Vinicius Junior out of Brazil’s World Cup qualifying matches, Raphinha in

Barcelona winger Raphinha got a call-up from the Brazilian national team Tuesday to replace injured Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior as Brazil launch their qualifying campaign for the 2026 World Cup, officials said Tuesday.

Vinicius Junior(REUTERS)

Vinicius, who limped off early in Madrid’s 1-0 La Liga win against Celta Vigo on Friday, will reportedly be out for up to six weeks with a hamstring injury, taking him out of Brazil’s qualifiers against Bolivia and Peru on September 8 and 12, respectively.

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said coach Fernando Diniz had tapped Raphinha to replace the injured 23-year-old star.

Raphinha, 26, previously played for the “Selecao” at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where the five-time champions were eliminated by Croatia in the quarter-finals.

He has had a complicated start to the season at Barcelona, getting sent off with a red card during their league debut against Getafe and missing the next two matches.

Vinicius’s absence will leave 31-year-old Neymar, who arrived in Saudi Arabia this month to start a lucrative contract with Al-Hilal, to lead the attack as Brazil start their quest for a long-awaited sixth World Cup title.

However, the coach of his new club, Portugal’s Jorge Jesus, recently raised doubts over Neymar’s fitness for national team duty, as well, saying he had a minor injury.

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