Despite a World Cup flop, Brazil is enjoying one of its deepest talent pools in years – so who has made the best XI of the year for the Selecao?
2018 has been a difficult year for Brazil’s national team with the World Cup failure. But Brazilian football currently possesses its best talent pool in years. So, who have been the best 11 Brazilian footballers in their respective positions, in this calendar year? Here are my picks to fit Tite’s current 4-1-4-1
Goalkeeper: Alisson Becker, Liverpool
Alisson was named the best shot-stopper in the Italian league in his only season as a starter for Roma. The 26-year old defended his country’s colors in Russia as the first-choice goalkeeper, and was not the culprit in the quarter-final elimination against Belgium. Following his move to Liverpool, he has statistically been the best goalkeeper in the league with 11 clean sheets.
Right back: Fabinho, Liverpool
Fabinho is currently operating as a midfielder with Liverpool, and has been brilliant in this role. But he began his career as a right-back, and this is the position in which Tite has been using him for Brazil. It is a shame, though, that the best right-back in 2018 is someone who prefers to play in another position. Here’s hoping a new star emerges in 2019.
Centre-backs: Thiago Silva and João Miranda, Paris Saint Germain and Internazionale
It could not have been any different than these two. They formed a very solid defensive partnership in the World Cup and were constantly two of Brazil’s best performers. They will certainly be missed in 2022 but there is always hope of ending their national team career with triumph in the upcoming Copa América on home soil.
Left-back: Marcelo, Real Madrid
There are many candidates for this position, but the winner is always Marcelo. Criticized for Belgium’s second goal in Russia, but he was not the main culprit in my opinion, as Fernandinho should have committed a tactical foul against Romelu Lukaku.
Marcelo was still one of Brazil’s essential offensive threats, but admittedly did struggle in counter-attacks. What he did to help Real Madrid win their third Champions League in a row has to be taken into consideration as it means that no Brazilian fullback has had a more successful year.
Defensive midfielder: Casemiro, Real Madrid
Casemiro was among Brazil’s best three players in the World Cup. His absence against Belgium clearly an essential reason as to why the national team was eliminated. His replacement Fernandinho was a massive letdown, and even scored a costly own goal. The tank played an important role in helping Real Madrid win their 13th European Cup title.
Central midfielders: Allan and Coutinho, Napoli and Barcelona
Allan has been one of the best, if not the best at his position in the Italian league, and has put in performances to back this opinion in the Champions League, against the likes of PSG and Liverpool. Meanwhile Coutinho had a very important role for Brazil, scoring two goals and providing two assists at the World Cup.
Right-wing: Douglas Costa, Juventus
It would be easy to forget Douglas because of the way the last three months of the year has ended for him, but a calendar year is about 12 whole months, and from this perspective, he just has to make this list for his strong performances for Juventus in the second half of last season, as well as for his very inspiring displays for Brazil in Russia. He was a clear upgrade over a very incompetent Willian.
Left-wing: Neymar, Paris Saint Germain
Neymar JR is currently the best Brazilian playing, and despite a rather disappointing World Cup tournament for him where he failed to make the difference in the decisive game against Belgium, many would put that down to the fact that he had not completely recovered from injury. Neymar still guided PSG in the group stage of the Champions League, helping them end on top ahead of Liverpool and Napoli.
Striker: Roberto Firmino, Liverpool
Firmino’s start to the new season has not been as flashy, but he was absolutely outstanding for the Reds last season, making the difference in the Champions League in important games such as the encounter against Roma. Bobby has managed to adapted to a new function this season, playing deeper and sacrificing individual statistics. He is a key part of a Liverpool side that is top of the league. Brazil boss Tite has recently publicly admitted that Roberto should have started in the World Cup ahead of Gabriel Jesus.