Copa America | Neymar, Sanchez back for knockouts

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Brazil starts favourite against Chile in the quarterfinals.

Defending champion Brazil and Chile will have their star players back in action when they meet in the Copa America quarterfinals on Friday.

Neymar will return for Brazil and Alexis Sanchez has recovered from a calf-muscle injury ahead of the encounter at the Nilton Santos Stadium here.

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The Selecao spared a group of regular starters in the 1-1 draw with Ecuador on Sunday, resting Neymar, defender Thiago Silva and striker Gabriel Jesus. Others, including Casemiro, entered as substitutes in that game.

Brazil, with three wins in four matches, is the clear favourite to win.

Chile lacks form

Chile’s only win in the group stage was against Bolivia and it is lacking the kind of form that inspired its back-to-back championship wins in 2015 and ’16. Sanchez missed Chile’s group-stage matches and his absence affected the team’s production.

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Coach Martín Lasarte will decide whether 32-year-old Sanchez will start against Brazil or come off the bench.

“To play against the host is always difficult, but Brazil is also the team that is possibly in best shape,” Lasarte said. “We have to play our best match so far. That is always possible. We will try to annul their virtues and explore their flaws.”

Also on Friday, 2019 runner-up Peru will take on Paraguay at the Olimpico Stadium in Goiania. The winner will face Brazil or Chile in the semifinals in Rio.

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