How Are Brazil Shaping Up for the 2018 World Cup?

A year is a long-time in football.

Even eight months can represent an age, as the current Brazilian squad can testify. Last summer, they were humiliated while being eliminated from the Copa America group stages, as a combination of turgid football, bad refereeing decisions and a lack of confidence cost them dear.

Since the pragmatic Carlos Dunga was replaced with Tite, however, Brazil have rediscovered their flair and even managed to become the first team to actively qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The question that remains is how far Brazil have progressed in 2017, and where do they stand in their quest for World Cup glory?

Heralding a New Look Brazil

The five-time world champions secured their passage with a 3-0 win over Paraguay in March, as they continued to showcase the form and flair that has returned to side since the arrival of Tite. Sporting a progressive 4-1-4-1 system, Tite has created a team that can transition superbly between attack and defence, while also introducing a number of younger players to compliment experienced campaigners such as Dani Alves and Paulinho.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the midfield and attacking third, where Real Madrid’s Casemiro, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus have introduced considerable pace and energy. With the talismanic Neymar and Bayern’s Douglas Costa also providing width and trickery on the flanks, Brazil have been able to dazzle team with movement and the precision of their passing.

In some respects, the speed of Brazil’s transition from ageing pragmatists to young cavaliers has provided as much of an adrenaline rush as a Royal Vegas casino game. The teams’ performances have also helped Brazil’s army of passionate fans to rediscover their love for the side, after the period of deep depression and unease that followed their humbling experience at the 2014 World Cup and slew of ponderous performances at elite level.

The Last Word: Why Brazil Are Keen Favourites for Russia 2018

With these points in mind, it is easy to understand why Brazil are currently 5/1 second favourites to win the World Cup (behind current champions Germany who are priced at 11/2). There is certainly a feel-good factor in Brazilian football at the moment, while the quality and balance of their squad will give most opposition a difficult time. The 2018 tournament may also provide a platform on which Neymar can prove his world class talent, as the Brazilian skipper looks to lead by example.

Interestingly, Brazil are scheduled to play Germany in a friendly in March next year, and this will give us a clear indication as to which side is in better shape. This game will also give the Samba stars a chance to finally exorcise the ghost of their 7-1 mauling at the hands of Germany in 2014, when the dreams of the nation were crushed by a shambolic Brazilian performance.

If they can slay these demons, it will represent another step in the rehabilitation of the Brazilian national side and could make them favourites for Russia 2018.

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