Excluding hosts Russia, five-time world champions Brazil were the first team to qualify for World Cup 2018.
The most decorated national team in football history, the Selecao are the only team to have competed in every edition since the tournaments formation in 1928.
This year, they will be looking to put breathing space between themselves and Italy and Germany, who each have four world titles.
Below, Brasil Global Tour look back at the evolution of this Brazil side under coach Tite and tell you everything you need to know about the favourites for Russia 2018.
HOW DID BRAZIL QUALIFY FOR WORLD CUP 2018?
After a stumbling start under previous coach Dunga, Brazil romped to qualification following the appointment of Tite in June 2016. The former Corinthians boss kicked off a new era with a 3-0 defeat of Ecuador in Quito, thanks to two goals from Gabriel Jesus on what was a dream debut for both coach and player.
The Selecao cemented their place well in advance of Russia 2018, securing qualification in March 2017 with four qualifiers to spare as Tite led them to eight consecutive victories.
WHO IS BRAZIL'S STAR PLAYER?
The most-expensive player in the game’s history, Neymar remains Brazil’s star player. However, Tite has successfully reduced the team’s reliance on the PSG man. ‘Neymardependencia’ became a buzz word for the Selecao from the 2013 Confederations Cup onwards, but this Brazil team have successfully integrated others into their attacking play. Centre-forward Gabriel Jesus is the top scorer under Tite with 9 goals, and midfielder Paulinho has matched Neymar’s total of 7 under the current coach. Philippe Coutinho has at last become a regular in the side and he has 5.
Regardless, Neymar will be vital to the Selecao’s chances of capturing their sixth world title. He will arrive in Russia during what should be his peak years and his long injury lay-off following foot surgery last month should also ensure he is well rested come June.
WHO IS THE BRAZIL COACH?
A long and successful domestic career saw Tite twice go close to landing the Brazil job before finally getting the gig in June 2016. After a relatively modest playing career, he made his way in coaching in in Southern Brazil before, first tasting the big time when he led Gremio to a Brazilian Cup in 2001. He claimed the Copa Sudamericana with Internacional seven years later – between two brief stints in the Middle East – before earning international prestige with Corinthians.
He took the Timao to the Brazilian league title in 2011 before cementing the club’s first ever Copa Libertadores title the following year, which he promptly followed up by seeing off Chelsea to win the Club World Cup.
Tite had always been a defensive-minded and conservative coach, with his Corinthians teams famously tasting Libertadores success with something akin to a 4-6-0 formation. But, after leaving the Timao in 2013, he took a year-long sabbatical to travel the world in order to further his understanding of the game and expand his tactical ideas.
He returned to Corinthians in 2015 and immediately led them to another Brazilian league title, this time with a considerably more attacking approach as he asked his side to press high and remain compact. Far and away the leading candidate for the role following Dunga’s dismissal after Copa America 2016, he was handed the Brazil job at the third time of asking.
WHO IS IN BRAZIL'S WORLD CUP SQUAD?
Tite has had a remarkably settled side during his two-years in the role. In fact, of the starting XI selected for his debut on the bench, until March only one player had lost his place in the team – Willian was replaced by Coutinho. Renato Augusto may now drop out of the first XI, with his place currently being contested by Willian and Fernandinho, while Thiago Silva could also have taken Marquinhos' place at the heart of the defence.
The only other change will take place at right-back after Dani Alves was forced out of the World Cup with a knee injury. Fagner of Corinthians and Danilo of Manchester City will now compete for that role.
The squad as a whole has been very settled. Earlier this year, Tite went as far as officially confirming 16 of the 23 players he will take the World Cup: The then starting XI of Alisson, Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Miranda, Marcelo, Casemiro, Paulinho, Renato Augusto, Coutinho, Neymar and Gabriel Jesus, and five substitutes, Ederson, Thiago Silva, Fernandinho, Willian and Roberto Firmino. March saw Douglas Costa and Shakhtar midfielder Fred secture their places in the squad and there would be no great surprises when Tite named his final 23 on March 14.
All 23 players who made the cut had called up had previously made Tite squads. Juventus' Alex Sandro would miss out to Filipe Luis for the role of reserve left-back, while Corinthians goalkeeper Cassio pipped Neto to be named third-choice goalkeeper. Gremio’s Pedro Geromel has won the race for the final reserve slot in central defence, but his team-mates Luan and Arthur missed out.
WHAT IS BRAZIL'S STARTING LINE-UP?
The team shown above has long been Tite's starting XI, however, March's friendlies saw Renato Augusto left out of both matches amid increasing speculation that he will be replaced long-term by Willian and/or Fernandinho. For matches against supposed weaker opposition who will set out to stifle with a low block, Tite could move Coutinho into central midfield and restore Willian to the right-side of his 4-1-4-1, as we saw against Russia in Moscow.
Against tougher teams who will press and seek to dominate possession, such as the recent match against Germany in Berlin, Fernandinho could be drafted in to add some solidity to the midfield and Willian would drop to the bench. Thiago Silva, meanwhile, surprisingly played both matches against Russia and Germany in March and is now a real contender to replace Marquinhos in the centre of defence.
The loss of Dani Alves is likely to see Corinthians full-back Fagner introduced at right-back, though Danilo will hope to prove he should start instead.
WHO AND WHEN DO BRAZIL PLAY?
The Selecao open their campaign against Switzerland in Rostov before meeting Costa Rica and Serbia.
|Date||Fixture||Venue||Kick-off time (local/UK)|
|June 17||Brazil v Switzerland||Rostov-on-Don||21:00/19:00|
|June 22||Brazil v Costa Rica||Saint Petersburg||15:00/13:00|
|June 27||Serbia v Brazil||Moscow - Spartak Stdm||21:00/19:00|
HOW WILL BRAZIL PREPARE FOR THE WORLD CUP?
Brazil boss Tite will announce his World Cup squad on May 14 with the players slated to arrive at the Granja Comary training complex in Teresopolis on May 21.
The Selecao will then face their final two warm-up matches as the Brasil Global Tour returns in June. They face Croatia at Anfield in Liverpool, England on June 3, before facing Austria in Vienna on June 10.
WHERE WILL BRAZIL STAY IN RUSSIA?
WHAT IS BRAZIL'S WORLD CUP RECORD?
|Year||Host||Brazil's finish||Round of exit|
|1990||Italy||9||Round of 16|