Neymar described Casemiro as the "best defensive midfielder in the world" as the Brazil superstar watched his team book their place in the World Cup last 16 from his hotel room.
Brazil defeated Switzerland 1-0 at Stadium 974 on Monday for their second straight win in Qatar to join France, and later Portugal, in the knockout stages.
For a team spoilt with attacking talent, it was an unlikely matchwinner who proved decisive as Casemiro smashed home a fine finish in the 83rd minute.
Neymar was the notable absence from the Brazil team after the Paris Saint-Germain forward injured his ankle during the opening 2-0 win over Serbia which ruled him out for the rest of the group stage.
He was the only player who did not go to Stadium 974 for the team’s second match in Qatar. Danilo, who also missed the game because of an ankle injury, accompanied the rest of the squad to the stadium.
Forward Vinicius Junior said Neymar also had a fever on Monday, though the team had not officially said anything about it.
“He was sad he couldn’t come to the game,” Vinicius said. “He wasn’t feeling well. Not only because of the foot, but also because he had a little bit of a fever. We are hoping that he can recover as soon as possible.”
Neymar posted an Instagram story showing him watching the match on television while undergoing treatment on his foot.
“Casemiro has been the best defensive midfielder in the world for a long time,” Neymar wrote on Twitter.
Brazil v Switzerland player ratings
Brazil coach Tite used midfielder Fred as Neymar’s replacement against Switzerland, while Eder Militao came in for Danilo in the right-back position.
The right ankle also kept Neymar from playing in the 2019 Copa América in Brazil. Five years earlier, he was taken out of the World Cup in Brazil after hurting his back in the quarter-finals against Colombia.
Neymar, trying to win his first major title with Brazil, is making his third World Cup appearance. He is two goals shy of Pelé’s all-time record of 77 with the national team.
Brazil’s last group match is against Cameroon on Friday.