Two-decade wait motivates Samba dance

Neymar will lead Brazil's hunt for a sixth title. PHOTO/AFP 

What you need to know:

Hopefully, the Selecao, who have produced stars like Mário Zagallo, Pele, Rivelino, Garrincha, Ronaldo and Rivaldo will be the last side to leave Qatar, with the trophy at the end of the championship.


Saudi Arabia’s shock victory over Argentina on Tuesday may not only have sparked delight in the Middle East nation and even a public holiday yesterday.

Argentina wounded, Brazil rises?

But that key surprise result which ended a 36-match unbeaten run thus far of the 22nd Fifa World Cup could have left as many Argentines hurt as pundits.

Prior, the South American nation led by Lionel Messi had split opinion with Brazil on who would be the outright favourite to lift the trophy come the December 18 final at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.

In the aftermath of the humbling of Lionel Scaloni’s side, perhaps that now leaves Brazil as the real key contenders for glory in Qatar.

European barricades

Tite’s side was the last team to arrive in Qatar late on Saturday. They will be the last team to kick-off group stage action when they start their Group G business against Serbia in Lusail tonight.

And hopefully, the Selecao, who have produced stars like Mário Zagallo, Pele, Rivelino, Garrincha, Ronaldo and Rivaldo will be the last side to leave Qatar, with the trophy at the end of the championship.

The five-time winners Brazil have not tasted trophy delight since defeating Germany 2-0 thanks to a Ronaldo brace in the 2002 final played in Yokohama, Japan.

Brazil has failed to overcome European opposition in the knockout stages of the tournament since. They suffered a 1-0 loss to France at the 2006 quarterfinal in Germany, then came a 2-1 crumbling at the hands of the Dutch at the same stage in 2010 in South Africa.

As hosts in 2014, Brazil was embarrassed by a Germany machine which led 5-0 at the break before winning the semi-final contest 7-1 on a horrible night in Belo Horizonte.

Hungry Selecao

Four years ago in Russia, Tite had built some decent momentum but a tactical blow up cost Brazil, losing the quarterfinal 2-1 to Belgium’s golden generation.

Now two decades later, Brazil is a hungrier side. From the lessons, Tite is still in charge and he has 16 players set for World Cup debuts in Qatar.

Since losing to Belgium, Brazil has won 37 and lost just one of its 50 matches, that 1-0 defeat coming against Argentina in Copa America final on July 11, 2021.

It is important to add that during that cycle, Brazil has conceded 19 goals but also scooped 33 clean sheets in those 50 matches.

Less dependence on Neymar

Star man Neymar was the poster boy of the World Cup eight years ago only for it to end in misery.

Mentally and tactically, there has been a lot of dependency on the exciting forward but now 30, the pressure to win it is immense on the PSG forward.

Luckily, the key ingredient that Tite has encrypted the element of less dependence on him. A fluid three-man attack is set to be deployed with Neymar, Richarlison and Raphinha switching positions.

The trio will have back up from Real Madrid’s duo of Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo, the two Gabriels Jesus and Martinelli from Arsenal, Antony and Flamengo’s Pedro.

In the middle, Lucas Paquetá and Casemiro will be the focal points and set to offer cover to the 38-year-old Silva who will have company of Marquinhos with Éder Militão available.

They are in a group that has familiar opponents in Switzerland and Cameroon but in Serbia, who have fiery attack in Dušan Vlahović, Aleksandar Mitrović, Luka Jović and skipper Dušan Tadić, Brazil starts off with one of the tournament’s possible dark horses.

BRAZIL AT THE WORLD CUP

MOST CAPS

20 matches: Cafu (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)

19 matches: Ronaldo (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)

18 matches: Cláudio Taffarel (1990, 1994, 1998), Dunga (1990, 1994, 1998)


MOST GOALS

15 goals: Ronaldo 1998 (4), 2002 (8), 2006 (3)

12 goals: Pelé 1958 (6), 1962 (1), 1966 (1), 1970 (4)

9: Ademir 1950, Vavá 1958 (5), 1962 (4), Jairzinho  1970 (7), 1974 (2)


WINNING WORLD CUPS

Year: Manager & Captain

1958: Vicente Feola & Bellini

1962: Aymoré Moreira & Mauro Ramos

1970: Mário Zagallo & Carlos Alberto Torres

1994: Carlos Alberto & Parreira Dunga

2002: Luiz Felipe Scolari & Cafu

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