Porto Alegre, Brazil, Jun 27: Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho has been ruled out of Brazil's Copa America quarterfinal against Paraguay with a knee injury, Selecao boss Tite said on Wednesday.
Fernandinho missed the hosts' 5-0 win over Peru on Saturday because of pain in his right knee and, despite intense physiotherapy, the 34-year-old has failed to recover in time for Thursday's clash at Arena do Gremio. He will be replaced by Napoli's Allan, who joins Barcelona No. 8 Arthur as a designated holding midfielder. "Allan will play. Fernandinho will miss out," Tite told a news conference here. "If we win he will probably be alright for the next match. I said that Fernandinho would play if he was 100% fit. And he isn't."
Allan, who began his career as an attacking playmaker, was given a more defensive role by Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti last season and proved highly effective in the position. Tite said the former Vasco da Gama player would be tasked with shoring up Brazil's defence against Paraguay, allowing Arthur more freedom to go forward. "Having Allan there allows us to utilize Arthur in a more attacking way," Tite said.
In addition to Fernandinho's absence, Brazil will be without suspended Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro against the Guaranies. The Selecao have lost just two matches - against Argentina and Belgium - since Tite took charge of the team in September 2016. Both defeats coincided with the absence of Casemiro, prompting journalists to ask Tite if that bode ill for Brazil on Thursday. "The big challenge is changing that statistic," he said.
Paraguay have been a thorn in Brazil's side at recent major tournaments, having eliminated the five-time world champions in the 2011 and 2015 editions of the Copa America. Tite lavished praise on Eduardo Berizzo's men and said the Selecao would afford them utmost respect."They have strong mental characteristics and are very physical," he said. "We know that we have to have a high level of concentration and take extra care at set pieces. (XINHUA)