Organisers of the Brazil and Argentina’s Australian tour are “disappointed” that rested superstar Neymar won’t be part of the games after receiving assurances he’d play.
Brazil and Argentina both confirmed their squads on Friday for the matches at the MCG, with the two South American nations doing battle on Friday 9 June with the game already sold-out.
The five-time World Cup winners will then play the Socceroos at the MCG on Tuesday 13 June.
Neymar has been granted rest from international duties after a hectic 2016-17 season for both club and country, leaving the organisers, TEG and TLA Worldwide, livid with the situation.
Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour event organisers Geoff Jones from TEG and Bart Campbell from TLA Worldwide said in a statement: “We are disappointed that Neymar Jr will not be playing, as we have had assurances and undertakings that both teams would be bringing their best available squads.
“Despite this omission there is still a plethora of international stars proudly representing their national teams in one of the oldest and most prestigious football derbies in the world and we hope that the fans will enjoy the once-in-a-generation encounter at the MCG."
Among the other big names absent for Brazil are Real Madrid pair Marcelo and Casemiro and Juventus full-back Dani Alves.
Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus and Chelsea’s David Luiz and Willian will all make the trip.
There have been reports the omissions will lead to Brazil missing out on up to $2 million in appearance fees, with the State Government safeguarding itself.
Brazil coach Tite defended his decision to rest Neymar.
“I do what is best for the Brazil team,” Tite said. “We need to preserve the players who are at the end of the European season.”
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is included for Argentina, along with Juventus duo Pablo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain, while Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero is the notable omission in a new-look squad.
“We are delighted to confirm that Lionel Messi, one of the greatest ever footballers, will be returning to MCG to headline one of the iconic world sporting rivalries when Argentina takes on Brazil,” the organisers added.
“Messi heads some of the best talent of world football coming to Melbourne from both Argentina and Brazil. Both squad announcements feature players who have won Continental, Domestic Cup and League campaigns all over the world.”
Brazil squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Diego Alves (Valencia), Weverton (Atletico Paranaense), Ederson (Benfica)
Defenders: Alex Sandro (Juventus), David Luiz (Chelsea), Fagner (Corinthians), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Gil (Shandong Luneng), Jemerson (Monaco), Rafinha (Bayern Munich), Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain)
Midfielders: Fernandinho (Manchester City), Giuliano (Zenit), Lucas Lima (Santos), Paulinho (Guangzhou Evergrande), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Renato Augusto (Beijing Gouan), Rodriguinho (Corinthians), Willian (Chelsea)
Forwards: Diego Souza (Sport), Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Argentina squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Nahuel Guzman (Tigres), Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Geronimo Rulli (Real Sociedad)
Defenders: Emanuel Mammana (Lyon), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Ever Banega (Inter), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United), Leandro Paredes (Roma), Guido Rodriguez (Tijuana), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica)
Forwards: Joaquin Correa (Sevilla), Angel Di Maria (PSG), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Alejandro Gomez (Atalanta), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Mauco Icardi (Inter), Lionel Messi (Barcelona)