Neymar & Lucas Lima
Neymar (left) is gearing up for Brazil's World Cup qualifier with Argentina in Buenos AiresReuters

Brazil boss Dunga believes Neymar is currently a better player than his Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi and World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo. Neymar, 23, has scored 13 goals in 14 games for Barcelona this season, including five in his last three matches across all competitions.

Dunga said Neymar's consistency in front of goal made him worthy of comparison with Messi, pointing out that the Brazil captain had stepped up to the plate for his club in the absence of the injured Argentina star.

"If we look at the ranking by numbers and statistics, Neymar is superior right now," Dunga was quoted as saying by ESPN ahead of Brazil's World Cup qualifier against Argentina in Buenos Aires on 12 November. "Neymar has improved consistently since he arrived at Barcelona [in 2013]. He has done all that was expected of him with Messi out. He's in great form."

'No favourites in Argentina match'

Neymar is available to lead Brazil against arch rivals Argentina after serving a four-match ban for violent conduct during a Copa America defeat against Colombia in June. The former Santos star's return is a fillip for the five-time World Cup winners, who are fifth in the Conmebol table following a loss against Chile and a win over Venezuela in their opening two matches.

Dunga
Dunga replaced Luiz Felipe Scolari as Brazil coach in July 2014Reuters

But the Buenos Aires clash is arguably of greater significance to Argentina, who are seventh in the table after a draw and a defeat in their two fixtures to date. Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez are all out injured for the Albiceleste, but Dunga waved away suggestions that their absences made Brazil favourites.

"They will have players out injured but it is still Argentina," he said. "You lose a talented player but you get one that is maybe more focused, with more power and speed, and they can create problems. It's Argentina, their players all play at the highest level in Europe.

"We play Argentina at their home, they have great players, they were runners-up in the World Cup, they have 10 years' worth of work there. That shows how difficult this will be," the 1994 World Cup winner said.

"We didn't have Neymar for our first matches and no one spoke about our rivals having an advantage over us. There is no favouritism. All of us have deep benches," he stressed.

The top four sides in the Conmebol table qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with the fifth-placed team heading into a play-off.