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Douglas Costa says Russia friendly can boost Brazil’s World Cup preparations

Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium will stage the World Cup final on July 15.

Brazil must make the most of their trip to Moscow so they can hit the ground running when they return to Russia for the World Cup, according to winger Douglas Costa.

The South Americans take on the 2018 hosts at the Luzhniki Stadium on Friday night, a venue which will stage the final of the showpiece tournament on July 15.

Head coach Tite was already without star man Neymar as he recovers from a foot injury.

Filipe Luis suffered a broken leg when in action for Atletico Madrid during their Europa League win over Lokomotiv Moscow, and his replacement Alex Sandro, the Juve defender, has now been forced out of contention after picking up a muscle problem during the pre-match build-up.

Despite the enforced squad changes, Costa believes those players in the group for the friendlies, which will also see a trip to Berlin against world champions Germany, need to take on board as much as they can.

“The most important thing is to feel the environment of the World Cup, that is what we have all come here to do,” Costa said.

Costa, on loan at Serie A leaders Juventus from Bayern Munich, could be drafted into the starting XI in place of Neymar, whose recovery may well see the Paris Saint Germain forward face a race against time to be fully fit for Brazil’s World Cup Group E opener against Switzerland in Rostov on June 17.

“Tite has not told us yet who will play, but we have lots of big names to replace Neymar, and he (coach) will know the best player to do the job,” Costa said at a press conference.

“It is a difficult task (to replace Neymar), but I prefer to think about the whole group.

“However, it will not have a huge effect because others will have the opportunity to play an important role.

“We have two big tests (in these friendly matches).”

Russia head coach Stanislav Cherchesov also has his own injury problems to contend with.

Zenit Saint Petersburg striker Alexander Kokorin suffered knee ligament damage while playing in the Europa League, while defenders Georgi Dzhikiya, Viktor Vasin and Mario Fernandes are also sidelined.

Russia’s scheduled training session in Khimki on Wednesday was late following a visit from doping control.

Cherchesov, though, is not about to dwell on the unexpected change in routine. “It is just the way it is, and all national teams have this,” he said at a press conference.

“The players did not feel like getting up at 6:30am, but the (doping) officer did his job.

“The officer checked everything, ate well and we gave samples – may God grant him good health.”

Russia will tackle France in Saint Petersburg next week and Cherchesov is hoping to keep the performances on course for the summer.

“The matches against Argentina and Spain moved us further in all respects,” he said.

“Brazil are a five-times world champion and play great football, but nevertheless, we would like to stop them.”

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