Souza Gets Brazil Chance Against Australia

Diego Souza will replace injured striker Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho is line to lead Brazil in Tuesday’s friendly with Australia in Melbourne.

A replacement had to be found for Manchester City’s Jesus, who has returned home after suffering a fractured eye socket in Brazil’s 1-0 Superclasico loss to Argentina at the MCG on Friday.

It will be Souza’s chance to impress team manager Tite ahead of next year’s World Cup in Russia and represents his first opportunity to start for Brazil after late substitute appearances in qualifiers against Uruguay and Paraguay this year.

“For me it’s great to be called up and to have the opportunity to play,” said Souza, who normally plays as an attacking midfielder for Sport Recife.

“It will be important to show my best. There are so many centre-forward options in Brazil: Fred, Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, are all looking for a place in the team.

“I’ve have the dream of maybe being at a World Cup, it’s difficult, they’re very good players, the competition is great, but I’m enjoying it.”

Along with Souza, Brazil are likely to make further team changes with Diego Alves, Rafinha, Rodrigo Caio, Alex Sandro, David Luiz, Giuliano and Douglas Costa all pressing for a start.

Only Thiago Silva, Paulinho and Coutinho are expected to feature from the side that faced Argentina, with the Liverpool midfielder Coutinho in line to captain his country against the Socceroos.

Brazilian reports said that Tite would continue the rotation of captains in the national team with Coutinho to take over the captain’s armband after Thiago Silva led the team against Argentina on Friday.

Team coordinator Edu Gaspar, the former Arsenal, Valencia and Brazil midfielder, said his country viewed the Socceroos game as vital 2018 World Cup preparation.

“We’re not sure yet (about all the changes) Tite (will decide). But our expectations are the same as when we played Argentina,” Edu told reporters.

“When Brazil goes onto the pitch, we want to do our best and we’re very excited to play a good game and play our best.”

Brazil, who have already qualified for Russia 2018, did not bring leading stars Neymar, Marcelo, Dani Alves and Roberto Firmino to Australia.

“To be qualified for the World Cup is important, that was our main goal, so the Argentina game was good as preparation,” he said.

“We had a good game a few players like Thiago Silva, Fernandinho played very well. We didn’t want to lose but we can’t complain, we didn’t have a bad game.”

The Socceroos are coming off a 3-2 home win over Saudi Arabia last Thursday which kept alive their automatic qualifying hopes for next year’s World Cup finals.

Australia are using the prestige Brazil friendly as their final match preparation for this month’s Confederations Cup in Russia.

“Anytime that kind of opportunity comes along you want to make the most of it,” Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said.

“I guess the key is not to get too caught up in who the opponent is but make sure you get something out of the exercise.”

Former Everton star Tim Cahill is expected to get some game time against Brazil.

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