On Friday, Brazil will discover exactly who they are set to face in the Group stages of next year’s World Cup, when the official draw takes place in Moscow.
The five-time world champions eventually romped to qualification, topping the group and setting a whole host of records along the way. Their place in Russia was secured with four matches to spare, the culmination of a dramatic changes in fortunes under new coach Tite.
Brazil kicked off the campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Chile, the reigning continental champions. It ended with a relatively routine 3-0 victory over the same team, Brazil almost unrecognisable from opening day to closing.
Back in August, 2015, Brazil took to the field with the then seemingly immovable Jefferson in goal.
The Botafogo man had been in good form over the previous year, and was Dunga’s clear No.1 between the posts. A perceived ‘mistake’ for one of the Chile goals, however, proved the beginning of the end for him. Alisson replaced him and has remained ever since.
In the back four, only David Luiz from that side has lost his place. The other three from the defence, Dani Alves, Miranda and Marcelo, are all first choice today. Marquinhos has since replaced David Luiz, just as he did that evening in Santiago as a substitute.
It is further forward where all the big chances have taken place. Of the six other players, only Willian remains a regular with Tite.
Luiz Gustavo has never been called up by Tite, and Elias, Oscar and Hulk are not currently in his plans.
Douglas Costa has just returned and is now fighting to make it to Russia as a substitute. It is worth noting that Neymar was suspended for the game with Chile.
Fernandinho and Renato Augusto are the only other players among the substitutes against Chile who remain in Tite’s preferred squad.