Neymar injury: Coutinho, Firmino and the Brazil stars ready to step up
Neymar's fractured metatarsal is expected to keep the world's most expensive player out for up to three months, something that will surely provide cause for concern for Brazil coach Tite with the World Cup on the horizon.
The Paris Saint-Germain attacker went down after an innocuous-looking incident with Marseille's Bouna Sarr during Sunday's 3-0 victory over their Ligue 1 rivals and is likely to miss the remainder of his club's season.
With Brazil's World Cup campaign set to begin on June 17, Neymar will not have long upon returning to get himself in top shape for that clash with Switzerland, and pre-tournament friendlies rarely require the intensity and focus of a contest at the finals.
There is no doubt Neymar is the Selecao's talisman and leader, but it is worth noting Tite has an impressive array of attackers ready to step up and be their hero should the main man not make it.
Roberto Firmino, Liverpool
Firmino is arguably in the form of his life this season with Liverpool, spearheading Jurgen Klopp's impressive attack and accumulating 22 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions. He may not be the out-and-out goal threat or tantalising dribbler Neymar is, but he strikes an effective balance between finisher and creator, having supplied six Premier League assists this term.
Bobby Firmino. Boss at no-look goals.pic.twitter.com/iLGmmSdaky-- Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 27, 2018
Gabriel Jesus, Manchester City
Still just 20 years old, Jesus is already a leading star for City. His recent return from a knee ligament injury means he should - barring any complications - be fit and firing by the time the World Cup comes around. His ability to play either out wide or through the middle will be a major asset to Tite should Neymar not be deemed ready for June 17.
Philippe Coutinho, Barcelona
Coutinho is having to adapt to a new style and position having left Liverpool for Barcelona, but there is no doubting his talent. Brilliant on the ball, capable of defence-splitting passes and able to occupy several different roles, Coutinho is one of the jewels in the crown for Brazil. If there is anyone who is capable of producing the unexpected in Neymar's absence, it is him.
Despite making just 14 starts for Chelsea in the Premier League this season, Willian has managed to score five and set up another six goals. His recent performances have also attracted rave reviews, catching the eye and notching against Hull City, Barcelona and Manchester United. But Willian does not just offer fancy footwork and goals, he works incredibly hard at both ends of the pitch and suits a number of different systems.
Douglas Costa, Juventus
Had he been from almost any other country other than Brazil, Juve's Costa would probably have twice as many as the 22 international caps he currently has. Nevertheless, the 27-year-old offers the team genuine width, dazzling feet and a wicked left-footed delivery. He can play on either flank and boasts similar flair to Neymar.