Brazil will try to recover from the humiliating loss to Cameroon, as they take on South Korea.
Brazil head into Monday’s World Cup last-16 tie against South Korea preoccupied with the health of the great Pele and with coach Tite wondering whether to recall the Selecao Canarinho’s current number 10 Neymar after an ankle injury kept him out of the last two matches.
Brazil have a fearsome range of attacking options, even with Gabriel Jesus returning home injured, but they have scored just once since Neymar came off with a sprained ankle in their opening 2-0 win over Serbia on November 24.
“With his return, the whole team will improve," said Richarlison, scorer of both goals against Serbia, on Friday. “I hope he comes back. Everyone saw how much we missed him in the last two games. I think him coming back will make me better."
Still, the South Koreans will know that the odds are against them. Coach Paulo Bento’s side has recent experience of how chastening an experience it can be to take on Brazil. The teams met in a friendly in Seoul in June and Brazil romped to a 5-1 victory, with Neymar scoring two penalties.
But this has been a World Cup of upsets. Brazil, Belgium, Argentina and France – the world’s four top-ranked sides – have all lost to significantly less-fancied sides in the group stages of this tournament. Four-time winners Germany could not even make it to the knockouts.
The South Koreans have pulled off their own surprise win too: Their tournament looked to be over until substitute Hwang Hee-chan popped up in injury time to score the winner in a 2-1 victory over already qualified Portugal on Friday.
The South Koreans are the only Asian side to have reached the semi-finals before, when they were co-hosts with Japan in 2002. On Monday, they will be hoping to shock Brazil on their way towards making history again.
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