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A Premier League core and Neymar's quest for glory. Meet the Brazil team targeting a sixth World Cup

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Brazil is inscribed in football history as a five-time winner of the World Cup, but they haven’t held up the famous trophy since 2002.

The Seleço have only made it through the quarter-finals in one of the last four World Cups and on the occasion that they did, they were thrashed 7-1 by Germany in the semi-final on home soil in 2014.

But with less than two months to go until the start of this year’s tournament in Qatar, Brazil have emerged as the favorites to push the envelope and add a sixth star above their badge.

Brazil has become the favorite to lift the trophy at the World Cup in Qatar this winter

Brazil has become the favorite to lift the trophy at the World Cup in Qatar this winter

Tite’s side will take on Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in Group G and are expected to progress comfortably to the knockout stages.

Ahead of the Samba Boys’ friendlies against Ghana and Tunisia in the coming week, Sports post see what the current team has to offer.

A core of the Premier League

Times have changed since Brazil last won the World Cup in 2002 when 13 of their 23-man roster played their club football in their home country and none played in the Premier League.

20 years later, the shift is clearly visible. Only three of the 26-man roster for this month’s friendlies will play in Brazil, while 12 are on the books of English clubs. That is more representation than any other country.

Four members of the current squad came to the Premier League this summer: Manchester United duo Casemiro and Antony, West Ham midfielder Lucas Paqueta and Nottingham Forest fullback Renan Lodi.

Casemiro and Antony have been added to Brazil's representation in the Premier League this summer

Casemiro and Antony have been added to Brazil's representation in the Premier League this summer

Casemiro and Antony have been added to Brazil’s representation in the Premier League this summer

Representation in the Premier League runs through the entire team. Ederson and Alisson are battling for the number 1 shirt, Thiago Silva is still strong in defense at 37, Fabinho, Fred and Bruno Guimaraes can form a midfield three and Richarlison and Roberto Firmino offer options up front.

There are also the England-based players who have not been chosen this month but can still play in the World Cup.

Arsenal’s three Gabriels – Jesus, Martinelli and Magalhaes – have been surprising omissions from the squad, while Arthur, the Tottenham fullback, Emerson Royal and Aston Villa’s loaner Philippe Coutinho are hoping for recalls.

Attack options galore

The days of Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Rivaldo are over, but Brazil has no shortage of attacking quality in their squad. No fewer than nine attackers were selected by Tite for the two friendlies this month.

The battle for the number 9 shirt alone is fierce. Roberto Firmino, Matheus Cunha, Richarlison and Pedro will try to stake their claim this month in the surprising absence of Gabriel Jesus.

Neymar is guaranteed to be one of the best spots, but there is a selection dilemma for Tite on the other hand thanks to the emergence of a host of young stars in recent years.

Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus was excluded from the squad this month despite his electric club form

Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus was excluded from the squad this month despite his electric club form

Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus was excluded from the squad this month despite his electric club form

Rodrygo has scored once in five caps for Brazil

Rodrygo has scored once in five caps for Brazil

His Real Madrid team-mate Vinicius Junior is another option for Brazil on the attack

His Real Madrid team-mate Vinicius Junior is another option for Brazil on the attack

Real Madrid pair Rodrygo (21 years old) and Vinicius Junior (22) are options for Brazil

Vinicius Junior, Antony and Rodrygo are all 22 years or younger and offer a lot of exciting potential. Raphinha, who is only 25 himself, is seeing his star rise after his summer move to Barcelona.

It is a sign of the wealth of talent available that Jesus – who has scored four goals in his first seven league appearances for Arsenal – has been out of the roster this month as Tite wants to get a closer look at more fringe players.

Gunners’ star is still expected to be chosen for the World Cup, but to put it this way Gareth Southgate wouldn’t even have thought of dropping Harry Kane two months before the tournament so he could see Ollie Watkins and Patrick Bamford could give opportunities.

With FIFA increasing its squad capacity for Qatar from 23 to 26 players, it seems likely Tite will take advantage of that to fill his roster with forwards.

Neymar’s Quest for Glory

Ever since Neymar came on the scene as an exciting teenager at Santos, Brazil has pinned their hopes on the attacker to take a sixth world title. So far he has failed to do so.

Neymar was the poster boy of the World Cup when Brazil hosted the tournament in 2014 and he got off to an electric start – scoring twice in the opening game against Croatia, before scoring two more goals in the final group game against Cameroon.

But disaster struck in the closing minutes of the quarter-final against Colombia when he suffered a fractured vertebra under a challenge from Juan Zaniga. He was missed more than anyone could have imagined in the semi-finals when Brazil were humiliated 7-1 by Germany.

