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Soccer-Neymar's absence need not be decisive for Brazil

Reuters

SAO PAULO, July 5 (Reuters) - Neymar has long been the first name on Luiz Felipe Scolari's team sheet but Brazil have done fine without him, winning five of the six games he has missed over the last four years.

Neymar was ruled out of the rest of the World Cup after suffering a back injury during Friday's 2-1 quarter-final win over Colombia and Brazil is still coming to terms with the news.

The facts, however, suggest his absence need not be decisive for the host nation.

"Since the defeat to the Netherlands in Port Elizabeth in the South Africa World Cup, Brazil have played 60 games," ESPN sports statistician Paulo Vinicius Coelho said on Saturday.

"Neymar missed just six. In those games, Brazil won five times and lost one,"

In the six matches he missed, Brazil lost to France in February 2011 and beat Iran, Ukraine, Gabon, Egypt and Denmark.

Unfortunately for Brazil, Neymar's statistics on the pitch are also pretty impressive.

He made his debut as a teenager against the United States in August 2010 and scored his first international goal after just 28 minutes. He has since netted 35 times in 54 games, more than anyone else in the squad.

Scolari selected Neymar for every one of the 27 matches he has coached since returning to manage Brazil for a second time in 2012 but he will have to do without him as he bids to lead his country to a sixth World Cup.

(Reporting by Andrew Downie, editing by Ed Osmond)

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