Brazil are ready to launch their famous ‘Mission Hexa’ in Qatar, and this time around, they have the team for it, despite some concerns.
Tite, one of the few managers coming from Russia to Qatar, has had more than four years to prepare for this World Cup, and from the looks of the squad, he has done a pretty good job.
As usual, the Selecao have a plethora of talented players regarding their attacking prowess. With Neymar coming to his third and possibly last World Cup, he will be eager to lead the line with all he has got, and he will have good service besides him, players who are well in form.
Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo Goes have been regular performers for European Champions Real Madrid, while
Raphinha has found form in Barcelona recently. The Gunners duo, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli, have been a key cog in sending Arsenal to the top of the Premier League, while Pedro has been ripping it up in the Brazilian league.
Their midfield is also strong enough to hold its own. Casemiro has found his feet at Manchester United, meaning he will be the protector of their defence as long as he plays. Bruno Guimaraes of Newcastle United has only gotten better and better this year, and Lucas Paqueta is Tite’s trump card as the midfielder can make and score a goal.
While all that sounds nice and cosy for a World Cup win, Brazil’s defence can make their fans worry. Most of their defenders are in their 30s, meaning they might struggle while dealing with fast players.
Especially Dani Alves, who, even at 39, is Brazil’s first-choice right-back. He had a good six-month spell back at Barcelona but often struggled when playing against quick wingers, and that might repeat at the World Cup if he plays.
Thiago Silva is still going strong at 38 but has the same problem as Dani Alves, his lack of competence in handling pacy players.
The other full-backs, Danilo, Alex Sandro, and Alex Telles, are also not in a very good place when it comes to form and thus can be the biggest headache for Tite in Qatar.
While a possible solution could be playing Eder Militao wide, the Real Madrid player’s susceptibility to high press creates another facet of Brazil’s defensive pickle.
But still, Brazil have one thing to recover from those defensive holes, which is their attacking firepower. Whatever the opposition puts them through, they can give that back with interest.
In the South American qualifiers, they scored 40 goals, 13 more than second-best Argentina and Ecuador. They also conceded the least number of goals, five, but that still cannot be totally reassuring.
Like other South American teams, one more concern for Brazil will be their lack of preparation against European teams, especially because in every World Cup since their fifth win in 2002, they have been knocked out by a European side.
Their last match against a European side was in 2019 when they faced the Czech Republic, and one against a team in this World Cup dates back to the 2018 World Cup when Belgium knocked them out.
Despite all of that, Brazil are capable enough of bringing the sixth home, and if they can, what can be a better farewell gift than that for the retiring legends?