Brazil's early qualification for this year's World Cup does not mean the team will be less motivated for upcoming fixtures against Ecuador and Paraguay, midfielder Casemiro has said.
Brazil, leaders of the 10-team South American zone standings, will meet Ecuador in Quito on Thursday and Paraguay in Belo Horizonte five days later in the penultimate doubleheader of qualifiers. "Many believe that we will go into the match against Ecuador with a relaxed attitude, but our team is not like that," Casemiro said on Tuesday. "We know that it's going to be demanding and that we're going to have to work hard."
Ecuador are third in the group and can guarantee a place in football's showpiece tournament with victories against Brazil and Peru in the next week, Xinhua reports. "We know that Ecuador are doing very well. They are third and close to qualifying for the World Cup. They are a highly respected team. We know how difficult it is to play here, even more so because they are trying to qualify."
Casemiro also spoke of the rapid development of his Real Madrid teammate, Vinicius Jr, who is set to assume a key role in the Brazil team in the absence of injured star Neymar.
After an inauspicious start to his career in Spain, Vinicius has scored 15 goals in 30 matches across all competitions for Real Madrid this season.
"Vinicius's adaptation to the national team is going to be important, just as it has been for him at Real Madrid. It is a privilege to be playing alongside him. I have seen him grow after his period of adaptation and learning."