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Can Neymar repeat star performance against Mexico tonight?

June 17, 2014 14:23 IST

Can Neymar repeat star performance against Mexico tonight?



World Cup hosts Brazil are back in the spotlight with the chance to get one foot in the last 16 when they face Mexico in Fortaleza on Tuesday.

After their thrilling 3-1 win over Croatia in the Group A opener on Thursday, Brazil will look to build on the feel good factor against Mexico though they may be without forward Hulk due to a thigh injury.

Neymar scored twice against Croatia, underlining his status as one of the most exciting young players in world football, but Brazil must be wary of Mexican forward Giovani dos Santos, who had two goals disallowed before setting up their winner in a 1-0 victory over Cameroon.

Victory for Brazil would be their 11th consecutive win and virtually assure them of a spot in the knockout stages.

Brazil will keep Mexico guessing until the very last minute as to whether they will face Hulk on Tuesday, with coach Luiz Felipe Scolari giving the burly forward every chance to prove his fitness for the Group A game in Fortaleza.

Hulk has undergone tests on a thigh injury after he limped out of a training session on Sunday morning. The player said it was a precaution and that he expected to be fit, but on Monday it was clear Scolari had been weighing up his options.

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Image: Brazil's Neymar (right) celebrates with teammates Marcelo (L) and Hulk after scoring
Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters


'Hulk's absence would be a big loss for Brazil'

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"The other players I have, with a little bit different characteristics, also have different qualities to Hulk and they can add to team, add speed, stronger marking or another type of positioning that could help us more in the game against Mexico," Scolari told a news conference at the Castelao arena on Monday.

"I've got 23 players and these, in my opinion, were well chosen, so there shouldn't be any problem should Hulk not be able to play.

"We will wait for the overall context of the situation and evaluate it tomorrow, before the game," the coach added.

Officials said Hulk underwent magnetic resonance tests in Fortaleza where Brazil play Mexico after both teams won their opening games in Group A.

Hulk's absence would be "a big loss" for Brazil, team captain Thiago Silva said, hinting that Scolari may have already decided on a replacement.

"Whoever he chooses, he can close his eyes and pick Bernard, Willian, he can select Ramires," Silva said, while Scolari joked around and made faces, reacting as if Silva was letting slip his potential choices.

"I'm just giving some examples, because for sure we will be well served," he said. "Far from me (to pick the replacement), since I don't want to be responsible for that."

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Image: Hulk (left) jokes with Luis Gustavo during a training session of the Brazilian national football team at the squad's Granja Comary training complex in Teresopolis, 90 km from downtown Rio de Janeiro on Saturday
Photographs: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

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