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Brazil vs Bolivia starting XI: will Neymar play for Brazil?

Interim head coach Fernando Diniz has big decisions to make ahead of his side’s World Cup qualifier at Estádio Olímpico do Pará.

Is Neymar fit to feature for Brazil?

Brazil will hope to get their World Cup qualification campaign off to a winning start when they take on Bolivia on Friday evening.

The Seleção suffered a chastening quarter-final exit to Croatia in the 2022 World Cup, sparking a period of reflection for the national team. Fluminense head coach Fernando Diniz has taken over the team on an interim basis and will lead Brail for the first time at Estádio Olímpico do Pará in Belem.

The caretaker boss has a number of tough decisions to make for his first Brazil starting XI, not helped by some injuries sustained by key players.

Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr was not available for selection after picking up a muscular injury against Celta Vigo. His Madrid teammate Eder Militao is also out of contention due to injury.

Vinicius se sienta en el césped de Balaídos y pide la sustitución.
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Vinicius Jr could miss up to six weeks due to injury. Juan Manuel Serrano ArceGetty Images

However Diniz was able to select Neymar, who made the switch to Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal last month but is yet to feature for his new team. The 31-year-old has not played since sustaining an ankle injury back in February.

Brazil vs Bolivia line up prediction

Diniz has built an impressive reputation during more than a decade as a coach in Brazil and has been compared to Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola for his possession-heavy style of play. He tends to favour a fluid 4-2-3-1 with Fluminense and will likely try to bring a similar system to the national team set up.

Here’s how we think the two sides will line up...

Brazil: Ederson - Danilo, Marquinho, Gabriel Magalhães, Renan Lodi - Bruno Guimarães, Casemiro - Rodrygo Goes, Neymar, Raphinha - Gabriel Jesus

Bolivia: Viscarra - Suarez, Justino, Roca - Media, Cuellar, Usino, Abrego, Terceros - Moreno, Arrascaita

Neymar is level with Brazilian legend Pele at the top of the nation’s all-time scoring charts and needs just one more goal to hold the record outright. However his inclusion in this squad was controversial given that he has not yet been fit enough to feature for Al-Hilal.

“I don’t know why he was called up, he’s injured,” Al-Hilal head coach Jorge Jesús said recently. “Maybe they force him to go with Brazil.”