When Brazil face Uruguay in Montevideo on Thursday, there will be just two changes to the team sheet from coach Tite’s first game in charge. Roberto Firmino will replace the injured Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho will feature in place of Willian.
Willian was Brazil’s most consistent performer, and arguably their best player overall, for the two years between World Cup 2014 and Dunga’s sacking in the summer of last year, but he lost his role in the side after his form dropped during what was an extremely difficult period for the Chelsea man off the pitch.
Since Brazil coach Tite’s June 2016 appointment, Willian is the only player to have lost his place due to anything other than injury or suspension.
There has, however, been increasing calls to more closely examine the position of goalkeeper. Alisson has started all six qualifiers under Tite and is expected to retain his place for the clash with Uruguay, but his serious lack of minutes with Roma have called his place into question.
Particularly due to the fine form of Benfica’s Ederson, one of four new faces in the squad. The 23-year-old has earned his first call-up under the current boss after an impressive last 12 months in Lisbon. This past weekend, he made his 50th appearance for the Portuguese giants.
It’s been quite a rise for a young goalkeeper who just months previously was little more than a backup to the last great Brazilian goalkeeper, Julio Cesar. "Benfica always believed in him, but Julio Cesar was right there, on a huge salary,” wrote Goal’s Bruno Andrade from Lisbon.
“But then an injury saw Ederson thrown into the firing line vs Sporting… Julio Cesar is now on the bench.
"Last season he played only the final stages now he is an absolute starter. The press likes him very much, every newspaper here is now discussing whether he will be sold for more than €40 million and whether he will join Manchester City or Barcelona.”
A perceived lack of speed off his line, inaccuracy with his kicking, and issues with deep crosses into his box are the main criticisms levelled at Alisson, though few would guarantee Ederson ticks all those boxes and more.
But, despite his fine form for the Selecao, Alisson is man under a little bit of pressure and will be well aware that any error will automatically be attributed to his lack of first-team football for his club.
And Atletico PR’s Weverton will be desperate to apply further pressure. "Weverton is at the top of the list of the best goalkeepers in the country right now,” says Globo’s Fernando Freire.
“He shone, for example, in the 2014 Copa do Brasil, in the 2014 Libertadores and in Brasileirao 2016. For four years, he has worked tirelessly, and achieved his dream of being an international.
“And one advantage he has over Alisson is his regular first-team football. He has been playing both in the Libertadores and state championship, despite the club using a reserve side for the latter competition. Weverton requested to play in both competitions so he can keep his rhythm and maintain his form.”
Weverton, who helped Brazil to a goal medal at the Rio Olympics last year, also had a chance to impress Tite in January’s friendly win over Colombia, keeping a clean sheet as a domestic-based Brazil side earned a 1-0 victory.
Regardless, Alisson will very likely keep his place this month. But for how long?
“I like Weverton and Alisson very much, but I think Ederson deserved to be the starter,” says Bruno. “Alisson is a reserve in Rome, Weverton is great at Atletico-PR, he's a very good goalkeeper, but Ederson is the future.”