Santiago, Oct 6 (IANS) Brazil full-back Dani Alves has denied claims that Chile are favourites for the teams’ opening 2018 World Cup qualifier here on Thursday.
Chile won the Copa America as tournament hosts in July while Brazil were eliminated from the tournament in the quarter-finals by Paraguay, Xinhua news agency reported.
Despite Chile’s superior recent form, Alves said both teams were evenly matched for the clash at Santiago’s Estadio Nacional.
“I don’t believe any team are favourites against Brazil, irrespective of how we have been playing,” Alves said upon his arrival in Santiago with fellow Brazil squad members on Monday.
“They could have a slight advantage due to the fact they are playing at home but I don’t think they are favourites.”
Alves was named by coach Dunga on Saturday to replace Bayern Munich’s Rafinha, who reportedly asked to be withdrawn due to a desire to play for Germany.
While Brazil will be without suspended captain Neymar and injured playmaker Philippe Coutinho for the match, Chile will be at full strength.
Jorge Sampaoli’s team will include Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, veteran midfielder Jorge Valdivia, Bayern Munich star Arturo Vidal and Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez.
“It’s a big test for us because they are playing as well as they ever have,” Alves said.
“It will be good to sample where we are at and how these qualifiers are going to be.”
Brazil will have little time to recover from Thursday’s match before their first home 2018 World Cup qualifier against Venezuela in Fortaleza next Tuesday (October 13).