Thiago Silva backs “humble” Neymar to shine ahead of Brazil’s World Cup opener against Serbia

Thiago Silva backs “humble” Neymar to shine ahead of Brazil’s World Cup opener against Serbia

Captain Thiago Silva knows Brazil face “tough competition” in Qatar but feels his squad is relaxed as they prepare to launch their World Cup bid with their Group G opener against Serbia.

The Selecao went to the Gulf state number one in the FIFA rankings and qualified for the top of the South American CONMEBOL standings.

It has been 20 years since Cafu lifted the trophy in Yokohama, with plenty of heartbreak since, including being humiliated on home soil by a chastening 7-1 semi-finalists against Germany in 2014.

Brazil captain Thiago Silva has insisted his team is

Brazil captain Thiago Silva has insisted his side are “ready” for the World Cup in Qatar

After being knocked out by Belgium in the quarter-finals in 2018, Chelsea defender Silva knows there are heightened expectations to make a further impact in Qatar.

“We know it’s a tough competition and we needed to be ready, first of all for the first game,” said the 38-year-old.

– We all know how important it is that the first game must handle our nerves, and in that respect we are sure that we will have a good performance.

“We really believe in everything we’ve done up to today and are about to make our first appearance in the World Cup in a very favorable position, in the sense of being good in every way.

– What I can say to the Brazil fans is that believe in us – rest assured that we are ready to do a great World Cup.

“Obviously the title is still very far away, but we can dream on and that’s what we do every day.”

Neymar is closing in on Pele’s all-time goalscoring record and needs just two more to draw level with the Brazil great.

The 38-year-old praised his 'humble' teammate Neymar as a key part of the Brazil team

The 38-year-old praised his ‘humble’ teammate Neymar as a key part of the Brazil team

Silva feels the 30-year-old, who missed the 2014 semi-final through injury, can deliver again on the biggest stage.

“Now with a different preparation, without any injury and any concern, we see a better Neymar,” Silva said.

He is humble and our group will make Neymar even more comfortable with us. We will share the responsibility as players and that will help us move forward.

“Our interplay will help him play better and we must take advantage of this best Neymar mode.”

Brazil coach Tite is set to step down at the end of the tournament, which will be his second World Cup campaign.

Selecao head coach Tite will step down after the tournament

Selecao head coach Tite will step down after the tournament

The 61-year-old said: ‘Not only do we have pressure but we also want to take advantage of it because dreaming is part of our life.

“We dream of being the winner, and if we can’t be the winner, then we will do our best.

“We have hopes, but we are also aware that there are very good teams (here) playing at the same level as Brazil.”

Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic is confident his side will hold their own against a star-studded Brazilian side.

“Brazil is a great team, one of the best in the world,” he said. “It is for me, I think a golden generation of players at this moment and of course it will be an extremely difficult game.

Serbia boss Dragan Stojkovic named Brazil's side one

Serbia boss Dragan Stojkovic called Brazil’s side a “golden generation” before the match

– But we as a team must be very focused on our own style of football.

“We are not afraid, no team in the world scares me – not even Brazil because we don’t have to be afraid of anyone.”

Stojkovic remains hopeful about the form of striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who missed Fulham’s last couple of Premier League games with a foot problem.

“For the last four or five days he has been working with the team,” Stojkovic said. “The good news is that he doesn’t feel the pain in the area where he had the injury.”

The Serbia boss said Juventus wing-back Filip Kostic was doubtful with a muscle problem.

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