While most of Tite’s picks for the final World Cup qualifiers were fairly predictable, there was one choice that came out of the blue for Brazil fans
With every new Brazil call-up, we are witnessing an extremely awkward pick from the manager. In Tite’s recent press conference, where he announced the squad for the final two World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia and Chile in October, the case was no different.
The name of the odd entry this time is 32-year old Shandong Luneng star Diego Tardelli, whose last competitive game for the Seleção was in 2015. So, what are the yays and nays of Adenor Bacchi’s latest list?
In the goalkeeping sector, Tite retained Alisson, Ederson and Cassio. Alisson was excellent for Roma in their Champions League tie against Atlético Madrid while Ederson’s presence is justified due to the fact that he is performing for one of the strongest sides in Europe at the moment. Many were left in shock at the decision to choose Corinthians goalkeeper Cassio over Vanderlei. The Santos-man has easily been the best goalkeeper in the Brazilian league. It is a matter of justice, so that the players who perform, actually feel that their efforts are being rewarded.
Moving on to the backline and Dani Alves and Danilo making the squad was not a surprise. On the left-hand side, Marcelo’s presence is never questionable, however picking Filipe Luis over Alex Sandro could be seen as slightly controversial by the hipsters. In central defense, the inclusion of Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, João Miranda and Jemerson together means that the best quartet has made it. Most fans will be hoping to see the Paris Saint Germain duo pairing-up during the games.
In midfield, Tite has brought us a positive surprise. For once, the manager has followed the popular trend and has given Arthur a much-deserved chance. The 21-year-old has been essential in Grêmio’s plans this season. The Rio Grande do Sul-based side is second to Corinthians in the league standings, and is competing for a ticket to the semi-final of the Copa Libertadores, with compatriots Botafogo. In both competitions, the rising talent, who is often referred to as the Brazilian Iniesta, has consistently performed at the highest level.
Meanwhile, Shakhtar midfield star Fred makes his comeback to the national team for the first time since 2015. His return is far from unjustified. And although most fans were unhappy seeing his name, they could not have been more wrong. He is being judged because of his mediocre performance in Copa América 2015 when Dunga was in charge and when the whole team was a letdown. However, Fred is 24-years-old today, more mature and more prepared for the challenge.
The list also featured Diego Ribas, and while his presence could be considered a fairy-tale story by some nostalgic admirers, the truth is that, even Flamengo fans were shocked to see his name, as he has been in poor form of late.
And last but not least, it is time to assess the front line, featuring the mother of all bombs, Diego Tardelli. Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and even Roberto Firmino, are all considered locks in the 23-man squad, but Tite decided to rely on a 24th player this time-around, as Dani Alves will miss the upcoming fixture against Bolivia due to suspension. So by CONMEBOL rules, adding one extra name was a viable option.
Tite has been doing a convincing job in charge, as Brazil has already guaranteed, not just qualification, but also finishing on top of the table. With that in mind, you have give the benefit of the doubt for the 2012 Libertadores winner, who is experienced enough in South American footballing matters. Away at high altitude in La Paz, at more than 3600 feet above sea level, where Lionel Messi’s Argentina famously lost 6-1 in a qualifier in 2009, it was not completely discarded that Adenor Bacchi puts his past-experience into good use by taking extreme measures.
Tite himself is a long-time admirer of Diego, and did not hide it during his press conference, as he reminded Brazilian journalists how the former Atlético Mineiro star always shone in past meetings during his time in charge at Corinthians, adding that Diego has scored 11 goals in his last 13 appearances, in China.
Being the manager of Brazil’s national team in World Cup season, is a bigger dream for local managers than even taking charge of Real Madrid or Barcelona. But besides having the best job in the world, Tite has the most nerve-wrecking one. Prior to World Cup 2002, as he went against the general public and dropped Romário for Ronaldo, Luiz Felipe Scolari famously stated that there are 200 million managers in Brazil, where every one of them would have selected a different squad.
That statement was truly on point, as no one can ever convince the whole crowd. But with that said, there are always some obvious picks that people have been calling for, such as Vanderlei and Fabinho. At the end of the journey, the results that Tite’s men will bring, come Russia 2018, will be the determining factor.