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Brazil replaces injured Raphinha with David Neres for World Cup qualifying

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil winger Raphinha won’t play in the next two rounds of South American World Cup qualifying because of injury.

The Brazilian soccer confederation said Monday that David Neres will replace the Barcelona star in the national team squad for games against Venezuela on Oct. 12 and five days later at Uruguay.

Raphinha injured his right thigh in Barcelona’s 1-0 win at Sevilla in the Spanish league on Friday. Local media said the player is expected to recover within three weeks.

Benfica forward Neres will join Brazil for the first time since September 2019. A few months earlier, he was one of the team’s main players in the title-winning Copa America campaign, but hadn’t returned since.

Brazil and Argentina co-lead the South American World Cup qualifying with two wins in two matches in the round-robin competition.

The 2026 World Cup will be the first with a 48-team format. South America’s direct spots have grown from four to six, and the seventh place will go into an intercontinental playoff for another berth to play in the tournament in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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