Manuel Veth –
Brazil are ready for another deep surge for the World Cup as the Seleção attempt to secure their sixth crown. Manager Tite is tasked with serving up a stronger performance than Luiz Felipe Scolari, who failed to deliver the title in the last competition on home soil.
The team reached the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup and were seemingly on a charge to lift the Jules Rimet trophy at the Maracana in the final. However, Germany crushed their dreams and humiliated the Seleção, putting seven goals past them to dump them out in the last four.
Brazil replaced Scolari with Dunga after the World Cup failure. However, his reign lasted just two years due to underwhelming performances in the Copa America. The last of which saw the Seleção fail to emerge from the group stage.
Tite guided his side safely through the qualifying round, easing into the competition. As of March 23, Brazil are backed in the latest Betway betting odds at 5/1 to win the World Cup, although a lot will hinge on whether Neymar is 100% for the tournament. We’ll now break down the plethora of options Tite has available for a charge for the title in his 23-man squad.
Can Tite find the right mix in defence?
Starting right at the back, Brazil have an embarrassment of riches at the keeper position. Alisson is the man in possession of the number one jersey ahead of the tournament. He has established himself as one of the best keepers in the world due to the quality of his displays for Roma. The 25-year-old has been linked with a big-money move to Liverpool in the summer, although an impressive tournament could so see others interested. Manchester City’s Ederson is the back-up between the sticks. It’s fair to say Brazil are in fairly safe hands at the back.
Dani Alves, Marcelo, Danilo and Alex Sandro should take care of the full-back positions. Although all four seem to struggle with their defensive duties at time – there is class and experience there that almost every side in the competition would be clamouring for in those roles. The middle of the defence looks less secure as Thiago Silva and Marquinhos have been exposed in the past, and have not faced a great deal of talent in Ligue 1 this term.
Real Madrid found the net with ease in the Champions League, raising doubts about their ability to stop the most potent of attacks in Russia. Depth is also an issue as Miranda, David Luiz and Jemerson have their issues.
Casemiro has become a key cog for Madrid in La Liga and the Champions League. He and Fernandinho could be the saving grace in front of the backline, providing security and allowing their full-backs to kick on and become a threat in the final third. The defence is not flawless but it is good enough to make a deep run.
Attack – Everything depends on Neymar
Neymar is the main man and every eye in Brazil will be monitoring his recovery from foot surgery with baited breath. Paris Saint-Germain felt the impact of his absence in their Champions League exit and Tite will be hopeful that the forward is back and operating at the peak of his powers for the tournament. He could be the difference between winning the World Cup and another exit in the knockout rounds.
However, there is still enough quality to win the tournament even without the 26-year-old. Gabriel Jesus has been in form for City this term in the Premier League, notching eight goals. Although Mohamed Salah has taken the majority of the plaudits at Liverpool, Roberto Firmino has notched 14 goals thus far in the campaign. A potential three-man attack of Firmino, Jesus and Neymar would be the most potent in the tournament and would hand Tite the opportunity to outscore every team.
Philippe Coutinho, Willian, Fred and Paulinho will be vying to provide the ammunition for the forwards. Depending on the formation and the availability of Neymar, there could be two or three spots up for grabs. Whomever Tite selects, he will have a top-quality player in the position, although he will have to consider the make-up of the side. An imbalance could result in another hammering like the one Germany inflicted on the Selecao and a disappointing exit from the tournament. There’s talent aplenty for Tite but he has to ensure that he has the right formula for success.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth. Or contact him via email: [email protected]