Brazil qualified for the 2018 World Cup at a canter as they became the first side to book their place in Russia back in March 2017. Tite’s young team are an impressive outfit who have managed to combine aesthetically pleasing forward play with a robust defence. With the news of Ronaldinho’s retirement in January 2018, it got us wondering whether this current Brazil squad can rival the 2002 World Cup winning side.
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Brazil have been installed as 5/1 second favourites in Williamhill‘s 2018 World Cup outright market behind current holders Germany. They have a hugely talented squad and will be hoping emulate their predecessors who lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy 16 years ago in Yokohama. How do the two sides compare in each of the key positions?
Marcos played 29 times in total for his country. He kept four clean sheets in seven outings at the 2002 World Cup but was only voted third best keeper at the tournament. There was often a feeling that, with such a strong defence in front of him, Marcos got a relatively easy ride.
Roma’s Allisson is the current stopper and is seen as a relatively solid performer. He does have a mistake in him, however, and, with Manchester City’s Ederson breathing down his neck, there is no guarantee that he will start in Russia.
Conclusion: This is still a position that requires a reliable candidate and therefore remains marginally weaker than in 2002.
Brazil’s three-man defence worked well at the 2002 World Cup, although the jury is still very much out on the erratic Roque Junior. Edmilson was extremely handy going forward whilst Lucio was solid and good in the air. Scolari opted to play with wingbacks and, however good this current Brazil side became, they are unlikely to ever surpass the sheer majesty of Cafu and Roberto Carlos hugging the respective touchlines.
The current squad contains Marcelo, Marquinhos, Miranda, and Dani Alves. The latter is now 35 but is hugely dependable and a much-needed old head in this young side. Marquinhos and Miranda have formed a rock-solid partnership in the centre and they are going to be hard to breach.
Conclusion: The current back-line is stronger in the centre but far weaker on the flanks.
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Gilberto Silva and Kleberson played pivotal roles in both shielding the defence and launching attacks. The latter was a surprise late call-up replacing Emerson but they combined perfectly in the final against Germany and credit has to be given to the manager for a tactical masterstroke.
Paulinho is capable of the sublime but isn’t a player who will do the dirty work and that’s why Casemiro is such an important inclusion. The Real Madrid man is a pivotal performer and he should be able to shine in Russia.
Conclusion: If Casemiro maintains his recent standards, the current midfield slightly edges it.
Will any side ever be able to boast a front three more devastating than Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Ronaldinho? It’s highly unlikely. The trio were all Ballon d’Or winners and ran the show throughout the 2002 tournament. Ronaldo netted both goals in the final as the world watched in awe at the fluidity of this side.
Neymar is in terrific form and is scoring regularly for PSG. He is joined by the mercurial Phillipe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus, who has tremendous potential and is likely to bag a few goals at this tournament.
Conclusion: It was never an evenly matched contest. Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Ronaldinho are unlikely to ever be gazumped.
There is a positive feeling amongst Brazilian football fans ahead of the World Cup 2018, and their side are expected to progress to the latter stages of the competition. Tite is blessed with an enormously talented team but, unfortunately, they have a lot to live up to. They are stronger in some areas but perhaps lack the individual flair of the likes of Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, and Ronaldinho who regularly conjured up a moment of magic that could change a game.