he first appeared with national colors for more than 12 months. Coutinho, who joined Aston Villa earlier this month on loan from Barcelona, will replace Selecao in place of suspended Lucas Paqueta in Ecuador’s World Cup qualifier.
The 29-year-old has not played for Brazil since October 2020 undergoing knee surgery in January 2021. Coutinho’s return coincides with Neymar’s absence from the squad due to an ankle injury.
“People always want Neymar, but sometimes things don’t go the way you want,” Tite told reporters.
“We’re sorry Neymar can’t be here, but we have other options. I’m talking about Coutinho. He’s a player who can play that role and I believe in his quality.
“Coutinho is an important player and he has recovered from his excellent condition.”
He added: “From a social and human standpoint, I know how much time she has spent and the challenges she has faced to recover from her injuries.”
Former Liverpool midfielder Coutinho started his career at Villa with a brace, scoring an equalizer in a 2-2 draw with Manchester United earlier.
Brazil have already secured their place in Qatar 2022, but Tite wanted to push his players into the qualifiers for Ecuador and Paraguay on Tuesday.
“I thought emotions and feelings would be easier but no, we have the same feelings and anxieties,” said Tite.
“I want to test the players in the next qualifiers. I still have the same pressure.”
Tite has confirmed that he will include Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid where he will face Ecuador and Raphinha and Matheus Cunha.