Brazil coach Tite admits he should have replaced Danilo and Neymar before the pair sustained injuries against Serbia but defends Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic saying he didn’t want to hurt the PSG star.
Neymar and Danilo’s injuries spoiled Brazil’s 2-0 win over Serbia on Thursday. Both players sustained ankle injuries and are not expected to be back before the knock-out phase, missing games against Switzerland and Cameroon.
Neymar was fouled several times in the match against Serbia, but it was a tackle from Fiorentina’s Milenkovic in the second half to force his exit.
“It was not a reckless tackle, the player [Milenkovic] didn’t want to hurt Neymar, but maybe somebody before him wanted to do so,” Tite said at a press conference on Sunday, as quoted by Gazzetta.
“I hadn’t figured out how much Neymar was hurt, but I subbed him off after finding out. I should have replaced him and Danilo earlier,” the coach admitted.
Danilo suffered precisely the same injury four years ago in Russia and did not return to action in the World Cup after the first match in the group phase.
The Juventus defender hopes to be back for the Round of 16 along with Neymar. Brazil face Switzerland in the second match of Group G on Monday at 16.00 GMT.