Brazil and the 2018 World Cup

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LIMA, PERU - NOVEMBER 15: Gabriel Jesus of Brazil celebrates with teammate Neymar Jr. after scoring the first goal of his team during a match between Peru and Brazil as part of FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers at Nacional Stadium on November 15, 2016 in Lima, Peru. (Photo by Leonardo Fernandez/LatinContent/Getty Images)

Probably the most dominant team of anyone in the World Cup qualifiers, Brazil have earned 37 points in 16 matches, and have an astounding goal difference of 27. The Canarinho were the first team to qualify for the 2018 finals—besides Russia, the host nation—and are already showing that they are ready to win the competition for a sixth time.

Coaching

Tite was hired as the new Brazil manager in 2016, six days after the second Dunga era had ended. He is in one of the most high-pressure jobs in football, but the 56-year-old is yet to show any signs of feeling the heat. The team’s performances have been near-perfect since he took charge.

Brazil have some of the flashiest players the world has to offer, but Tite’s managerial approach prefers efficient football over the flamboyant style of football with which the country is associated. Overconfidence was their downfall at the last two World Cups, but Tite has made it clear that he will not tolerate any of that. Organised football, paired with individual flair when necessary, has made the Brazilians a team to be feared once again.

Squad

The squad is exceptionally deep and there are quality players in every position. Ever since Júlio César’s decline, the team have struggled to find a consistent goalkeeper, but that issue seems to be solved as two worthy candidates have emerged.

Alisson, a starter at Roma, has exceptional size and is known for his reflexive ability to save close-range shots. Manchester City’s Ederson, the most expensive goalkeeper in football history, is currently the deputy. He has yet to make an official start for his country, but has shown real promise with former club Benfica and at City. It seems as though Alisson is currently the preferred man for the job, but Ederson is quickly turning heads.

The likely back four will be Dani Alves, Marcelo, Miranda, and Thiago Silva, which means that there should not be any defensive issues to worry about, but those on the bench make the depth all the more impressive. The likes of David Luiz, Marquinhos, and Alex Sandro are part of a wealth of talent at the back, and Tite’s only challenge will be selecting the right players out of an elite pool.

The midfield is not as stellar as one might expect, but it’s very solid and can compete with almost anyone. Renato Augusto has been a consistent throughout his career, but his move to China last year will raise questions over his ability to compete at the World Cup; Casemiro is one of the best defensive midfielders in football and will serve as the team’s bruiser, as well as providing accurate passing and incredible, long-range shots; Paulinho and Fernandinho, of Barcelona and Manchester City, are not to be taken lightly, either.

Further up the pitch, there are two top attacking midfielders in Phillipe Coutinho and Willian. The two Premier League stars are as creative and skillful as they come, and have shown time and time again their ability to wreak havoc on opposing defences. Having to choose between them will be no easy task, but Willian’s ability to play out wide will be very useful in fitting the team together.

Brazil’s front-line is young, but has the potential to bring back memories of their great attacks of the past. The biggest name, of course, will be Neymar. The most expensive player in football history will definitely have a target on his back during the tournament, but he seems to thrive in that situation. Leading his country to victory in the World Cup will be the highlight of his career, especially after the injury he suffered in 2014.

Besides him, Brazil may have finally found a true starting striker in 20-year-old Gabriel Jesus. The Manchester City star has been tearing it up for his club side, and already has five goals in nine senior appearances for Brazil. His name is known around the football world, and he is ready to become one of the best in the world.

Players like Douglas Costa and Roberto Firmino should also not be overlooked, as they have had serious success for both club and country. They will likely play supporting roles to Neymar and Jesus, but that simply shows the great depth of this side.

Brazil have all the tools to dominate the tournament and win it all, but South American sides have a history of struggling while playing in Europe. Tite will do all in his power to ensure that this does not happen to his side, and they will be expected to win the tournament outright by their supporters.

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I’m originally from the island of Aruba in the Caribbean, but I’m currently a student at Texas Christian University majoring in journalism. Football has been my passion since I was very young, whether it be in playing it, watching it, or writing about it.

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