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World Cup Preview – Brazil (17/32)

Brazil

CONMEBOL

Group E

Best WC Performance: Winners x 5 – 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002

Current World Ranking: 2 

History

Where to start? The most successful World Cup side of all time, with five wins, two runners up and two 3rd place finishes, and the only country to feature in every single tournament.

From the kit to the crowd to the players, Brazil in many ways are the defining image of a World Cup.

Their first World Cup trophy came in 1958, with Pele the breakthrough star of the tournament at just 17 years old. Their second came at the next tournament in 1962, this time without their talisman Pele for most of the matches, as he was injured in the second group game.


Mexico 1970 was the next win, arguably the classic World Cup performance and perhaps the best international side in history.

A team with Pele, Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho, Rivellino and more dominated a tournament which provided the ultimate World Cup goal, certainly the best ever in a Final, when the captain Alberto finished off the most sublime team move you’ll see.

Two more tournament wins followed in 1994 and 2002, defined by the striking stars Romario and Ronaldo, respectively.

Simply put, when it comes to the World Cup, Brazil cannot be matched.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Alisson (Roma), Ederson (Manchester City), Cassio (Corinthians).

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).

Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Paulinho (Barcelona), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona), Willian (Chelsea), Douglas Costa (Juventus).

Forwards: Neymar Jr (Paris St-Germain), Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool).

Group Fixtures

  1. Vs Switzerland 19:00, 17.06.18                                  Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don
  2. Vs Costa Rica 13:00, 22.06.18                                  Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg
  3. Vs Serbia 19:00, 27.06.18                                  Otkrytiye Arena, Moscow

Manager – Tite

What a transformation Tite has brought to Brazil. Prior to his arrival, there were serious concerns over the state of Brazilian football, after the humiliating defeat to Germany in the previous World Cup and a poor start to qualifying for this one.

Since then, his side have only been defeated twice, and only once competitively, in the Copa America.

Tite’s managerial career had been, to date, solid if unspectacular, taking in stints at some of the Brazilian league stalwarts, including Corinthians, Gremio and Internacional.

His most successful reign was at Corinthians, collecting two league titles, a Copa Libertadores and a World Club Cup win in his time there, alongside other honours.

Qualification

About as straightforward a qualifying campaign as could be hoped for.

Brazil only suffered one defeat, at the hands of Chile in their opening game of qualifying. This was under previous manager Dunga, all the way back in 2015.

From then on there was a massive improvement, and particularly once new manager Tite took charge. They went undefeated for the 17 remaining games of the qualifying campaign, with convincing wins over nearest competitors Uruguay, and the old enemy Argentina.

The first team to qualify for this year’s World Cup, as early as March 2017, top spot in the CONMEBOL group was confirmed with three games to spare.

Captain – TBC

Unusually, Brazil have not yet made a clear call on who will captain them at the World Cup. Each of Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Marcelo and Gabriel Jesus have worn the armband previously, and there’s always a chance that Neymar could be given the honour, as the talisman of the team.


We’ll have to wait and see when the tournament gets closer.

Danger man – Neymar

It really can only be one man: the world’s most expensive player, Neymar.

Having left the comfort of MSN at Barcelona, to become the main dog at PSG (smashing the world record transfer fee in the process), Neymar has had a superb season.

28 goals in 30 games this campaign puts him in a similar bracket to the very best.

This could well be his tournament – not quite yet in his stride at the last World Cup – a commanding performance this time round would see his stock rise to unimaginable levels.

With Messi and Ronaldo surely looking to call it quits before the next World Cup, this is Neymar’s chance to stake his claim as their heir.

Young Player – Gabriel Jesus

Though it feels like he’s been terrorising defences in the Premier League for years now, Gabriel Jesus is still only 21.

If there is to be one player from this side who could really break through to that next level and have a stormer of a World Cup, it’s Jesus.

A decent, though not spectacular domestic campaign will have left Jesus wanting to show off his wares at the highest level.

Worth a cheeky flutter to pick up the Golden boot? I’d say so, considering you can get him at 20/1; Brazil are likely to go deep into the tournament, and he’ll be relying on service from the likes of Neymar and Coutinho. Could be a great under-the-radar pick.

Premier League Players

Gone are the days when the World Cup was a showcase for the next big players you’d not yet seen. Of the current fifteen Brazilian certainties, it’s only really Renato Augusto, who plies his trade in China, that European fans won’t be familiar with.

Six Premier League players make the cut – Willian of Chelsea, Firmino from Liverpool, and Jesus, Fernandinho, Ederson and Danilo, each from champions Man City.

All can expect some game time, but it’s likely only Jesus who will start the first Group game. Brazil’s centre-forward options are somewhat limited, with Tite recently having to rely on players you’d long forgotten – like the 34-year-old Fred – as backup.


There are three ex-Premier League players in the squad too – Phillipe Coutinho, Paulinho and Filipe Luis. Each will be remembered in different ways by Premier League fans, but all currently ply their trade in Spain

Paulinho, in spite of his torrid time at Spurs and then apparent transfer into pasture in China, has had a phenomenal season for Barca, and is a key player for the national side too.

Prediction

Along with Germany, Brazil go into the tournament as favourites. A comfortable qualification campaign saw them top the CONMEBOL group, with a big ten-point gap to second placed Uruguay.

The Seleção will be relatively happy with their group stage draw too. Any of the three of Serbia, Costa Rica or Switzerland are capable of an upset on the day, but on paper this is one of the easiest groups for any of the top seeds. They can expect a reasonably rough ride in the first game against Switzerland, but it would be something of a shock if Brazil even dropped a point in this group.

If they top group E, Brazil will likely face a second round clash against South Korea, Mexico or Sweden (unless the unthinkable happens and Germany only finish second in that group) which should be an simple enough tie to see them progress.

Written by Jackson Rawlings. 

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Premier League Table

# Team MP W D L P
1 Manchester City 32 23 5 4 74
2 Manchester United 32 19 9 4 66
3 Leicester City 31 17 5 9 56
4 Chelsea 32 15 10 7 55
5 West Ham United 32 16 7 9 55
6 Liverpool 32 15 8 9 53
7 Tottenham Hotspur 32 14 8 10 50
8 Everton 31 14 7 10 49
9 Arsenal 32 13 7 12 46
10 Leeds United 32 14 4 14 46
11 Aston Villa 30 13 5 12 44
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers 32 11 8 13 41
13 Crystal Palace 31 10 8 13 38
14 Southampton 31 10 6 15 36
15 Newcastle United 32 9 8 15 35
16 Brighton & Hov… 32 7 13 12 34
17 Burnley 32 8 9 15 33
18 Fulham 33 5 12 16 27
19 West Bromwich Albion 31 5 9 17 24
20 Sheffield United 32 4 2 26 14

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