BRAZIL star Willian declared that his team had plenty of x-factor even without megastar Neymar, as they intensified preparations for Friday night’s blockbuster with Argentina.
The Chelsea star is among a multimillion-dollar batch of world stars making up the no.1 ranked team in the world, including Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, Chelsea defender David Luis, PSG defender Thiago Silva and rising Manchester City star Gabriel Jesus.
While China-based teammate, defender Gil hosed down any excitement about facing Lionel Messi, Willian conceded that the Argentina wizard would be paid special attention at the MCG.
Willian, 28, declared that there were no friendlies against arch enemy Argentina, whose 2018 World Cup hopes hang by a thread.
“To miss Neymar in this game is difficult because we know the quality he has for us, but I think we have enough players to make the difference,’’ Willian said.
“We have quality players to play even without Neymar, but the other players are good enough to be part of the national team and they will show it.
“We have a great team and we have to show that on Friday.
“When Brazil and Argentina play it doesn’t matter who is on the field, it’s always a good game.
“Both teams have good players. We have to take care of Messi every moment because he is different player.’’
Willian, with seven goals in 45 internationals, was one of Brazil’s most experienced players but said he wasn’t taking a World Cup spot for granted.
“I have to fight for my spot, I have to keep playing well at Chelsea. Whether I go to Russia or not depends on what happens day by day at my club.
“I have a good chance of going to the World Cup, but I’m no guarantee. You have to prove every game that you deserve your spot in the team for the World Cup.
“Every time I play for the national team, I do my best, I have to prove why I’m here and Friday will be no different.
“We’ve already qualified for the World Cup, which was really important moment for us.
“But this game is important for us to continue the good job we are doing. We’re playing to win (on Friday), we’ll do our best.
“We feel we can win both games.’’
Corinthians attacker Rodriguinho Marinho, one of the stars of their domestic competition, fondly recalled the 2004 Copa America final as his greatest memory between the rivals.
“The Copa America final when Adriano scored in the last minute — 2004 — is fresh in my mind. I was at home watching with my friends, I still remember,’’ he said.