Following on from last week’s look at Germany’s approach to this summer’s World Cup, we will now be taking a look at one of the tournament’s other favourites – South American outfit Brazil.
The five-time world champions disappointed while hosting the previous tournament in 2014, crashing out to Germany in the semi-finals. The disappointment didn’t necessarily stem from them “only” reaching the semis of course – though most were expecting them to win – but that disappointment came largely from the manner of their exit. That was a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of eventual winners Germany, and for that to occur on Brazilian soil was almost unthinkable.
Luiz Felipe Scolari departed as coach soon after, being replaced by legendary defender Dunga in the dugout. This was Dunga’s second spell in charge, having previously left the post after the team exited the 2010 World Cup at the quarter-final stage, losing 2-1 to the Netherlands.
Dunga’s second reign lasted just a shade under two years, however – and he was replaced in the hotseat by Adenor Leonardo Bacchi (more commonly known as Tite) in June 2016. Tite guided the Canarinho to Russia by way of winning the CONMEBOL qualification league, holding an impressive 10 point lead over second-placed Uruguay. The aim this summer, then, is to capitalise on that momentum and try to lift their first World Cup title since 2002.
If they are to do that, consistency appears to be top of Tite’s agenda. He has essentially chosen his starting XI already, sticking with largely the same group of players throughout the qualification process to great success. They were the first team aside from hosts Russia to secure their place at the tournament.
Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson Moraes is one of two potential number ones for the squad, with Roma’s Alisson Becker his primary contender (and arguably the favourite). While Alisson seems set to be first choice, Ederson’s form in the Premier League has netted him a great tally of 91 points compared to Alisson’s 81, so that is a tight call.
As for the outfield players, Neymar seems a sure bet despite picking up a fairly serious injury recently. He broke his foot at the end of February and required surgery, but he hopes to be training again by mid-May with the aim of being fit for the showcase tournament. His PSG team-mates Dani Alves, Thiago Silva and Marquinhos also look sure-fire bets to be on the plane after great respective seasons.
The Premier League contingent likely won’t stop at the aforementioned Ederson either, with Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino and Chelsea’s Willian both looking good to feature, as will Barcelona’s former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho. Man City pair Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus are also just about assured a place in the squad.
That is just a taster of what the Brazilians have to offer once the action kicks off this summer, and they will surely be fancying their chances, particularly in the earlier stages of the competition. Their opening game against Switzerland could prove the toughest test of the group stages but even that is a game they will be expecting to win, with opposition from Costa Rica and Serbia still to come. The Serbians always pose a threat as well, but Brazil’s confidence in what seems to be a rather tasty squad will surely guide them through to the last 16 without too much trouble (at least, one would expect).
That could set up a nice tie in the first knockout round, likely against either Sweden or Mexico. That is, unless champions Germany slip up and wind up finishing second in their group, and then finally a chance to lay to rest the ghost of Belo Horizonte 2014 could present itself early…..
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