SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil won’t be at full strength for its first tuneup for the World Cup.
Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari says three or four players may be rested for the match against Panama on Tuesday because they are not in good physical condition yet.
Scolari did not name the players in question. He said he will follow the recommendations from team doctors, who earlier this week put all players through a series of tests.
Scolari told reporters in Brazil’s training camp in Rio de Janeiro that he hopes to have all of his players available for the match against Serbia on June 6, the team’s last warm-up before the opener against Croatia six days later in Sao Paulo.
“For this first match we will follow what the medical department tells us,” Scolari told Brazilian television. “The group will be evaluated again over the weekend and then we will know who will be fit. We don’t want to risk anything before the World Cup.”
The coach said some of the players sidelined from the friendly may stay in Rio de Janeiro to work on their physical condition. Brazil plays Panama in the central city of Goiania.
“For the second match we will likely have all 23 players available and we will be able to setup the team the way we want,” Scolari said.
Doctors said this week that none of the players arrived for the team’s preparations with significant injuries.
Among the players who may be rested are defenders David Luiz, Thiago Silva and Maxwell, who trained separately from the group on Wednesday. Oscar, Marcelo, Fernandinho and Julio Cesar were among the players who practiced separately on Friday.
“Everyone is fine, but there are some minor adjustments to be made in the preparations,” Luiz said. “I want to play. I hope Scolari will let me.”
Despite the likely absences, Scolari said the team is better prepared physically compared to its runup to the 2002 World Cup, when he coached Brazil to the world title in South Korea and Japan.
Brazil began its preparations for the home tournament on Monday. Players underwent physical tests and only began practicing on Wednesday. The following day, Scolari for the first time separated the starters and the reserves in a training match, hinting that he will begin the World Cup with the same 11 who helped Brazil win the Confederations Cup last year.
Brazil’s match against Serbia is at the Morumbi Stadium in Sao Paulo. The team’s World Cup opener against Croatia will be played in the city’s newly built Itaquerao stadium.
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