Neymar suffered a fractured vertebra in the 2014 World Cup quarter-final against Colombia

Neymar suffered a fractured vertebra in the 2014 World Cup quarter-final against Colombia

Neymar suffered a fractured vertebra in the 2014 World Cup quarter-final against Colombia

Four years later, the attacker scored twice in Russia, but his tournament is perhaps more remembered for his stage performance – it was revealed that he spent a total of 14 minutes on the ground during Brazil’s five matches.

Brazil did win the Copa America in 2019, but Neymar missed the entire tournament through injury, so his personal quest for glory continues in earnest; especially after the defeat in the Copa America final last year on home soil.

Without an international honor to his name, there will be doubts as to whether he can be considered one of Brazil’s greatest players ever.

This may not be Neymar’s last World Cup – he will be 34 by the time the tournament starts in 2026 – but he certainly won’t be at the same level as he plays in the US, Canada and Mexico.

After starting the season with 11 goals and eight assists in 11 appearances for PSG, Brazil is hoping to get in shape at the right time.

The 30-year-old is still on the hunt for a major international trophy and is in red-hot form

The 30-year-old is still on the hunt for a major international trophy and is in red-hot form

The 30-year-old is still on the hunt for a major international trophy and is in red-hot form

The battle for number 1

No other manager in Qatar will be able to claim to have two better goalkeepers on their team than Tite, who has made the unenviable decision to choose between Alisson and Ederson for the No. 1 shirt.

Both could easily claim to be the best goalkeeper in the world and they have been crucial components of the Premier League’s two best teams for the past four years.

Since 2018-19, one of the two has won the England top flight’s golden glove award and last season they shared it with 20 clean sheets each.

Liverpool's Alisson and Manchester City's Ederson offer Brazil two world-class options in goal

Liverpool's Alisson and Manchester City's Ederson offer Brazil two world-class options in goal

Liverpool’s Alisson and Manchester City’s Ederson offer Brazil two world-class options in goal

Alisson has played the most for Brazil in World Cup qualifiers and has historically been the preferred choice. The Liverpool shot-stopper has 55 caps compared to Ederson’s 18.

At the Copa America last summer, Tite switched between all three goalkeepers in his roster. Ederson played four games (including the quarter-final, semi-final and final), Alisson played twice and even third-choice Weverton got the gloves in one group match.

It may even come to the point in Qatar that we will see a change between the sticks at halftime.

A record-breaking qualifying campaign

Brazil may owe their World Cup favorites tag to their remarkable qualifying campaign.

Tite’s side went unbeaten in 17 games, winning 14 and drawing three to set a new record of 45 points in South American qualifiers. They scored 40 goals, scoring four or more six times in a match.

They also had to play a home game against Argentina. FIFA agreed to cancel that after the original game was interrupted for just five minutes as Argentina walked away as Brazilian health officials took the field and demanded the isolation of four Argentine players accused of violating quarantine rules.

Ahead of their friendlies this month, Brazil are unbeaten in their last 13 games since losing last year’s Copa America final to Argentina. That is their only defeat in 27 games since November 2019. No one travels to Qatar in better form.

Brazil were unbeaten in their 17 World Cup qualifiers, winning 14 and drawing three

Brazil were unbeaten in their 17 World Cup qualifiers, winning 14 and drawing three

Brazil were unbeaten in their 17 World Cup qualifiers, winning 14 and drawing three

Tite’s last hurrah?

The Brazilian manager’s position has historically not been great for job security. Between 1998 and 2016, six different coaches were given the role (including Luiz Felipe Scolari and Dunga twice) and the majority did not last more than two years in the role.

But Tite has gone against the grain. The 61-year-old has held the position since 2016 but has confirmed he will step down after the World Cup. He leaves as the longest-serving manager in the country’s history.

Tite inherited a squad that had just been knocked out of the group stage at the Copa America and has ushered in a new generation of Brazilian talent with relative success.

Tite, 61, retires from the World Cup as manager after six years in charge

Tite, 61, retires from the World Cup as manager after six years in charge

Tite, 61, retires from the World Cup as manager after six years in charge

Being knocked out by Belgium in the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago was undoubtedly disappointing, but Brazil won the Copa America the following year and reached the final again in 2021.

Tite’s win rate as boss currently stands at 75.7%, the best of any Selecao executives since Scolari’s first stint in the early 2000s when he won the World Cup.

“I’ve won everything in my career and all that’s left is the World Cup,” Tite told Brazilian broadcaster SporTV in February.

There would be no better way to go out.