By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s National Soccer Team coach, Tite, announced on Friday his list of 23 players for the Copa America 2019, which will be held starting in June.
“This was the most difficult list I have had to put together,” said the coach during the press conference in Rio de Janeiro, announcing the players.
This year’s Copa America will be held in Brazil, with the opening match of the competition, Brazil vs. Bolivia, played on June 14th at the Morumbi Stadium in São Paulo. The final match will be held at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on July 7th.
There were few surprises in Friday’s roster announcement. Tite called fourteen players who played in the 2018 Russian World Cup, including Neymar, Thiago Silva, and Gabriel Jesus, but added newcomers to the Brazilian team, like David Neres (Ajax) and Lucas Paqueta (Milan).
One of the surprises named to the squad was Manchester City’s Fernandinho, who many say was one of the players responsible for the elimination of Brazil in Russia’s World Cup. The player was severely criticized at the time and had said he would rather not defend the national team again.
The coach refused to answer reporters’ questions about Neymar’s recent injuries and disciplinary problems or whether the player would remain captain of the team. The Paris-Saint Germain player sat on the sidelines for three months earlier this year due to an ankle injury and was banned for three games after hitting a fan after the French Cup final earlier this month.
Of the 23 players, only three currently play for Brazilian teams.
Copa America will be held in five host cities: Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and São Paulo. The Cup will have the participation of twelve teams, ten of which will be from South America: Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. There will also be two guest teams: Qatar and Japan.
The last time Brazil won the Copa America was in 2007.