"The key player for Brazil" - Neymar snubs Real Madrid superstar Vinicius Jr when naming Selecao's most important Copa America player

Neymar thinks Vinicius might not be Brazil
Neymar thinks Vinicius might not be Brazil's key man at Copa America.

Neymar has hinted that he expects Rodrygo to outshine his Real Madrid teammate Vinicius Junior during Brazil's Copa America campaign. The Los Blancos duo will be vital for Selecao in the United States this summer.

The Barcelona legend focused on his nation's hopes of glory in the tournament. He talked up Rodrygo's importance while acknowledging Vinicius' influence in an interview with ESPN:

"Brazil's key player? For me, I think it's Rodrygo. Vini [Vinícius] will play everything he knows but I think Rodrygo is very different. He's a star and the no. 10 shirt will definitely bring him a lot of luck."

Rodrygo, 23, will don the No.10 shirt at Copa America as Neymar will miss the competition through injury. The Real Madrid attacker heads into the tournament after a superb season at club level, bagging 17 goals and nine assists in 51 games across competitions.

However, Vinicius, 23, is getting Ballon d'Or shouts after a stellar 2023-24 campaign. He registered 24 goals and 11 assists in 39 games across competitions, including a strike in the UEFA Champions League final.

Brazil endured a topsy-turvy period after their shock quarterfinal exit at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They sit sixth in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying table with just two wins in six games.

Rodrygo and Vinicius are expected to shine at Copa America alongside Real Madrid's new boy, Endrick. The 17-year-old Selecao sensation could be Dorival Junior's starting striker in the United States.

The nine-time Copa America winners start their campaign in Group D. They face Costa Rica (June 24), Paraguay (June 29), and Colombia (July 3).

Vinicius is one of three Real Madrid stars set to start Brazil's Copa America opener

The Real Madrid attacking duo are set to face Costa Rica.
The Real Madrid attacking duo are set to face Costa Rica.

Brazil will play Costa Rica at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, in their Copa America opener. Brazil heads into that game as favorites, and a strong Real Madrid contingent will be on display.

Brazilian outlet GE Globo reports that Vinicius, Rodrygo, and Eder Militao are all expected to start. The latter will likely start alongside PSG center-back Marquinhos in defense, while the other two will be on either flank.

Selecao's recent performances have been scrutinized, and their results have been less than impressive. They've lost seven and won just six of their last 16 international games.

The Madrid trio enjoyed memorable seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, although Militao missed most of it due to an ACL injury. They were part of a Los Blancos side that won the UEFA Champions League, the La Liga title, and the Supercopa de Espana.

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Edited by Matthew Guyett
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