Brazil goalkeeper Cesar practising normally
Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar began practising normally again on Thursday, indicating he is over a back injury and ready for the World Cup.
Julio Cesar had not trained at full strength since getting hurt in a warmup game against Zimbabwe on June 2, when he fell awkwardly while trying to reach for a ball and was substituted midway through the first half.
The goalkeeper had been limited in practice since, and only returned to the goal Thursday to participate in all drills without any apparent problems. He made several tough saves and looked in top form.
Brazil's doctors said he will be fit for Brazil's opener against North Korea on June 15, and his teammates are not concerned either.
"He practised normally with the rest of the players, everything was normal," Brazil reserve right back Daniel Alves said. "I don't think there will be any problems for him to be playing in the opener."
Although doctors had been downplaying the lower back injury, it kept Julio Cesar even from travelling to the team's warmup against Tanzania on Monday, and he had been undergoing intensive physiotherapy treatment after missing practice for two straight days.
Brazil's morning practice was entirely closed to the media, but a few images from local media showed Julio Cesar at times putting his hands in his lower back in apparent pain.
"Julio Cesar is one of the best in the world, but we don't have to be worried because we have two other great goalkeepers in our group," Daniel Alves said. "Both Gomes and Doni are excellent professionals and can replace Julio at the same level if needed."
The match against Tanzania marked the first time Julio Cesar missed an international game in two years. He had played 26 consecutive matches for Brazil.
The goalkeeper is coming off his best season with Inter Milan, helping the Italian club win the Champions League, the Italian league and the Italian Cup.
Dunga used the closed session to work on the positioning of the defence, with the starters playing against the second-stringers. The afternoon practice was more focused on physical conditioning and tactical drills.
It was the last time Brazil practised twice in a day before the opener, and Dunga said the team will be reducing the number of practices gradually as the tournament approaches.
The World Cup begins Friday with South Africa facing Mexico at Soccer City stadium, but Brazil won't make its Group G debut until Tuesday. The five-time champion then will face the Ivory Coast on June 20 and Portugal on June 25.
With five days left until the first match, the Brazilians are just now starting to find out more about the North Koreans.
"We have watched some of their friendlies and we know a lot more now than we did before," Brazil midfielder Elano said.
Brazil is trying to win its sixth world title. It lost to France in the quarter-finals of the 2006 tournament in Germany.