Do not get excited.
Tite has announced a squad of 26 players for Brazil’s upcoming friendlies against Ghana and Tunisia in France. There were a few new faces, and one or two notable omissions. But if this squad is anything to go by, there will be no late surprises in Brazil’s World Cup squad, when that gets announced on 7 November.
Flamengo forward Pedro was rewarded for his fine club form with a place in this squad, while Matheus Cunha and Roberto Firmino were called up too. Surprisingly, there was no space for Gabriel Jesus, despite his excellent form for Arsenal so far this season.
Explaining Pedro’s inclusion, Tite noted that a player of his characteristics would be useful against teams that are hard to break down. Apparently a reference to his heading ability and how Brazil’s wingers could provide the service. Matheus Cunha was probably included for that reason too.
For Brazil afficionados and beautiful game enthusiasts, this is somewhat disappointing. Rather than placing his faith in creating something out of nothing thanks to players with exceptional close control and creativity – Tite was placing his faith in a more European approach: crosses and headers.
Gabriel Jesus could be the guy to find that spark. Neymar, Vini Junior and others can do that too – but will Tite play to their stregnths? Gabriel Jesus won’t be attempting that against Ghana or Tunisia, although most people believe that his place on the plane to Qatar is booked and Tite wants to use these friendlies to look at different options.
Uncapped centre backs Bremer and Ibañez were called up. It seems almost certain that Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Eder Militão will go to Qatar, but the fourth centre back spot remains open. No Gabriel Magalhães, surprisingly, perhaps. There was no also no place for Gabriel Martinelli or Philippe Coutinho.
There is weakness at fullback. Alex Sandro and Alex Telles were inlcuded, although the former is now injured and has been replaced by Renan Lodi. There was only one right back named: Danilo. Decent, but no Cafu. Think about him and Roberto Carlos with nostalgia.
Tite said that Dani Alves has a chance of going to Qatar, but he was left out of this squad since he has struggled with fitness and form at his new club Pumas in Mexico. He is 39 years old and clearly not the same player that he used to be, even if he can sort out those issues in time.
Tite explained that Eder Militão and Ibañez could play at right back if needed. But they are not Danilo, and certainly not Cafu. Another indication that supporters cannot hope for Brazil’s fullbacks to be bombing forward in the upcoming friendlies, or in Qatar.
Tite is a pragmatist, and after what happened four years ago in Russia, he is doubling down on pragmatism, not Brazilian flair.
Alisson – Liverpool
Ederson – Manchester City
Weverton – Palmeiras
Renan Lodi – Nottingham Forrest
Alex Telles – Sevilla
Danilo – Juventus
Bremer – Juventus
Eder Militão – Real Madrid
Ibañez – Roma
Marquinhos – Paris Saint Germain
Thiago Silva – Chelsea
Bruno Guimarães – Newcastle
Casemiro – Manchester United
Everton Ribeiro – Flamengo
Fabinho – Liverpool
Fred – Manchester United
Lucas Paquetá – West Ham United
Antony – Manchester United
Roberto Firmino – Liverpool
Matheus Cunha – Atlético de Madrid
Neymar Jr. – Paris Saint Germain
Pedro – Flamengo
Raphinha – Barcelona
Richarlison – Tottenham
Rodrygo – Real Madrid
Vinicius Jr. – Real Madrid