RIO DE JANEIRO — Strikers Neymar and Douglas Costa head a young Brazil Olympic football squad looking to bounce back from humiliation in the Copa America Centenario, stand-in coach Rogerio Micale announced Wednesday.
On home soil in next month’s Games in Rio two years after their devastating 7-1 semifinal loss to Germany, Brazil is bidding to add Olympic gold to its three silver medals, two bronze and five World Cup titles.
Barcelona’s Neymar, Costa of Bayern Munich and goalkeeper Fernando Prass, 37, are the only players aged over 23 in the squad.
It is Prass’s first international call-up. Micale hailed his “leadership profile” and the “excellent season” he has had as captain of Palmeiras. The Spanish champion allowed Neymar, 24, to play in the Olympics but not this month’s Copa America, in which Brazil was knocked out at the group stage.
”Neymar is different. He is one of the best players in the world. Any national team would want to have a player of his profile,” Micale told a news conference.
”He will mean a lot for the team. I hope he will be able to help the younger players.”
The Copa humiliation got coach Dunga fired. Corinthians boss Tite was named to replace him, but Micale will lead the team at the Olympics before Tite takes over.
Micale selected Paris Saint Germain defender Marquinhos but chose to drop his PSG teammate Thiago Silva.
Brazil faces South Africa, Iraq and Denmark in the group stage at the Olympics, which run from August 5 to 21.
Goalkeepers: Fernando Prass (Palmeiras), Uilson (Atletico Mineiro). Defenders: Luan (Vasco), Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo), Marquinhos (Paris SG/FRA), Douglas Santos (Atletico Mineiro), William (Internacional), Zeca (Santos).
Midfielders: Rafinha (Barcelona/ESP), Rodrigo Dourado (Internacional), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk/UKR), Thiago Maia (Santos), Felipe Anderson (Lazio/ITA). Strikers: Neymar (Barcelona/ESP), Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich/GER), Gabriel Barbosa (Santos), Gabriel Jesus (Palmeiras), Luan (Gremio).
Messi’s Argentina no 1986 heroes – Maradona
Diego Maradona apparently boasted that his 1986 World Cup-winning Argentina team was better than the current squad now thrown into turmoil by Lionel Messi’s departure, in a recording published Wednesday.
Previously critical of Messi, the 55-year-old ex-national captain and 2010 World Cup coach joined calls this week for him to reverse his decision to retire from the Argentina national team after a morale crushing penalty shoot-out defeat to Chile in the Copa America Centenario final.
But in a recording published online by Argentine media, he was heard apparently belittling the side led by Messi.
”Every second that goes by makes us greater, because we went and played with balls… We didn’t go and play against Chile. We beat Germany,” Maradona told his old World Cup teammates in a recorded message to celebrate commemorating the 1986 victory.
”You know what I mean: the difference there is between one team and another.”
Argentina’s congress held a tribute to the 1986 squad Tuesday to mark the 30th anniversary of their triumph, but Maradona did not attend.