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Qatar tribune

Vinay Nayudu


Five time champions Brazil made their dazzling first eye-catching FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 appearance the moment they touched down at the Hamad International Airport in Doha just four days ago wearing dapper light grey suits. They seemed like a team possessed walking behind their coach Tite.

Brazil were also the last of the teams to arrive for the 2022 football extravaganza on the day of the inaugural match.

On Wednesday, they nonetheless seemed set to take on Serbia in their opening Group G match at the Lusail Stadium at 10 pm on Thursday in search of their stupendous sixth World Cup title. The group has Cameroon and Switzerland as the other teams.

Touted as favourites, Brazil as a team has been enjoying excellent form. They had an outstanding qualifying campaign, as they went unbeaten to finish top of the South American qualifying group.

Yet, the fact that Brazil did not win the trophy they virtually owned with five titles in 2018 does weigh heavy. The Selecao were knocked out by Belgium in the quarter-finals in Russia. And their last World Cup triumph was 20 years ago inspired by the attacking triumvirate of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho.

The class of 2022 are taking the 2002 triumph as inspiration to weave their magic in Qatar in quest of a golden sixth.

They have Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, who lines up for his third World Cup in fine form for his French club Paris Saint-Germain. The 30-year-old has scored 13 goals with 11 assists in 19 games in Ligue 1 and the Champions League.

They also have Vinicius Junior, Gabriel Jesus, Alisson, Thiago Silva, Militao, Richarlison, Dani Alves, Fabinho and Casemiro which makes them strong contenders.

But while much is expected of them, Brazil have no problem being the favourites, stated their coach Tite at a media interaction ahead of their clash with Serbia.

“The pressure is natural. Brazil have the biggest history in soccer and with that legacy always comes the pressure. We have some of the players that call the biggest media attention in the world so we take it naturally, it’s our dream winning a World Cup. Pressure is inevitable,” said the 61-year-old.

Tite also brushed aside reminders of Brazil not having won the trophy in the last 20 years. “In Russia (2018) we only had two years to fix the team and I came to the rescue. Now it is different because I had the opportunity the build the team the way I wanted,” Tite said.

“That’s why my feeling today is completely different than four years ago. I’m not that nervous because all the work has been done.”

A smart tactician, Tite kept the cards close to his chest about the team selection.

His reputation as a defensive coach means there has been much speculation over his picks for the match against Serbia, with the biggest question mark surrounding Vinicius Jr.

The 22-year-old scored Real Madrid’s winner in the Champions League final against Liverpool and finished eighth in the Ballon d’Or last month, elevating him to world-class level in his fifth season with the La Liga side.

“We have three models and we will adapt accordingly with each opponent we face. All the players know that,” Tite said.

“Me as a coach, I need to have the capacity to bring out the best characteristics of each player.

“Vinicius is one of the players up-front who have made their case playing at the highest level with their clubs. Now is my job to fit them in my scheme.”

Given the upset results Argentina and Germany suffered against Saudi Arabia and Japan respectively, Tite would need to be wary of Serbia.

A rollicking start shall put Brazil on the path of another dream run.

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