Brazil 'Do Not Weaken Without' Neymar, Says PSG Team-Mate Dani Alves

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJune 17, 2019

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JUNE 14: Philippe Coutinho of Brazil celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the Copa America Brazil 2019 group A match between Brazil and Bolivia at Morumbi Stadium on June 14, 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Brazil captain Dani Alves said the Selecao have not been weakened by Neymar's absence from the Copa America following their 3-0 win over Bolivia.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward suffered an ankle injury in the run-up to the tournament that ruled him out of action.

Per Goal's Dejan Kalinic, Alves said at a press conference on Sunday:

"I believe that every time we come to the national team, we wear this shirt, we have to prove it, regardless of whether or not Neymar is there, we have to prove it because we represent a historical team, very respected worldwide.

"But when you have an extra, like Ney, you become a little stronger. But you do not weaken without it, you only increase your qualities, you increase your power, but you do not diminish without him.

"Our responsibility remains the same—we represent a history and we have to defend this history with great honour."

Brazil lost Neymar in their first warm-up game ahead of the Copa. Despite his first-half withdrawal, they secured a 2-0 win over Asian champions Qatar, who are one of two teams invited to participate in this year's Copa alongside Japan.

They followed that up with a resounding 7-0 thrashing of Honduras in a friendly before beating Bolivia in their opening game of the tournament on Friday.

Neymar has 60 goals in 97 matches for Brazil, and he would have come into the Copa on the back of plundering 23 goals and 13 assists from 28 matches with PSG last season.

However, as the Selecao have shown, they have plenty of other goalscoring and creative options who can step up in his place.

Philippe Coutinho netted twice against Bolivia before Everton added the third, and football writer Jack Lang was impressed with Brazil's performance:

Football journalist Rik Sharma sees Neymar's absence as a significant opportunity for Coutinho after the Barcelona playmaker endured a poor club campaign:

Indeed, with an in-form Coutinho in their ranks going for goal and creating chances for the likes of Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino, Brazil's attack will still pose a threat to any side at the Copa even without Neymar.

The Selecao play Venezuela on Tuesday in their second outing. A win will secure a place in the knockout phase.