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Brazil to rest players against Cameroon ahead of knockouts

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Veteran right-back Dani Alves is likely to start for already-qualified Brazil in their final Group G match against Cameroon. AFP

Brazil to rest players against Cameroon ahead of knockouts

Brazil coach Tite is set to follow the lead of France and rest key players for their final World Cup group game against Cameroon on Friday (at 2am Cambodian time) with their place in the last 16 in Qatar already secure.

The World Cup favourites meet Cameroon at the Lusail Stadium needing just a draw to secure top spot in Group G after starting their campaign with wins over Serbia and Switzerland.

Even a defeat would not stop them topping the section so long as the Swiss fail to win at the same time against Serbia – but France have already shown that changing most of your starting line-up does not necessarily work out.

The holders made nine changes for their final group game against Tunisia on Wednesday and put in a disjointed performance in a 1-0 defeat.

"I can only measure the players based on what they do on the field. It is a risk, yes, but it is an opportunity for them to show their quality," Tite said when asked about the pitfalls of making too many alterations.

Brazil will still be without Neymar and right-back Danilo, who both suffered ankle injuries against Cameroon, while left-back Alex Sandro is ruled out too.

Tite is expected to rest the likes of goalkeeper Alisson Becker, centre-back duo Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, Casemiro, Lucas Paqueta, Vinicius Junior and Richarlison against a Cameroon side who have to win to stand a chance of progressing.

Among the players set to come into the side are Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson, Liverpool midfielder Fabinho, and veteran right-back Dani Alves.

The decision to include the 39-year-old Alves, who made his international debut in 2006, in the squad was criticised in some quarters in Brazil.

Alves, who missed the 2018 tournament due to injury, ended a second spell at Barcelona at the end of last season and is now playing club football in Mexico.

"I have been playing for Brazil for many years and it gives me great satisfaction to be able to close out this cycle by playing at a World Cup," said Alves, who could be joined in Tite's line-up by the likes of Antony and Gabriel Martinelli, who are aged 22 and 21 respectively.

"I have been here for 16 years, and this is the most balanced squad we have had in that time," he said.

"Age doesn't matter in football. Whether you are the youngest or oldest, all that matters is if you are good enough."

Brazil have lost just once in the first round of the World Cup since 1966, and that defeat in 1998 to Norway came after they had already sewn up top spot in the group.

If they top the group, they will play their last-16 tie on Monday against the runners-up in Group H, which features Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea.

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