The 2018 World Cup is an opportunity for Brazil to write the wrongs of four years ago and and they certainly look a more solid outfit now than they did then. Quite a squad overhaul has taken place since and the South Americans look capable of giving anyone a good game in Russia.
Their defence and midfield is packed with experience and players who are disciplined enough to know their role and largely stick to it. That should provide the base for an extremely talented front three to express themselves and provide the attacking spark that Brazilians will be hoping will fire their team to glory this summer.
Brazil’s Potential Starting Lineup:
Brazil should have no problems in goal this summer, even though two of their keepers have won just one cap. Man City’s Ederson is an excellent back-up option but Alisson has made the number one jersey his own with some assured displays over the past two years.
The 25-year old has emerged as first choice at Roma and started 16 of Brazil’s 18 World Cup qualifiers. He was a big reason why they ended up with by far the best defensive record in South America with just 11 goals conceded.
Left Back: Marcelo
The only member of this potential 2018 eleven that also started Brazil’s 2014 World Cup Semi-Final nightmare against Germany is Marcelo. Therefore he will have more reason than most to chase a touch of redemption in Russia and he’s certainly still worthy of his place in this side.
Defensively, he does have odd moment where his concentration seems to lapse but he is a better defender than people give him credit for and going forward he remains one of the most dynamic full-backs in the world game. He has now won 19 trophies with Real Madrid and that experience will be vital as Brazil go for glory this summer.
Centre Back: Miranda
At 33, Miranda is the oldest member of this Brazilian squad but he has been something of a late bloomer, only really cementing himself in the first choice eleven in recent years. Tite has preferred him to 2014 skipper Thiago Silva and the centre-back remains a dependable performer at club level with Inter. His no-nonsense approach is in total contrast to the likes of David Luiz and more expansive Brazilian centre-backs of yesteryear but he does his job well and has been a key part of Brazil’s revival as they’ve looked to build solid defensive foundations in recent years.
Centre Back: Marquinhos
Miranda and Marquinhos have established themselves as Brazil’s first-choice central defensive pairing with the latter proof that a new generation of Brazilian talent is emerging despite this being quite an old squad.
It feels like the PSG man has been around forever already and he does have six seasons of European football behind him but Marquinhos is still only 24. He possesses all the attributes you’d expect from a modern-day centre-back and is more component on the ball than his partner so it’s Marquinhos who is more likely to be used to feed the ball out into midfield.
Right Back: Danilo
The right-back position might just be the weak link in this Brazilian side. With Dani Alves out injured, Tite has a decision to make and Danilo might just be the man to get the nod ahead of Fagner, the other recognised right-back in the squad.
Danilo was much maligned at Real Madrid for his tendency to make costly errors but Pep Guardiola clearly saw something in him and the 26-year old had a decent first season in England. His natural attacking tendency makes him the most obvious back-up for Alves but the top sides will fancy they can exploit the defensive side of his game.
Read more: Brazil’s 2018 World Cup Timeline
Holding Midfielder: Casemiro
Casemiro may not have had his best season but he has been one of the Brazilian players to really emerge since the last World Cup. He has made the holding role is own for club and country and is now one of the first names on Zinedine Zidane’s team-sheet for Real Madrid whenever a big game comes around.
He offers good protection to this Brazilian back four and is perhaps the single main reason why they will be much tougher to break down at the 2018 World Cup than they were on home soil four years ago.
Central Midfielder: Paulinho
Paulinho is certainly a player that stirs some debate but he’s another regular in this Brazilian side with 11 starts during qualifying. Eyebrows were raised when Barcelona opted to sign him from Guangzhou Evergrande last year but he did make a bigger impact at Camp Nou than many expected with 49 appearances and 9 goals from midfield.
He’s another key cog in a Brazilian midfield that has a bit of a workmanlike feel to it. The likes of Paulinho won’t exactly have the other major powers quaking in their boots but perhaps more than any previous Brazilian side, there is a real team ethic to Tite’s squad and Paulinho offers many qualities, not least a genuine goal threat from midfield which should help ease the pressure on the front three.
Central Midfielder: Renato Augusto
He may not be a big name, but that’s largely because he has played his football in China for the past two years following on from four years in Brazil with Corinthians. Renato Augusto has been one of the main beneficiaries in the change in coach with Tite trusting him to start 15 of Brazil’s 18 qualifiers.
He’s a good passer of the ball and is capable of making bursts forward to help launch Brazilian counter-attacks. He certainly has more creative qualities than his central midfield partner Paulinho but the 30 year-old is another that does a solid job for a team, which keeps its shape well when the opposition has the ball.
Right Wing: Philippe Coutinho
The real excitement and flare in this side comes from out wide. While Willian is a more solid option who may be used in some games, Philippe Coutinho’s late season form for Barcelona may just ensure that he gets the nod when the World Cup commences and certainly that would be the more attacking option.
Coutinho will turn 26 just five days before Brazil’s first game and he has really matured as a player in recent years offering a goal threat and a great deal of creativity on a more consistent basis than he managed during his first few years at Liverpool. Opposing sides in Russia will no doubt be targeting Neymar but they can’t afford to take their eye off the ball when it comes to Coutinho, who is another genuine potential match-winner.
Left Wing: Neymar
It almost goes without saying that Neymar is the star of this Brazilian side and he is a better player now than he was four years ago when he performed pretty well at the 2014 World Cup despite enormous pressure on his shoulders. Injury cut short that campaign and injury has been threatening his participation at this summer’s tournament too but he is expected to be fit to feature.
Tite could opt to use him through the middle but the left flank has increasingly been where Neymar has been used for club and country and he will be a huge threat from there as he bids to truly step out of the shadows of the likes of Messi and Ronaldo. With 53 goals in 83 internationals, Neymar has over 40 more goals than the next highest scorer in this Brazilian squad so he will need to have a good tournament if Brazil are going to be serious contenders.
Striker: Gabriel Jesus
The biggest Brazilian talent to emerge since 2014 is certainly that of Gabriel Jesus, the latest in a long line of exciting young Brazilian strikers. He announced himself on the international stage with a brilliant brace on debut in a tough qualifier away to Ecuador and hasn’t really looked back since. He finished up with 7 qualifying goals, one more than Neymar managed and only Edinson Cavani netted more in South America.
Although injury initially made his adjustment to English football a tough one, 17 goals for Manchester City in the 2017-18 season suggests he is destined for the very top and he will have a big role to play for Brazil in Russia this summer.
Follow Free Super Tips on Twitter to stay up to date with our daily tips and predictions or browse more football content on our website: