Thiago Silva is poised to return to the Brazil defence for today’s last-16 meeting with South Korea, and the Chelsea defender has been speaking about the challenges that lie in wait and the availability once more of Neymar.
Like many of Brazil’s first-choice XI, Thiago was rested for the final group game against Cameroon, which ended in a late 1-0 defeat, but by then the Selecao had already booked their place in the last-16.
They last fell at this hurdle in 1990, and doing so again would represent a major shock. But while Brazil did beat South Korea 5-1 in a friendly in June, they face an in-form side riding the crest of a wave after their dramatic last-gasp winner against Portugal which secured qualification.
‘They have a lot of quality in terms of passing, defensively they are strong, and they are good on the counter,’ noted Thiago Silva.
‘In terms of names, they are a tough side. They are players who are amongst the elite, like Son [Heung-min].
‘We know their quality. We can’t expect it will be easy and with a result like the friendly. At the World Cup they went through a super difficult group, and what we can do is respect the opponent and play a great game.’
Brazil have been boosted by the news Neymar is set to return having sat out the past two games through injury.
However, Gabriel Jesus and Alex Telles will miss the remainder of the World Cup after picking up knocks against Cameroon, and the Brazil captain responded to the demanding nature of this tournament.
‘Yesterday's training session was very hard, but at the same time our objective is to continue for them as well. It's how we can comfort them a little. I hope they can recover as quickly as possible. It's good to see Neymar and Danilo on the field and Alex Sandro improving.
‘Those of us who didn't play against Cameroon are in very good physical shape,’ he added.
‘In theory, South Korea will be a little more tired than us, which is normal. In two-and-a-half days of recovery it is almost impossible to recover 100 per cent, but this is a World Cup. I am sure they will be very motivated to face us and change the result of that friendly in Korea.’