Brazil's player Dani Alves (C) controls a ball during a team training session in Santiago, October 5, 2015, ahead of their 2018 World Cup qualifying match against Chile this Thursday. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
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Five of South America's leading players will be missing when the continent's 2018 World Cup qualifiers kick off this week.Argentina's Lionel Messi and Colombia's James Rodriguez are injured, while Brazil's Neymar and Uruguay's Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are suspended.Messi injured his knee the previous weekend playing for Barca and was told he would be out for up to eight weeks and could miss four of the 2014 World Cup runners-up's matches in the marathon 18-round group.Neymar was sent off in a group match defeat to Colombia and banned for four matches after insulting Chilean referee Enrique Osses.Suarez is still serving a nine-match FIFA ban for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 Finals in Brazil.
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