RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — When Lucas Paquetá left the pitch in ache on the finish of Brazil’s 1-0 win over Peru at a Copa America semifinal on Monday, there was concern amongst teammates whether or not he would play in Saturday’s closing. Few at the beginning of the match would have thought that the 23-year-old would develop into such a key Brazilian participant.
Midfielder Paquetá had a lower on his left leg, however Brazil’s medical officers say he might be match for the decider on the Maracana Stadium, the identical area the place he first appeared as a Flamengo winger in 2016. Brazil’s opponent within the closing might be recognized on Tuesday when Argentina and Colombia meet.
Paquetá scored the winners in opposition to Chile and Peru within the knockout stage, performed in 5 out of six matches and have become a frontrunner to take a place that after belonged to Philippe Coutinho.
Nonetheless evolving as a passer and a finisher, Paquetá additionally appears to have established a partnership with Neymar — on the pitch and in humorous dances to have fun the targets they rating for Brazil.
“Paquetá is a superb participant, he’s rising in each match for the nationwide staff. He had a fantastic season at Lyon and he’s exhibiting he generally is a crucial participant for us,” Neymar mentioned. “I’m joyful for the match he performed, he was nice. It’s all the time good to search out nice gamers on the Selecao.”
The Brazilian was first known as up by Tite after the 2018 World Cup, when he was at Flamengo. The coach continued to convey him to the Selecao regardless of unconvincing performances for AC Milan. Final yr, Paquetá moved to Lyon and had a great first season, with 10 targets and 6 assists in 34 matches.
The purple card to Gabriel Jesus in the course of the quarterfinals in opposition to Chile allowed Tite to start out with Paquetá within the semifinal — he had entered the earlier sport in its place.
One in every of Tite’s assistants, former Brazil midfielder César Sampaio, mentioned just lately that Paquetá has given “optimistic surprises” throughout his time at Copa America.
“We did not know he may carry out in some features, and he’s doing them very nicely,” Sampaio mentioned. “This athlete can do his half, which is extra in transitions and expertise, however he additionally additionally contributes defensively. He’s very productive.”
As a winger, Paquetá was additionally in Brazil’s squad that received Copa America in 2019. However he solely performed for a couple of minutes within the quarterfinal in opposition to Paraguay.
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