Chasing a record-extending sixth World Cup title, Brazil is the favourite to go all the way in Qatar this winter.
Tite, who is set to become the first manager to lead Brazil at back-to-back World Cups since Tele Santana in 1982 and 1986, has assembled international football’s most lethal attack.
At the helm is Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar who, since his debut at the World Cup in 2014, has been directly involved in 42 per cent of Brazil’s 19 goals in the tournament (six goals and two assists).
Three more goals and he’ll become his nation’s all-time record goalscorer, surpassing the legendary Pele, though O Rei lifted the game’s biggest prize on three occasions.
Neymar is yet to be a world champion, but he’s dreaming of correcting that and has envisioned doing so at the expense of his clubmate Lionel Messi – another seeking immortality in the forthcoming weeks.
“Everyone obviously has high hopes for the World Cup and feels not anxious, but excited. Everybody wants to be at the World Cup,” he said in a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph.
“We don’t discuss it very much, but sometimes we joke about crossing paths with each other in the final. I tell him [Messi] that I’ll be champion and win against him, and we have a good laugh.”
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It is a strong Premier League contingent who will be representing Brazil, with Tite calling up 12 players from English clubs. Among those selected is West Ham’s Lucas Paqueta, who has endured a difficult start to life in east London, but Arsenal duo Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli recently revealed what trait makes the midfielder second to none in the Selecao squad.
“Paqueta (is the best dancer),” Martinelli said onSky Sports.
Jesus echoed the sentiment: “I would say Paqueta (too), yea Paqueta, yea, yea yea, he would teach everyone (a lesson in a dance-off). He’d teach everyone!”
“Viniscus as well, but Paqueta I think is the best.”
Brazil’s defence will be put to the test in this opener. Only Memphis Depay and Harry Kane (12) scored more goals than Aleksandar Mitrovic (eight in eight games) in the main round of European qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, play-offs excluded. Meanwhile, no player delivered more assists than compatriot Dusan Tadic (six in eight games).
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