There no new faces, with not a single first-time call-up under the current boss, but there were a few mild surprises – most notably the introduction of Alex Sandro as a direct replacement for Filipe Luis.
Real Madrid’s Marcelo remains first-choice, but ever since Tite’s June 2016 arrival, Ateltico’s Filipe Luis has been his first reserve. It was an inverse from the situation on that side of the defence under previous coach Dunga, and one that appeared unlikely to change.
Only 13 players had racked up more minutes on the field than Filipe Luis (450) under Tite and the former Chelsea man was even given the captain’s armband against Venezuela in an October 2016 World Cup qualifier
Filipe Luis was seen to offer less attacking thrust than Marcelo, but greater defensive solidity, seemingly making him the perfect reserve.
However, all that seems to have changed after Juventus man Alex Sandro impressed last month against Bolivia and Chile after injuries to Filipe Luis and Marcelo.
Strong, athletic, and having improved defensively since his 2015 switch to Italy, former Santos and Porto man Alex Sandro is seen by the coaching staff as a happy mix between the two who previously left him on the outside looking in.
Indeed, with Corinthians’ Fagner now having been overlooked twice for Manchester City’s Danilo for the role of reserve right-back, we appear to have the first two major casualties among what has been an increasingly settled squad under the current boss.
"Fagner and Filipe Luis have lost their places because they are not injured this time, but Tite was delighted with Alex Sandro because he can be Marcelo or Filipe Luis,” Fox Sports Brasil’s Leandro Quessada told Brasil Global Tour.
Globo’s Alexandre Lozetti, meanwhile, said Tite already knows Filipe Luis very well and now just wants to look more closely at Alex Sandro to be able to choose one or the other for June’s World Cup.
"I think that position really raises a question,” said Lozetti. “Tite always liked Alex Sandro but it was difficult to get past Marcelo or Filipe, but they got injured and Alex Sandro did well. I do not know if Alex Sandro is in front of Filipe just yet, but he clearly wants to have more time with Alex Sandro so he can make a decision.”
26-year-old Alex Sandro has shone frequently in Turin and was heavily linked with a mega-money to the English Premier League this past European summer. And his stock continues to rise.
With two more games to go after November’s Brasil Global Tour double-header with Japan and England, it appears the Juve man now has an unexpected chance of booking his ticket to Russia.