Just under four years ago, Brazil suffered the most humiliating defeat in the national team’s history, as Germany hammered Filipe Scolari’s team 7-1 in the World Cup semi-final in Belo Horizonte.
No doubt the team of 2014 were not a vintage edition. In fact, star player and icon Neymar seemed to be their only hope of winning the tournament on home soil.
When the Selecao’s talisman picked up an injury in the quarter-final win over Colombia it was a devastating blow to Scolari’s team. Neymar’s absence was not the reason for that terrible capitulation against Germany. However, his presence will maybe have made the German’s play with slightly less confidence.
Brazil not dependent on Neymar anymore
Fast forward four years and Neymar is still the star of the show for Brazil. However, boss Tite has played it cleverly with the PSG star, by making sure that he buys into the team ethic and it is not all about being an individual.
It seems that the forward has accepted the stance and the team is performing far better for the fact. Brazil are not just stronger because of Neymar’s slightly less individual approach, but because the team simply has more quality.
Brazil now have players in their prime, such as Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and goalkeeper Alisson. That is before we talk about first-choice striker Gabriel Jesus, who Tite promoted to the national side with great success.
Not just a talented strike-force
When most people think of the current Brazilian side they will think of their attacking strength, the skill and guile of Neymar, Coutinho, Jesus, Firmino and Willian.
However, Brazil has experience and quality throughout their squad. In the aforementioned Alisson, they have arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the world at this moment in time.
The 25-year-old has reportedly attracted the interest of Real Madrid and Liverpool among other with his dazzling displays in between the sticks for Roma this season.
He is a player at the top of his powers, in a position that Brazilians are not usually renowned for being great in. Brazil have not just got one very talented goalkeeper, they have two.
Alisson’s backup in Russia will be Manchester City stopper Ederson, who has been fighting it out with the Roma for the number one shirt.
Ahead of Alisson is the talent and experience of the likes of Marquinhos, Marcelo, Miranda and Danilo. The likes of Felipe Luis and Thiago Silva also offer Tite immense backline options. The Brazilian defence is full of know-how, even without the injured Dani Alves.
The Selecao midfield options are not too shabby either. A trio of Casemiro, Paulinho and Renato Augusto offers all the ingredients a good midfield needs, tough tackling, skill and intelligence.
The fact that the likes of Manchester City’s Fernandinho and Manchester United new boy Fred may start the campaign on the substitute bench illustrates the quality available to the Brazilian boss this summer.
Will always be one of the favourites
Brazil will always be one of the favourites to lift international trophies, just because of their heritage and history of producing fantastic teams in the past. In truth, the Selecao have had good, bad and ugly teams at major tournaments in the past.
The current edition is definitely of the good variety. Unsurprisingly, Brazil are favourites to win the World Cup at odds of 4/1. Those odds are down to the quality in the squad and their juggernaut-like form towards the end of qualifying.
Much is expected of the Selecao in Russia. However, four years ago showed that you just never know what you will get with the South American giants.
The current Brazilian set-up is a million miles away from the team humiliated on home soil four years ago. For one Tite seems to be a highly astute boss, who has managed to bring the best out of a talented group of players.
The former Corinthians boss is a big fan of European football. He has moulded his team from a mixture of European defensive stability and Brazilian flair. This has brought the team success in qualifying.
Only time will tell if the Selecao can be successful in Russia. However, one thing is for sure, they are no longer a one-man team. Neymar may still prove to be the star one, but the supporting cast is not bad either.