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Without Neymar, Brazil takes on Switzerland at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — There’s no Neymar facing Switzerland at the World Cup on Monday.

Just Richarlison. And Vinicius Junior. And Raphinha. And Rodrygo. And all the rest of the star-laden options in a deep and talented Brazilian squad lacking its most famous player.

“Each and every one is super skilled, even the center backs and goalkeeper,” Switzerland coach Murat Yakin said Sunday, describing the Brazil players. “They are here to get the title. That’s almost a must for them.”

Neymar’s ankle injury, suffered in a 2-0 win over hard-tackling Serbia on Thursday, is likely to keep the Brazil No. 10 out of action for the rest of the Group G games.

The spotlight was already shining brightly on No. 9 Richarlison after a stellar, scissor-kick shot for his second goal against the Serbs.

Yakin certainly appreciated what was perhaps the standout individual moment of the first week in Qatar.

“Absolutely, that’s why we love football, why we watch it, to see such goals,” he said in comments translated from German.

Brazil coach Tite spoke of the different routes to goal his team has without Neymar.

“Maybe we’ll see a feint or dribble from Vini, maybe we’ll see creativity when finishing a play from Richarlison or a header from Pedro," he said.

“This will come up because they have that creativity,” Tite said. "It’s impressive how calm they can be to do things even under all this pressure.”

Still, Switzerland knew how to stop the Brazil attack when Neymar was playing at the 2018 World Cup, which the teams opened by playing to a 1-1 draw.

“They are very difficult to win against,” said Marquinhos, now a starter in central defense who watched the 2018 draw from the bench in Russia.

Some of Europe’s best teams have also found the Swiss a tough out in the past 18 months.

Switzerland beat Portugal and Spain in the Nations League this year. Last year, the Swiss eliminated world champion France in the European Championship and advanced to Qatar by finishing above Euro 2020 winner Italy in their World Cup qualifying group.

“We’ve been challenged by great teams and we’ve been able to score,” said forward Xherdan Shaqiri, who is playing in his fourth World Cup, a Swiss record. “If we score a goal I think we can completely change the game.”

Shaqiri laid on the pass for Breel Embolo to score the only goal in a 1-0 win against Cameroon that opened the group on Thursday. The Swiss did just enough to take the three points against its expected weakest opponent.

Top-ranked Brazil must make a second enforced change with Éder Militão or Dani Alves available to replace Danilo, who like Neymar was injured against Serbia.

Tite said he had decided on his lineup but would not share it ahead of Monday evening. Serbia faces Cameroon earlier in the day.

Switzerland will be without Noah Okafor, the Salzburg forward who has been a favored speedy option from the bench late in games.

___

AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports