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Group G: Are Brazil Destined for World Cup Glory?

Thursday marks the end of the first batch of group games at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as pre-tournament favourites Brazil are in action against Serbia at the Lusail Stadium.

It has been 20 years since the ultimate World Cup team were last crowned the pinnacle of world football. At the time, Brazil were at the peak of their powers and flooded by generational talents. The South Americans won two World Cups out of three from 1994 to 2002, ending runners-up to France in 1998.

Not only have the Brazilians won the most world titles (5), they are also the only country to have featured at every World Cup finals since its inception 92 years ago.

Cafu holds the FIFA World Cup trophy following the 2002 Final against Germany.
(Photo: Getty Images)

Cafu, Ronaldo Nazário, Roberto Carlos, Rivaldo, Kaká, Ronaldinho and the likes were all part of the megateam, coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari, which defeated Germany, 2-0 in the 2002 World Cup final.

Two decades later, Brazil remain the most decorated team in international football. However, this is the fifth edition of the World Cup since the men in yellow became champions of the world for a fifth time.

Brazil’s squad for this World Cup is aged 28,5 years, on average, with several younger players selected for a maiden World Cup experience. A first appearance on the global stage awaits 15 of 23 outfield players selected by head coach Tite.

At the attacking end of the pitch, Tite is spoilt for choice and the Brazil head coach has selected twice as many forwards as midfield players for the World Cup. Neymar, Vinícius Junior, Rodrygo, Richarlison, Raphinha, Antony, Gabriel Jesus, and Gabriel Martinelli are all in the mix at Qatar 2022.

Neymar and Viní have scored a combined 23 goals this season in the Champions League and their respective domestic leagues, though it will be tough to fit the two of them into the Brazil XI with both individuals primarily occupying the left side of the frontline.

In the past couple seasons, Viní has emrged as an important figure within the Real Madrid set-up and he was their hero in the Champions League final earlier this year, scoring the decisive goal as Los Blancos were crowned European champions for a record 14th time.

The years have crept up on Neymar, 30, who is far closer to the end of his playing career than its beginning. In all likelihood, this will be a last hurrah at the World Cup finals for the Sao Paulo-born star and it is now or never for him to dwell in World Cup glory.

This season the Paris St-Germain forward has been in top form, contributing 11 goals and nine assists in Ligue 1; no player has been directly involved in more goals in the French top flight.

Neymar is two goals shy of the legendary Pelé, who scored 77 goals for the national team, while only three players have donned Brazil’s colours more times than his 121 outings for the Seleção: Cafu (142), Roberto Carlos (125), and Dani Alves (124).

Neymar is among Brazil royalty.
(Photo: Getty Images)

Brazil’s five-man midfield contingent is based exclusively in the English Premier League. Casemiro, Fabinho, Fred, Bruno Guimarães, and Lucas Paquetá are at Tite’s disposal and, no matter which combination the coach selects, there is a guarantee of world-class quality.

Seleção stalwarts Alves and Thiago Silva have been called up to a World Cup tournament for a third and fourth time, respectively. At 39 years-old, Alves could become the oldest outfield player to appear for Brazil at the World Cup.

Brazil’s other full-backs are Danilo, Alex Sandro, and Alex Telles. Also in central defence are Marquinhos, Eder Militão, and Bremer. In goal, Alisson and Ederson continue to battle for the #1 jersey at national level with both competitors among the best keepers in world football.

The last time the men in yellow lost their opening match at the World Cup finals was back in 1934, the second edition of the tournament.

Brazil are 3.75 favourites to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and the younger squad members ought to stamp their mark in the nation’s rich history on the world stage.

Brazil are 1.45 to start their World Cup campaign with victory; Serbia are 7.00 to win; 4.50 for a draw. Neymar is the leading contender to score in this contest, with odds of 4.75 to score the first goal or 2.25 to find the net anytime. (Bet365)

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