ANALYSIS - Rupert Fryer & Raisa Simplicio
When Tite sat down to announce his Brazil squad last week, a number of changes were expected to the settled squad that made up his side for the previous two years.
Fernandinho and Miranda, both 33, have been fine servants for the Selecao but, with a new era abound, their omissions caused few shockwaves.
Neither did those of most of the 10 World Cup 2018 squad members who were left behind.
Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson was left out at his own request due to personal circumstances and the absences Paulinho, Pedro Geromel, Taison, Danilo and Cassio caused little debate.
That Marcelo and Gabriel Jesus were not included, however, caused quite a stir. Both had played vital roles in Brazil's evolution under Tite.
So why were they left out? Below, Brasil Global Tour take a closer look at the theory behind a new-look Selecao.
HOW WILL BRAZIL MANAGE THIS NEW ERA?
Just 13 of the 23 Tite took to Russia have retained their places in the squad for the first of what technical coordinator Edu stressed were three distinct phases ahead of World Cup 2022: The short, medium and long-term.
The first phase begins now and runs until the end of December, during which there are six Brasil Global Tour friendlies. The next phase then takes Brazil through to the Copa America 2019, before the long-term plan kicks off post-Copa as Brazil look to qualify and prepare for World Cup 2022.
"The first phase will be about giving opportunities, that is the priority," Tite told a press conference. We can expect to see more new faces, then, in what will provide a rare opportunity for the coaching staff to test a number new players.
"Next year, it is about preparing for the Copa America," Tite added, meaning March 2019's Brasil Global Tour fixtures will provide a look at the core of the side that will contest the competition in June.
WHY WAS GABRIEL JESUS LEFT OUT OF THE BRAZIL SQUAD?
Few, if anyone, played a more important a role in Brazil’s rebirth under Tite than Gabriel Jesus. An untried teenager who had struggled desperately at centre-forward during the early parts of the Rio 2016 Olympics, the then Palmeiras starlet was a huge gamble when he was made Brazil’s no.9 for Tite’s debut in September 2016.
His pace and desire to run in behind defences saw the entire opposition retreat, which opened the field for Brazil’s inventive midfielders and, crucially, allowed the entre side to move some 20 yards up the field.
The Man City man became the Selecao’s youngest ever no.9 at a World Cup finals tournament, but failed to find the net in Russia as Brazil exited at the quarter-final stage to Belgium. With only Roberto Firmino – a nine-and-a-half who likes to play off the front-line – in reserve, questions were asked over whether they lacked a more traditional focal point.
Tite says he wants to try something different for the Brasil Global Tour deouble-header next month so has called on on 21-year-old Fluminense striker Pedro.
“This is Pedro’s time, as he is playing well,” said Tite. "He has different characteristics than Firmino and Jesus - he is more of a penalty-box striker." It remins likely that Gabriel Jesus will return for November's Brasil Global Tour dates, however. Keen to explore his options, Tite and his staff see little point in calling up both Firmino and Jesus, preferring to include one at a time during this period of experimentation in order to free up spaces to test new players.
WHY WAS MARCELO LEFT OUT OF THE BRAZIL SQUAD?
Tite has very clearly gone for a blend of youth and experience in his latest squad – in every position there is a newcomer competing with a senior international for a role in the side. Alex Sandro returned to the squad after missing out on the World Cup and, as it stands, could now be considered the long-term first-choice left-back as Brazil look to Qatar 2022. The Juventus man will then be 31-years-old, whereas Marcelo would head into the tournament aged 34.
There are also questions over whether Brazil can effectively continue with the trio who manned the left flank in Russia. The marauding Marcelo had Neymar ahead of him and Philippe Coutinho just inside. The lack of defensive cover on Brazil's left was singled out as a potential problem area for the Selecao prior to the tournament and it was exploited ruthlessly by Belgium in the first-half of their quarter-final as Kevin De Bruyne, in particular, found the time and space to have a major impact on the game.
33-year-old Filipe Luis has likely been retained as a nod to his performances in Russia and, perhaps, an admission from Tite that relegating him to the bench for Marcelo was a mistake. The same line of thinking could also have led to Renato Augusto place in the September squad – the midfield schemer was Tite’s eyes and ears on the pitch before losing his place in the side to Coutinho ahead of the World Cup and Brazil never looked as capable in possession, or in setting the tempo of games, once he was dropped to the bench.
Marcelo, however, could very well return for November's Brasil Global Tour dates, with Filipe Luis sitting out to make room for either Alex Sandro to remain or in order to trial a different left-back.
WHY WAS FABINHO NAMED AS A RIGHT-BACK?
Fabinho began his career as a right-back before Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim decided his skillset was better suited to a defensive midfield role. The 24-year-old starred at the base of the midfield in the Principality over the course of two seasons, quickly establishing himself as one of the finest young ‘Volantes’ in Europe.
His rise earned him a €50 million switch to English Premier League side Liverpool last month but Tite has called up Fabinho as a full-back, which raised eyebrows as onlookers noted that he hadn’t played in that position for some time. Tite revealed that he had spoke to Fabinho about returning to his previous role prior to last Friday’s squad announcement, and the player insisted he would have no issues in re-joining a back-four.
He will now battle with Corinthians’ Fagner for a starting role in a post-Dani Alves era. And Fabinho’s arrival is also a clear sign that Tite intends on continuing to use his full-backs as Pep Guardiola-esque de facto central midfielders – a ploy we saw at the World Cup when Tite had his full-backs stepping forward and moving in-field when Brazil were in possession and trying to break down stubborn opposition.
Fabinho, then, appears a logical choice at right-back ahead of a Copa America and World Cup qualification cycle in which Brazil will face a number of sides who will defend deep and look to attack only on the counter.
WHAT ABOUT RICHARLISON AND VINCIUS JUNIOR?
Both Vinicius Junior and Richarlison were once again name-checked by Tite in his squad conference. Barcelona’s Malcom, too, was mentioned. However, all three operate the position in which the Selecao have the most depth. While passing midfielders and natural no.9’s have been in scarce supply over recent years, Brazil is producing more wide-forwards than ever before.
However, with four more matches and two more squads following September’s friendless, the aforementioned trio are tipped to be given a chance before the end of the year, if not by March’s Brasil Global Tour dates.
17-year-old Santos forward Rodrygo, who has already agreed to follow Vinicius in a €45 million switch to Real Madrid, was also mentioned by Tite and he, too, can expect a call-up at some stage over the next six months or so. Tite also revealed that right-backs Marcinho of Botafogo and Porto's Eder Militao were in his thinking, putting pressure on Fabinho and Fagner to impress next month.