The 'Tite era' has fully redefined Neymar's Brazil as they head into another Copa America. From the lows of getting humiliated 7-1 at home against the Germans at the 2014 World Cup, the Seleção are back amongst the big boys of world football again, having won Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics and then going on to take top honors at the 2019 Copa America.
With the 2021 edition of the South American footballing carnival that is the Copa America set to start on June 14th (IST), defending champions Brazil are still the favorites. Brazil were imperious in the 2019 edition ant went unbeaten throughout the tournament defeating Peru 3-1 in the final thanks to goals from Everton, Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison.
Brazil start off the tournament in Group B, alongside Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru. Brazil are set to face Ecuador and Paraguay in the upcoming World Cup qualifier matches, on June 5th and June 9th respectively, as they prepare for the most important tournament of 2021.
With an array of dizzying talent at his disposal, Tite has had to leave out several superstars from his latest squad, including Leeds United's Raphinha, Everton's Allan, Manchester City's Fernandinho, Real Madrid's Marcelo and Sevilla's Diego Carlos.
Brazil are the bookies favorites to win the tournament, having cemented their ranking at No.3 in the world as per the latest FIFA World rankings, behind only Belgium and world champions France.
The 2021 edition of the Copa is being held amidst much controversy, with the host country changed to Brazil from Argentina and Colombia, owing to Covid concerns.
First, Colombia pulled out as hosts due to civil unrest in the country. Then CONMEBOL, South American football's governing body, decided to strip Argentina of hosting rights as the country faced a spike in Covid, with more than 30,000 cases a day. The country has also been in strict lockdown since May 22.
Preparations were further disrupted due to invitees Qatar and Australia pulling out their teams. This led to a change in tournament format, and there will now be two groups of 5 teams instead of the original 6.
In this article, we will be taking a look at the top 5 reasons why the men in the Canary yellow are the favorites going into this year's Copa America.
#5 Brazil head into Copa America 2021 in a rich vein of form
Tite and team have not taken their foot off the gas pedal since Copa America 2019, racing to the top of the standings after winning all 4 of their opening World Cup qualifying fixtures. This included a 4-2 mauling of Copa finalists Peru and a 2-0 comprehensive victory over fellow South American heavyweights Uruguay.
Not only have Tite's Brazil maintained a 100% record in qualification so far, they have also racked up a stunning 12 goals in 4 matches, while conceding a paltry 2. Even while Neymar was out injured, other stars like Roberto Firmino (3 goals in 4 appearances) and Richarlison (2 goals in 4 appearances) have stepped up to make themselves counted.
The core of Brazilian youngsters who first shot to stardom during the triumphant 2016 Olympic football campaign have truly come of age.
Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus has matured to become an elite goal poacher while Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa has set South America on fire, already racking up 6 goals in 6 appearances for Flamengo this season in the Copa Libertadores.
#4 Brazil have a rock-solid defense and two of the world's best goalkeepers
In Chelsea's Champions League winner Thiago Silva and Paris Saint-German captain Marquinhos, Brazil have perhaps the most impregnable central defensive partnership in international football.
Not only has the duo conceded only a paltry 2 goals in 4 games so far in South American World Cup Qualifiers, they were in ridiculous form at the 2019 Copa America as well, letting in just one goal in 6 games!
The 36-year old Silva shows no signs of slowing down, having guided Chelsea to an unexpected triumph at the UCL against Manchester City. The 27-year-old Marquinhos has already become PSG's captain and is widely touted as the future Brazil captain as well.
Combine that with not one but two of the world's best goalkeepers in Alisson and Ederson, and even the sharpest of strikeforces will find it difficult to score against the Selecao.
While Liverpool's Alisson is expected to start, Manchester City's EPL title winner Ederson is putting up a stern challenge, having also won the 2020-2021 season Golden Glove award in the English top flight.