Soccer

Brazil defensive midfielder Paulinho doubtful for Italy match

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The Canadian Press
6/20/2013 6:19:48 PM
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FORTALEZA, Brazil -- Brazil's doctor says it's too early to know if defensive midfielder Paulinho will recover from a left ankle sprain in time for the match against Italy at the Confederations Cup on Saturday.

Jose Luiz Runco said Thursday that although the injury is not serious, it could keep the player from being fully fit for the Group A match in Salvador.

Both teams have already secured a spot in the next round, but the match will decide the group winner and determine who gets to play World Cup Spain in the semifinals.

Because it has a better goal differential than Italy, Brazil can finish first in the group with a draw at the Arena Fonte Nova, meaning it will likely avoid Spain, who is leading Group B.

Italy lost star midfielder Andrea Pirlo to injury on Thursday.

Runco said defender David Luiz will undergo tests on his nose after he injured it in the team's 2-0 win over Mexico on Wednesday, but is expected to play against Italy regardless of the extent of the injury.

The Chelsea defender was hit in the face while going for a high ball in the first half of the match against Mexico. He had to stay out of the game for nearly 10 minutes as doctors worked to contain the bleeding.

"It was a bit swollen when he woke up, but even if the tests show that he has a broken nose, he will be able to play," Runco said.

Paulinho, who scored a goal in Brazil's 3-0 win over Japan in the opener, was also hurt in the game against Mexico in Fortaleza on Wednesday.

"The ankle is still hurting and swollen, but we don't need to have him undergo tests," Runco said. "We will monitor the injury and later on we will determine whether he can play on Saturday."

Runco dismissed any problems with Brazil star striker Neymar, who was limping after the Mexico game and showed up at the post-match press conference with ice wrapped around his right thigh.

"He got hit in the leg but it's nothing serious," he said. "He will be fine."

Neymar scored a goal in each of Brazil's first two matches.

Brazil assistant coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is likely to avoid using players who are not fully fit, hoping to have them ready for the semifinals.

"We've talked about the possibility of resting some players," said Parreira, who was Brazil's coach when it won its fourth World Cup title in 1994. "But we haven't made a decision yet, we will see closer to the match."

After Brazil's match on Wednesday, and before knowing that Brazil's spot in the semifinals was already secured, Scolari said that he would use the same 11 that started in the first two matches.

The match against Mexico marked the first time since 2007 that Brazil fielded the same 11 starters in three consecutive matches.

Brazil is a two-time defending champion at the Confederations Cup, but it hasn't won a significant tournament since the 2009 edition of the warm-up competition.

Paulinho  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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