In the snow without Neymar, Brazil brace for Russia

Training between mounds of snow without Neymar, Brazil may be forgiven for feeling out of their element as they prepare to face hosts Russia in their penultimate World Cup warmup.

The most expensive footballer on the planet is back home, celebrating his sister’s birthday with his famous right foot recovering from surgery in a protective boot.

But things are deadly serious in Moscow, where the Selecao play on Friday at the same Luzhniki Stadium in which they hope to lift a record sixth World Cup trophy on July 15.

Coach Tite will try to make sure his superstars have learned from the unmitigated disaster of their 7-1 drubbing by Germany, whom Brazil play on Tuesday, on home soil back in 2014.

That fateful World Cup semi-final was played without the injured Neymar or suspended centre-back Thiago Silva.

Now, as then, Brazil are looking vulnerable in defence and missing their 26-year-old hero.

“Neymar is a unique player. He is not here and replacing him is all but impossible,” Tite said after Thursday’s training session.

“But my team has a lot of capable players and I am giving them every opportunity possible to prove themselves.”

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