Sanchez is the key, says Brazilian star

Brazil's Neymar leaps in the air to celebrate after scoring in the World Cup
Brazil's Neymar leaps in the air to celebrate after scoring in the World Cup
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Friend-turned-foe Alexis Sanchez is the biggest obstacle between Brazil and a place in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, according to Barcelona star Neymar.

The Brazilian has been arguably the player of the tournament so far and, speaking in the build up to the hosts’ clash with Chile tonight (5pm) Neymar, who plays with Sanchez at Barcelona, said: “I always speak to Alexis on the phone.

“Now we are going to come up against each other.

“Alexis is a star. I admire him a lot. He is a great player and we will need to be careful with him. We can’t leave him any space.”

Fellow Barcelona star Dani Alves added: “Alexis Sanchez is one of their most dangerous players. Of course Chile have others but Alexis makes the difference.

“But we have been making strides ever since the first game. Now we have made it to the last 16 with confidence and that boosts our chances.

“Since the first game we have improved as we hoped to do.”

Uruguay - without, of course, Luis Suarez - face Columbia in their own Round of 16 game at 9pm UK time.

Suarez was handed a nine-game international ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay’s group stage 1-0 win over Italy on Tuesday.

But the Liverpool star received unlikely support from Diego Maradona, who described the FIFA sanction as “shameful”.