The 26-man squad list of Brazil for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar was announced by head coach Tite on Monday, 7th November with some notable omissions yet a star-studded squad ready to bring some samba magic to the tournament. The fan-favorite nation for their Joga Bonito football or ‘the beautiful game’, Brazil are bringing one of the most talented squad in their history and probably the best since the golden generation of the 2006 World Cup. The Selecao are the hot favorites to lift the prestigious trophy in Qatar and add to their collection of dominance in this tournament.
World Cup History
Brazil’s World Cup history is enormous and resonated around the world. No other nation has won more trophies than them with five accolades to their name and the Little Canaries are also the only nation to have qualified for each version of the tournament. They are the second nation after Italy to have defended the World Cup title, winning their first three trophies in four editions between 1958 and 1970. Pele was the curator of Brazil’s victory in the 1958 triumph defeating Sweden 5-2 at Stockholm becoming the youngest ever player at the age of just 17 years and 249 days carrying on his legacy to win two more World Cup trophies. He is the only player to have done so in the tournament’s history. That era also saw names like Carlos Alberto, Garrincha, Jairzinho, Gérson, Rivelino, Tostao, Didi, Vava, Zico, Sokratis and Bellini mesmerize in each edition of the competition.
17 years old Ronaldo Nazario won the Selecao’s fourth title in 1994 in the USA but as an unused substitute with a certain Romario winning the player of the tournament. He was on the pitch four years later with some health problems in the final heartbreak to France although returned valiantly to score twice against Germany to win the 2002 World Cup in Japan. Known as ‘The Phenomenon’, Ronaldo is the second all-time highest scorer in World Cup history with 14 goals. Brazil have not reached the showpiece since but has produced some world-beaters over the years like Rivaldo, Adriano, Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho, Kaka and now Neymar. Brazil's most capped male footballer, Cafu made 20 of his 142 national appearances in world cup tournaments.
Tite’s first World Cup managing Brazil saw the Selecao top their group with seven points, starting the tournament with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland and then winning the rest by a two-goal margin. The round of 16 stages was more cruise-selling for the team than the group stages, eliminating Mexico from the tournament with another 2-0 victory. The road for Brazil though ended in the very next stage losing 2-1 to a talented Belgium team when the Selecao were the favorites to progress to the semi-finals.
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Brazil entered their 22nd World Cup edition since the inception of the tournament with a blast without losing a game in the South American qualifiers or the CONMEBOL, winning 14 of the 17 games played and drawing the other three. The Selecao scored the highest 40 goals in the qualifiers, 13 more than second-placed Argentina and conceded the lowest merely five goals which is two less than their rivals. Neymar was the top goal-scorer for his nation with eight goals in the qualifiers delivering the most number of assists totaling to 16 goal contributions, most by any other player. Goalkeeper Alisson Becker kept the second-most number of clean sheets in the qualifiers with six.
Preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup
The preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup was equally impressive for Brazil as they reigned supreme in the two friendlies played in June and two in September against South Korea and Japan following the conclusion of the qualifiers in March. Neymar scored two penalties with Richarlison, Phillipe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus getting on the scoresheet to dismantle South Korea 5-1 at Seoul before a close 1-0 win over Japan with the PSG star converting from the spot again. In the preceding friendly too, the winning run continued with Neymar this time providing two assists in the 3-0 victory over Ghana and later making more contributions in the 5-1 thrashing of Tunisia. Brazil conceded only twice in these four friendlies and scored near about 15 goals reassuring their ruthless nature going into the tournament.
Brazil FIFA World Cup 2022 Squad:
Goalkeepers: Alisson Becker (Liverpool), Ederson Moraes (Manchester City), Weverton
Defenders: Danilo (Juventus), Dani Alves (Club Universidad Nacional), Alex Sandro (Juventus), Alex Telles (Sevilla, on loan from Manchester United), Gleison Bremer (Juventus), Eder Militao, Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Thiago Silva (Chelsea)
Midfielders: Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle), Casemiro (Manchester United), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Fabinho (Liverpool), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (West Ham)
Forwards: Antony (Manchester United), Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal), Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Pedro (Flamengo), Raphinha (FC Barcelona), Richarlison (Tottenham), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid)
The omission of Roberto Firmino of Liverpool from the squad raise some eyebrows considering the Red’s number nine had nine goal contribution, six goals and three assists, in 12 Premier League games only bettered by Gabriel Jesus who is included after Tite excluded the Arsenal forward from the squad for friendlies in September. Jesus’s teammate Gabriel Magalhaes has been in sensational form for the club too although he does not sit high on Tite’s books and hence not included. The manager decided to take Gabriel Marinelli who reportedly blown his mind in the game against Liverpool played last month finishing 3-2 in Arsenal’s favor for another starring option alongside Vinicius Jr, continuing to jingle for Real Madrid. Richarlison sustained a calf injury last month threatening him to miss the World Cup although he has shaken off it at the right moment to be on the plane for Qatar. While he has not scored a Premier goal for Totenham yet, the 25-year-old has scored seven goals in his last six games for Brazil making him a more ideal goal-scoring forward in the team. Another interesting option for Tite is the top goal scorer in Copa Liberatodoras, South American football version of the Champions League, Pedro who has bagged 12 goals in just seven games of the tournament and looking to use the World Cup in Qatar to drive suitors for a move in Europe. Dani Alves has been recalled to the World Cup squad for Brazil after not being part of the 2018 team and by so, he becomes the oldest Brazilian player to be named in the tournament at the age of 39. Thiago Silva, 38-years old, is still going evergreen in marshalling the back for Chelsea and will do so again for Brazil and he with Alves are the only participants from the 2010 World Cup squad.
