World Cup 2018 is knocking the doors and the 32 participating nations are now highly enthusiastic and fully focused upon completion of club football. They are proud to represent their countries in such a prestigious event and a few of them are thriving to lift the glorious trophy to justice the ‘favourites’ tag. Brazil are undoubtedly one of them.
Brazil, the record five times World Cup winners, suffered a disastrous 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semifinal during the previous edition of the competition hosted by themselves. They went through a crisis following such a humiliation but the emergence of few top-notch resources has re-established the Selecao as one of the prime title contenders under Tite who has done an admirable job since replacing Dunga as their manager a couple of years back.
Nickname(s): Selecao (The Squad)
Last Qualified: 2014
Result in 2014: Fourth Place
Qualified From: CONMEBOL
World Cup Appearances: 22 Times
Best World Cup Finals Result: Champions (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
The Final Squad:
DEFENDERS: Danilo (Manchester City), Fagner (Corinthians), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Thiago Silva, Marquinhos (both Paris St-Germain), Miranda (Inter Milan) Pedro Geromel (Gremio).
FORWARDS: Neymar Jr (Paris St-Germain), Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool).
The ‘Poster Boy’ of Brazil football is one of the greatest of footballers of the current generation who has not only excelled in club football but also delivered whenever represented his nation. His injury in the previous term proved to be a massive setback prior to the Germany game and a metatarsal injury at PSG has kept him sidelined for months. Neymar, however, is back in training and likely to be involved in the warm-up fixtures. It is to be seen now how quickly he recovers and produce his on-field mastery throughout the competition.
2) Philippe Coutinho
The Brazilian became a superstar during his Liverpool days in past four years but the recent ‘forced’ move to Barcelona in winter led to heavy criticisms. However, the midfield attacker settled in perfectly at Nou Camp and exhibited his excellence there as well. His creative aspect, vision, the range of passing and shooting will guide the Selecao to clinch the close encounters en route to contest for the title.
3) Gabriel Jesus
Despite Roberto Firmino’s career-best campaign at Liverpool, Gabriel Jesus will be preferred as Tite’s ‘number 9’. The Manchester City striker has emerged as Pep Guardiola’s preferred option upfront and despite being 21 only, he has been awarded the captain’s armband for the Croatia friendly. Brazil lacked a proper goal-poacher last term but are well equipped this time and better prepared as well to reclaim the lost glory.
Brazil, however, have a star-studded squad and the majority of names those are traveling to Russia are well-famed and renowned stars of world football.
The appointment of Tite uplifted their game, saw them having an unbeaten streak and qualify for the World Cup 2018 with four rounds of fixtures to spare. A couple of friendlies in March resulted in wins over Russia and Germany which reflected their resurgence in world football. They are now preparing for evening’s Croatia fixture and are set to contest Austria next weekend as their final preparations.
Brazil have been drawn in Group E alongside Serbia, Switzerland, and Costa Rica. They will play Switzerland in their opening match on 17th of June, followed by Costa Rica and Serbia on 22nd and 27th June respectively.
Serbia, Costa Rica and Switzerland will have a close competition to make it to the next round, but the Selecao are expected to finish as group leaders and eventually reconquer the lost throne that they last won in 2002.
Norway is the only national football team in the world that has never lost to Brazil. (2 wins and 2 draws).