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Coutinho returns to Brazil squad for World Cup qualifiers

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Rio de Janeiro, Oct 30 (IANS) Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho has been recalled to Brazil’s national squad for 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Colombia and Argentina.

The 29-year-old has not represented the Selecao since October last year because of a left knee injury that twice required surgery. He has made just seven starts for Barcelona across all competitions this season.

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“He’s a midfielder who creates things, a great player regaining his form,” Tite told a news conference on Friday evening. Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino also returned to the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury.

But there was no place for 21-year-old attacker Vinicius Junior, despite his impressive form for Real Madrid this season, Xinhua reports. Everton forward Richarlison was also left out as he returns to full fitness following a knee injury.

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Brazil will host Colombia in Sao Paulo on November 11 before meeting Argentina in Buenos Aires five days later.

The five-time World Cup winners currently lead the 10-team South American qualifying group with 31 points from 11 matches, six points ahead of second-placed Argentina.

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Brazil squad:

Goalkeepers: Alisson (Liverpool/ENG), Emerson (Manchester City/ENG), Gabriel Chapeco (Gremio)

Defenders: Danilo (Juventus/ITA), Emerson Royal (Tottenham/ENG), Alex Sandro (Juventus/ITA), Renan Lodi (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Eder Militao (Real Madrid/ESP), Lucas Verissimo (Benfica/POR), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Thiago Silva (Chelsea/ENG)

Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid/ESP), Fred (Manchester United/ENG), Fabinho (Liverpool/ENG), Gerson (Marseille/FRA), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon/FRA), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona/ESP)

Forwards: Antony (Ajax/HOL), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool/ENG), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City/ENG), Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Raphinha (Leeds United/ENG).

–IANS

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