Are Brazil on the path back to football greatness?

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In the not too distant past, only one team seemed to dominate the international scene.

The only nation that has known football like no other, played in its beautiful diversity by an endless array of stars.

Brazil was the team to beat, and for many, Brazil remains the “team” to beat when it comes to the major World Cup competition.

But what about the men in the famous yellow jersey, who haven’t won the biggest prize in football in a whole eighteen years, and we’re still on the rise.

Brazil builds the future - the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is in their sights

Brazil builds the future – the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is in their sights

We don’t seem to hear – or talk – as much about bright Brazilians as we used to. Some of the Premier League’s biggest stars hail from the South American country, but progress on the international stage has been scant.

Was a new era slowly taking shape, or did we have a case of a disintegrated team caught in the awkward midst of aging superstars and an over-reliance on certain individuals? Sportsmail Take a deeper look…

reliable old?

When it comes to top players, Brazil mainly wrote the script.

The yellow jersey has been worn by some of the most famous names in world football history, many of them serving for the national team in the twilights.

Right now, we’re seeing a similar case unfold with Thiago Silva.

Thiago Silva (left) is loved by his teammates and fans alike, although he is now 36 years old.

Thiago Silva (left) is loved by his teammates and fans alike, although he is now 36 years old.

For many, the hardcore center back has been synonymous with Brazil for what feels like forever.

After breaking into the world football arena as a talented youngster early on, Silva was a mainstay in the Brazilian national team and never left.

Now 36, it’s likely to raise some concern that the Selecao are still relying on their defensive leader.

Next to his former Paris Saint-Germain teammate Marquinhos, Silva continued to fend off opponents due to his central defensive position, even as players like Real Madrid star Edir Militao knocked on the door.

Sometimes, of course, the old guard can’t be beaten. But is Brazil preparing to fall?

Silva has garnered much praise since his summer move to Chelsea, although for his final moments of loss, he has also been paired with humiliating howls and a blatant aptitude for blunt pace.

Brazil have some important decisions about their captain, who will be 38 at the next World Cup

Brazil have some important decisions about their captain, who will be 38 at the next World Cup

Silva will be 38 by the time of the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Brazil, perhaps more than most teams in the competition, will yearn to reclaim the old trophy.

So a long-term plan with Silva can have a much greater impact than people think. Director Titi has some big decisions to make.

It’s never going to be easy when the player in question is your captain, national legend, and sweetheart, but if a transition does happen, it has to start now.

Neymar puzzle

Over the past decade, one couldn’t talk about Brazil without mentioning – or at least thinking right away – Neymar.

The mercurial striker is Brazil and Brazil is Neymar. The Paris Saint-Germain superstar loves his country and has many tattoos injected under his skin to prove it.

During the 2014 World Cup on home soil, an extraordinary amount of pressure was put on Neymar’s shoulders, which is absurd.

For some time now, Brazil has had trouble with its continued over-reliance on Neymar

For some time now, Brazil has had trouble with its continued over-reliance on Neymar

And it’s safe to say that he, remarkably, took it his way. It was until an injury in the final stages of the tournament shattered his dreams and dreams. Brazil, in turn, was wiped out by Germany and hasn’t looked the same since.

What followed were several years for one of the world’s most famous footballing nations clinging to its incantations like a sailor lost in a life jacket.

It was all about Neymar, with the team built around him and players selected depending on how he promoted his game, rather than solely on their own merits.

The results were picked up and this worked for a while…until it simply stopped.

The key that was thrown into gears arrived in the form of Neymar’s injury record. Season after season of kicks and feints, keeping the striker away from key matches often forces a decision-making between club and country.

The PSG star's injury record is turbulent, which means he's missing for extended periods

The PSG star’s injury record is turbulent, which means he’s missing for extended periods

Over the past few seasons, it hasn’t been uncommon to see Neymar lose long stretches of time to PSG, only to recover in perfect timing for national duty. It seems that allegiances have been settled.

However, something strange happened during one of Neymar’s big deletes. Or rather, something that was not at all strange, but familiar … Brazil won the title.

In 2019, Brazil was hosting the duty again, this time with the Copa America.

Neymar is out, after he tore his ankle ligaments while playing in a controversial friendly between Brazil and Qatar. There was an uproar, at first, as Golden Boy prepared to miss the event again.

Then there was calm. Calm seeing how Tite was able to spread his team in the absence of Neymar, playing high pressure football without only focusing on a specific star.

Recent history tells us that Brazil has won more than just a trophy from this tournament, a belief that it can return to its former glory without relying on a single man.

The recent 5-0 World Cup qualifier victory over Bolivia in October was the same, and now goals and responsibilities are shared. Perhaps a sign of the future?

In Neymar's absence, Brazil seemed somewhat freer, winning the Copa America

In Neymar’s absence, Brazil seemed somewhat freer, winning the Copa America

fresh blood

As a country, Brazil will not suffer from a lack of football talent.

Each generation brings its gems with it, and the current crop of upcoming starlets is as promising as ever.

Given that Brazil has finally stopped wrestling with the Neymar puzzle, this can only bode well.

The Copa America final saw the likes of Everton Soares shine in the spotlight, while the tournament itself was made by Richarlison as a well-established international in the yellow jersey.

In Rodrygo Goes, Brazil has one of the hottest teenagers in world football

In Rodrygo Goes, Brazil has one of the hottest teenagers in world football

At the moment, Brazil has an impressive array of talent just waiting to impose itself on the big stage.

In 19-year-old Rodrygo Goes, Selecao has a player he feels can surpass Neymar’s heights and become a leading light in future eras.

Real Madrid weren’t batting an eyelid when they paid the best part of £50m to sign Rodrygo as a little-known 17-year-old from Santos. There is a buzz around the young man, and Madrid simply could not miss the opportunity.

Rodrygo was called up to the top ranks for the first time in November, as Brazil suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to Argentina in a friendly match.

In the same aspect, Brazil’s squad has enjoyed a wealth of exciting youngsters, including Lyon’s Lucas Paqueta and Atletico Madrid’s Renan Lodi. The latter is widely seen as Marcelo’s long-term successor.

In other teams, Brazil mourned Wesley Moraes, Gabriel Menino, Bruno GuimarĂ£es and Pedro, the miracle of Santos. Not to mention another star for Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior.

In recent years, Richarlison has been offered the opportunity to prove himself in the yellow jersey

In recent years, Richarlison has been offered the opportunity to prove himself in the yellow jersey

silverware beckons?

Over the past couple of years, Brazil has had a strange habit of not looking good at all, delivering results as they have progressed.

This, of course, is a sign of the elite side. Which certainly bodes well.

In nine competitive matches since their World Cup Russia 2018 exit in the quarter-finals against Belgium, Brazil have won eight matches and drawn one. It makes reading impressive.

Within this group of victories sits the winning half of the Copa America final, but since the Brazilian national team continued its momentum at the professional level, and what appears to be easy, as it managed to beat the teams in the qualifying stage for the World Cup.

Brazil has the experience of Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho, mixed with young stars

Brazil has the experience of Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho, mixed with young stars

Tite’s men sit at the top of the qualifying table with a perfect winning streak and a healthy goal difference of eight.

The rivals Argentina are in second place with seven points, while Ecuador and Uruguay have six points on Monday evening.

Victory inside the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo would signal another step forward for the sleepwalking giant that appears to be emerging from its slumber.

Brazil has been under the radar for many years, but probably no longer.

Edits and copies still have to be made though, by December 2022, the famous World Cup could be wrapped in the familiar yellow cloth once again.

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