World Cup 2018 | Brazil Team | Squad, Preview, Fixtures, Where to Watch, Best Starting XI & Predictions
Tite announced his 23-man Brazil national team squad for Russia well in advance - by mid-May (Germany have announced theirs just now) - and he's gone with the players that helped him ace the tough CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers.
In fact, in a group that saw Argentina barely scrape through on the last day, Brazil had already become the first team in the world to seal their place in the World Cup. They finished on 41 points, with 2nd place Uruguay a good 10 points behind.
Here then is Brazil's World Cup Squad:
Goalkeepers: Alisson Becker (Roma), Ederson Moraes(Manchester City), Cassio Ramos (Corinthians)
Defenders: Miranda (Inter Milan), Marquinhos, Thiago Silva (both Paris Saint-Germain), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Fagner (Corinthians), Pedro Geromel (Gremio), Danilo (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Paulinho and Philippe Coutinho (both FC Barcelona), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Willian (Chelsea), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Forwards: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Douglas Costa (Juventus), Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
Brazil Man to Watch
Neymar, who else.
The man tipped to take over the throne from Messrs. Ronaldo and Messi, Neymar for Brazil is an entirely different animal to Neymar for PSG -- or indeed Barcelona. He doesn't crumble under pressure, doesn't take the mickey out unnecessarily, is a ruthless finisher and there are few footballers who show more commitment to the shirt on his back.
The weaknesses that seem to have strangulated his club career disappear by the wayside when he wears canary yellow and his undoubted strengths get accentuated - helped by a coach who makes sure the team plays in a way that does this best for his best player.
He's my tip for the Golden Ball this time around, too.
Sixth and dropping fast when he took over, Brazil have played some of the best football they've seen for quite a long while now under the former Corinthians boss. They went on an unbeaten run after his take-over, winning the first nine on a trot, that saw them ace Qualification with room to spare.
A man commonly acknowledged as a father-figure by the entire squad, Tite's loyal to a fault (hence the recalling of Augusto and Paulinho despite them both being in China at the time - he'd worked with them while at Corinthians, and the trust in Corinithian Fagner), and Brazil have been revitalised - both on and off the field - since his appointment.
Playing a fluid 4-3-3 with freedom for Neymar being provided by a bulwark of three strong, powerful midfielders in Renato Augusto, Casemiro, and Paulinho, he's reintroduced flair to a side that's sorely lacked it these past few years without compromising on the solidity that his predecessors struggled so hard to introduce (failing more often than not)
He's definitely one to watch out for this tournament.
Although nominally Neymar, Tite believes that captaincy is more than just an armband and has been distributing them amongst his squad, a new captain for every game. In fact, for their latest friendly against Croatia, Brazil's captain was Gabriel Jesus!
Brazil FIFA Rank
It's a horribly useless ranking system that often gets it wrong more than they do right -- this time, though, it's fairly decent.
Brazil are ranked 2nd, and boy! do they play some pretty football
Brazil Fixtures | Brazil Venues
Sequestered in the relatively straightforward Group E along with Serbia, Costa Rica, and an often dangerous Switzerland, Brazil should be able to make it out to the knockout stages without much fuss.
Here are Brazil's World Cup Fixtures, for the Group Stage:
June 17: Brazil vs Switzerland, Rostov-on-Don
June 22: Brazil vs Costa Rica, St. Petersburg
June 27: Serbia vs Brazil, Moscow (Spartak)
Brazil TV Schedule | Brazil Live Stream
Brazil vs Switzerland, Sunday 17th June: Ten 2, 11.30 PM (IST)
Brazil vs Costa Rica, Friday 22nd June: Ten 2, 5:30 PM (IST)
Serbia vs Brazil, Wednesday 27th June: Ten 2, 11:30 PM (IST)
Brazil Formation | Brazil Starting XI
Predicted Starting XI: Alisson Becker (GK); Fagner, Miranda, Marquinhos, Marcelo; Renato Augusto, Casemiro, Paulinho; Coutinho, Jesus, Neymar
The only team to have been present in ALL World Cups till date, Brazil are the tournament's most successful unit.
Brazil World Cup History
First Stage: 20 (all of them, obviously)
Titles: 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
There's no real reason why Brazil shouldn't go all the way this World Cup - like Tite's Corinthians did in the FIFA Club World Cup in Russia in 2012 - they have a well-balanced squad with plenty of flair in attack, immense solidity and aggression in midfield, and a well-rounded back four.
Dani Alves' injury might indeed turn out to be a blessing in disguise - Fagner's not as ambitious as the PSG man and his presence would help Brazil maintain better defensive shape once Marcelo starts acting like the inside-forward he thinks he is. (which is his greatest asset, so please don't see this as an attack on the best left-back in world football)
There are few sides in the tournament who have this ideal mix in their squad - and if Neymar can hit the heights he did during qualification, where he was without a doubt the best footballer on the planet - the Canary Yellows will take some stopping.