On Friday, Tite announced his latest Brazil squad that will contest World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Paraguay this month.
Disregarding January’s Chapecoense fundraising friendly against Colombia, that took part outside of an official FIFA international date and was restricted to domestic-based players, this was Tite's first squad of 2017.
For the first time since his June 2016 arrival, Tite and his staff have enjoyed an extended period observing those in contention, taking in a number of matches around Europe prior to selecting their 23.
There were four changes to the previous squad. Two were due to injury, with Gabriel Jesus and Rodrigo Caio facing spells on the sidelines. Flamengo goalkeeper Alex Muralha and Santos midfielder Lucas Lima were the only players dropped.
That created room for Real Madrid’s Casemiro to return, while Fla playmaker Diego, Benfica goalkeeper Ederson and Sport Recife striker Diego Souza were handed their first call-ups under the current coach. A late Douglas Costa injury saw him withdraw and be replaced by Palmeiras captain Dudu.
Below, we take a closer look at the four new faces ready to help cement Brazil’s place at Russia 2018.
At 23-years-old, Benfica’s Ederson is considered by many as the future of Brazilian goalkeeping. He has also ousted the old this season, relegating former Brazil star Julio Cesar to the bench in Lisbon.The youngster was previously called up by former coach Dunga for the Copa America Centenario but was forced to withdraw through injury.
He has emerged this season as one of the top young custodians in Europe and impressed Selecao goalkeeping coach Taffarel last month with a fine individual display as his side beat Dortmund 1-0 in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg. He also stopped a penalty in that game, diving to deny Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and has been heavily linked with a move to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City this summer. With current Brazil no.1 Alisson under pressure due to his lack of game-time at Roma in Italy, Ederson will be hoping to impress this month.
Diego returned to Brazil in August of last year after 12 years in European football and was an instant hit, leading the side’s title challenge as they pushed eventual winners Palmeiras for much of the campaign. In just over six months with Fla, the former Juventus man became one of the club’s leading scorers and has established himself as an on-field leader.
The 32-year-old has earned plaudits nationwide for his commitment to his physical fitness since coming home and impressed Tite in January’s friendly with Colombia. He has arrived to replace Santos man Lucas Lima. Diego will face an uphill battle to force his way into the first team but will certainly provide the Selecao with some added guile should they find themselves behind for the first time under the current coach.
DIEGO SOUZA (SPORT)
There were heavy reports in the local media in the run-up to last week’s squad announcement that Sport Recife striker Diego Souza would be called up to replace the injured Gabriel Jesus, but the 31-year-old remains the biggest surprise on Tite’s list.
Something of a journeyman, the former Fla, Fluminense, Palmerias, Atletico-MG and Cruzeiro man, who also had stints in Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine, was the joint top-scorer of last year’s Brasileirao with 14 goals. He also impressed the coaching staff in the match vs Colombia, and now faces a battle with Roberto Firmino to start as Brazil’s centre-forward this month. His call-up made him the first player from a North-Eastern club to make a World Cup qualifying squad since Leomar in 2001.
Captain of the 2016 Brazilian league winners, Palmeiras midfielder Dudu was one of the standout performers of the campaign. He returned home in 2014 after a spell in Ukraine with Dynamo Kiev, and he impressed with Gremio before making a permanent move to the Verdao a year later, instantly getting his career back on track. His only two caps for the Selecao arrived in 2011.
Quick, a fine dribbler and a strong defender, Dudu could be the sort of all-action, multifunctional midfielder to compete with Paulinho for the shuttling role in Tite’s midfield three, while he could also slot in anywhere along the attacking line. In excellent form, he is arguably the finest player in Brazil right now and will hope to get the chance to impress this month.