By Lisa Flueckiger, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazilian national team coach Carlos Dunga had to replace several key players after injuries ahead of the Copa America championship. Diego Alves, Marcelo and Luiz Gustavo are all unable to play the tournament in Chile and have been or will be substituted.
Goal keeper Diego Alves from Spanish club Valencia suffered a knee ligament injury and will have to go through surgery. He was replaced by Fiorentina last man Neto, who received his first call-up for Brazil’s senior squad.
Marcelo from Real Madrid was cut from the Copa America squad after the left back had complained about back pains. In his place, 21-year-old Geferson from Brazilian club Internacional was called up, a surprise as Dunga had originally announced he wouldn’t take any Seleção rookies to the tournament. Geferson was also not on the stand-by list for the championship, however, no other left back was.
The latest player to leave the Brazilian Copa America squad is Wolfsburg’s Luiz Gustavo. The winger played in the German cup final and scored for the Wolves in their victory over Borussia Dortmund, but was found to have a meniscus injury when he arrived in Brazil.
“He really wanted to participate in the Copa America, but [now] we just have to thank him and wish him a speedy recovery,” CBF member Gilmar Rinaldi said.
The player substituting Luiz Gustavo has not yet been announced. Other wingers on the stand-by list include Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk, Felipe Anderson from Lazio, Rafinha Alcantara from Barcelona and Kaká from Orlando City.
The Seleção squad is currently gathered in their preparation camp at Granja Comary in Rio’s Teresópolis. Captain Neymar will join the team after Barcelona’s participation in the Champions League final on Saturday, June 6th, while Everton Ribeiro and Douglas Costa should join the squad in time for the first friendly game against Mexico.
Brazil will play two friendlies in the next days; first against Mexico in the Palmeiras Arena in São Paulo on June 7th and then against Honduras on June 10th in the Beira-Rio stadium in Porto Alegre, before traveling to Chile to play the first Copa America match against Peru on June 14th.