Brazil—World Cup 2022 profile—29
Today, with Brazil, we continue, in reverse alphabetical order, to provide the profiles of the 32 teams which qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
A Selecao are the only team to have participated in every World Cup—Qatar 2022 will be their twenty-second appearance. Brazil have left the cup at the group stage or Round of 16 twice each, otherwise they have won the cup five times, came in second, third, and fourth twice each, and left at the quarterfinals six times. The Brazilian team is the overall favorite to win the 2022 World Cup.
Placed in Group G with Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon, the Canarinha (little canary, a reference to the universally known, classic yellow Brazilian jersey) expect to move on as group winners with ease while exacting some measure of revenge upon their two European opponents who gave them a hard time at the 2018 World Cup. Papa believes their progression to the next round is assured. Brazil’s home kit is a canary yellow shirt with green and blue highlights around the collar and sleeves, blue shorts, and white socks with the same highlights and their away kit is a blue shirt with green highlights, white shorts with blue highlights, and blue socks with green highlights.
Brazil, a nation bigger than the continental USA, was inhabited over 11,000 years ago. It has the greatest biodiversity of any country, the second (to Australia) most beaches in the world, is the 5th largest county (3.3M square miles) by area on the planet, is the 7th most populous nation (214M) in the globe and has the 9th largest military. It is also the longest country in the world and the only one that has the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn running through it. Given its size, the nation encompasses six climatic subtypes yet has a mild all-year climate that averages 77F and never drops much below 64F in the higher altitudes. The Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) made all of Brazil Portuguese territory and it was not until 1825 that the country’s independence was recognized, and it was in 1988 that its current constitution was ratified making the nation a federal presidential constitutional republic.
The United States of Brazil, as the nation is officially known, has a GDP of $3.7T, an HDI score of 0.75 (high), is 89% Christian, 48% White, 43% mixed race, and 8% black. Brazilians speak Portuguese, and their culture is internationally recognized—from their classic Carnival celebrations with Samba dancing, to their feijoada (rice and black bean stew), caipirinhas, and fantastic coffee, to their Capoeira (a dance which slaves used to practice that masked a martial art), to bossa nova music, to cinema and television that regularly appears on Netflix, to some of the best athletes in the world in many different sports, to some of the most beautiful humans on the planet via multiracial intermarriages.
Brazil has given us more world-renowned soccer players than any other country beginning with the GOAT, Pele, and also, Machado de Assis, Ipanema Beach, Sugarloaf Mountain, Cristo de Corcovado, Guanabara Bay, Iguacu Falls, the Amazon River, and Jungle, Oscar Niemeyer, Paulo Coelho, Santos Dumont, Paulo Freire, Ayrton Senna, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Gisele Bundchen, Ana Beatriz Barros, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Isabeli Fontana.
Squad (which may change before the cup given injuries, form, and coaching choices—teams mentioned are subject to change given transfers): Goalkeepers—Alisson Becker (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), and Weverton (Palmeiras); Defenders— Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Marquinhos (PSG), Danilo (Juventus), Alex Telles (Manchester United), Alex Sandro (Juventus), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Bremer (Juventus), and Ibañez (Roma); Midfielders— Bruno Guimarães (Newcastle), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon), Fabinho (Liverpool), Fred (Manchester United), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Philippe Coutinho (Aston Villa), and Arthur (Liverpool); Strikers—Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli (both Arsenal), Gabriel Barbosa (Flamengo), Neymar (PSG), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid), Antony (Manchester United), Richarlison (Tottenham), Raphinha (Barcelona), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid), and Pedro (Flamengo).
Path to Qatar
Brazil breezed through the grueling 18-match CONMEBOL qualifiers undefeated and with a +45-goal differential, six points, and +16-goals ahead of second-placed Argentina. To put the team’s overall recent historical performance in perspective, the Brazilians have lost two competitive games since being eliminated by Belgium in Russia’s World Cup (July 2018) and their previous loss was in 2016—over those six years, under their current coach, Tite, they have gone without a loss in 40 out of 42 competitive matches played, or a 95% unbeaten rate.
Brazil under Tite play a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-1-2 where the one is always Neymar. The team presses high, maintains the majority of ball possession against the majority of its opponents, attacks constantly, and has a world-class defense.
The team’s indispensable talisman is Neymar (other than fellow Qatar-bound peers Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Kylian Mbappe, the most exciting and singularly talented player on the planet), but their roster reads like a who’s who of world soccer. Imagine that as a coach you can choose from Alisson, Ederson, or Weverton in goal, Marquinhos, Militao, and/or Thiago Silva as defenders, Alex Sandro, Alex Telles, and/or Danilo as wingbacks, Casemiro, Fabinho, and/or Fred as defensive midfielders, Arthur, Coutinho, and/or Paqueta as offensive midfielders, Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison, Raphina, and/or Vinicius Jr., as strikers, and Neymar as the on-field leader. Only France, Portugal, Argentina, and Germany are the other teams on the globe than can boast such richness of talent at every position and only the first two can do so at Brazil’s level.
Group and Tourney Prospects
Brazil, if Neymar can keep out of trouble, and if Tite can pick the right lineups, will win this world cup. If Neymar can curb his antics (not his diving, for Papa believes at least half of his writhing is due to being physically abused on the pitch, but instead curb his penchants for arguing with everyone and for petty retributions for every ill suffered), then his supporting cast is finally at a level to complement him and together, barring injury, they can go all the way. But Tite has to do his part too and not pick favorites who are out of form or choose not to bring true and tried performers because another player who plays the same position is currently more popular. If Brazil use their best lineup for each given game, and Neymar keeps his focus, Brazil becomes the World Cup’s only sixth-time champion.
Photo: Brazil’s Neymar Shutterstock ID: 1136319017, by Dokshin Vlad