As proven by their performances in the World Cup qualifiers, Brazil’s greatest strength in the tournament is their extremely talented squad and the remarkable balance they have in attack as well as in defense. This team is more than capable to strike the gate of opponents repeatedly while keeping their doors shut at the same time. A near-perfect side is ready to launch itself in the mega event hosted by Qatar. Undoubtedly, Brazil possesses the most glamorous frontline with their old star Neymar sharing the ground with Premier League stars like Richarlison, Antony and Gabriel Jesus with the trickery of Raphinha, Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr from the Spanish top-flight. Plus, they have the experience of veterans like Thiago Silva and Dani Alves who participated in the previous tournament among several other competitions in their illustrious careers. The team was defeated in last year’s Copa America final, however, that remains the only loss of points in three years showing the incredible winning mentality inside the squad. Another key factor for Brazil to move deep into the competition will be their fascinating depth even having two world-class goalkeepers in their rank.
Brazil’s weaknesses are themselves as they try to avoid being the shadow of their past again. The 2018 edition of the squad arrived in the tournament with a similar hurrah yet their journey ended in the quarterfinals with their performance in the group stage not living up to the standards. There are few chances for the current squad to repeat the same in Qatar with the kind of astuteness shown in the qualifiers although the lack of games against a top European nation in the last couple of years could act as a disadvantage when the level of opponents increases in the knockout stages. Having the edge in mentality and hard work will be required more than talent in those crucial stages and Tite will know that well carrying the experience from the previous edition.
Star Player: Neymar
The South American giants are not based entirely on one individual to make it happen for them in the 2022 World Cup with so many talented players in their arsenal but they do require a leader to guide them to the title in Qatar. Although Brazil have leaders in Thiago Silva and Dani Alves to upheld the dressing room and guard the defence, they need someone to reaffirm their status in the tournament. Playing in his third World Cup and aged 30 at the moment, Neymar finally wants to be that figure the youngsters in the squad will look up to finally produce the decisive moment for Brazil he wished for. The forward started as a wonder kid back in 2014 lighting up the stage in his homeland but taking a premature exit from the quarterfinals with a back injury. He got the chance to rewrite his tale at the same stage four years later although disappointment prevailed there as well. The PSG star was criticize for his showboating acts and not performing his true role on the pitch often losing his behavior on the pitch. This season though, Neymar has shown levels of maturity becoming exceedingly productive for his club and country. The former Barcelona man has bagged 11 goals and 9 assists in just 13 Ligue 1 matches already overtaking his 19-goal contribution tally last season. For Brazil, he has made eight goal contributions in the last six matches having a hand in 129 goals for his nation during his career. Neymar looks to be in the mood to remove his past disarrays in the World Cup which is to be his last tournament and Brazil are to benefit from it if he maintains his professionalism on the pitch.
Opponents & Fixtures
Brazil vs Serbia - 25th November 2022, Lusail Stadium (12:30 AM)
Brazil vs Switzerland - 28th November 2022, (9:30 PM)
Cameroon vs Brazil - 3rd December 2022, (12:30 AM)
Brazil are potted in a familiar-looking group to that of the 2018 World Cup with Serbia and Switzerland being their opponent then also. The Selecao also faced Cameroon back in their nation in the 2014 version of the tournament. This is a group Brazil should not find it difficult to pass even though Serbia inherited one of the best attacks in the tournament than their previous group with Switzerland topping their qualifying group ahead of Italy and Cameroon also sustaining a commendable attacking threat.
How Brazil will Lineup at FIFA World Cup 2022?
Liverpool’s Alisson continues to be Brazil’s first choice in most of the games in the qualifiers and is expected to be the mainstay between the sticks in the World Cup itself although shot-stopping and ball-playing quality are almost equal between him and Manchester City’s Ederson. Dani Alves is a reliable figure even at the age of 39 but has not played much football lately in the Mexican league and in any case, Danilo of Juventus is the preferable option to start at right-back having done the same in the qualifiers as well as the friendlies. The center-back pairing of Marquinhos and 38-year-old Thiago Silva is unlikely to be disrupted with Gleison Bremer and Eder Militao waiting for their opportunity to shine. Both Alex, Sandro and Telles, will have a competition for the left-back spot in the World Cup but neither has shown their blistering form of the past. The midfield and the forward line will be a mode of experimentation for Tite according to the opponents and situation in games. Tite has switched between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 according to his needs in the qualifiers. He can use the former in the knockout phases as the pair of Casemiro and Fred bring more stability in the middle of the park. In the group stages, he can use an extra forward with Richarlison leading the line and Neymar dropping from the false-nine role to a more creative number 10 role. Lucas Paqueta continues to be Tite’s favorite because of his versatility while Bruno Guimareas is also staking his claim after impressing at Newcastle. On the wings, Raphinha and Vinicius Jr are the first choices although Antony and Gabriel Martinelli are not behind. Even Pedro of Flamengo could be the natural number nine option to launch if the other strategies to win games fails for Tite.
Every time Brazil steps on the pitch in a World Cup there is always an expectation on them to win anything and everything added by the pressure of their history in this tournament. The burden became too much for the Brazilian squads of the last four editions and it is left to see whether the same faith lies for this team or Tite’s side displays a different mantle in this tournament. Reaching the last four of the World Cup in Qatar should be the minimum aim for the side if they are unable to reach the final let alone win it albeit being the top favorites for this edition. Considering a far less talented squad in 2014 reached the last four when hosted by them, this will be a failure for the Selecao if they manage anything less than it.
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