Following a tumultuous set of World Cup qualification matches last month, Brazil now has a full team and a clear goal: to clinch their trip to Qatar.
So far, the Selecao has a perfect record of eight wins from eight qualifiers, with a trip to Venezuela on Thursday, a match against Colombia on Sunday, and a match against Uruguay next week.
Three more victories might put Brazil in a position to qualify in record time.
“Obviously, it’s always good to qualify as soon as possible,” remarked Juventus fullback Alex Sandro, who is 30 years old.
“However, we constantly think about playing to win, giving it our all, and putting everything we’ve worked on on display.”
“We’ll do everything we can in the following games to ensure qualifying.”
Brazil will also hope to avoid the chaos of last month’s qualifiers, when coach Tite was stripped of nine members of his original squad – including Chelsea’s Thiago Silva, Liverpool’s Alisson, Roberto Firmino, and Fabinho, Manchester City’s Ederson and Gabriel Jesus, and Manchester United’s Fred – and their match against Argentina was called off after just 10 minutes due to public outrage in Brazil.
Covid was primarily to fault for both problems, with English teams refusing to release their players due to quarantine requirements — a matter that the British and Brazilian governments have now remedied.
Similarly, the health officials’ actions were motivated by Brazil’s Covid laws, which were enacted after Argentina fielded four English-based players despite the fact that they were obliged to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in Brazil.
Those concerns are no longer an issue, however there is still no word on when the match will be rescheduled.
Raphinha, a winger for Leeds United, is relieved when his first call-up to the Brazilian squad was canceled due to his club’s refusal to release him.
“It was quite difficult, and I was extremely frustrated.” Of course, I was hoping to be able to come until the very last minute,” Raphinha remarked of the experience.
“All I could do was stay calm and keep working hard since I knew I’d be called up again in a few weeks.”
Raphinha has been in excellent form in the English Premier League, and it has all worked out beautifully for him.
He continued, “It’s a very great moment in my work and in my life.”
Despite having a reduced roster, Brazil won 1-0 in Chile and 2-0 at home against Peru, with a goal from Neymar, who is suspended against Venezuela.
Argentina’s in-form Lionel Messi, who last week opened his account for Paris Saint-Germain with a miracle strike to seal a 2-0 Champions League win against Manchester City, is six points behind Brazil in the single South American qualifying table.
Argentina’s unbeaten record will be put to the test against Paraguay on Thursday, Uruguay on Sunday, and Peru the following week.
Messi scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Bolivia last time out, surpassing Pele as the best international goalscorer in South American football with 79 goals in the light blue and white stripes.
Because a number of matches earlier this year and last year were postponed due to Covid, creating a fixture backlog, South American teams will play three World Cup qualifiers in the space of one week.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni confessed, “I’m a little apprehensive about these matches.” Argentina is without injured forwards Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala.
“It’s a new challenge for us, and we’re looking forward to tackling it in the best way possible.”
Argentina’s qualification appears to be a formality, similar to Brazil’s, but the competition for the remaining two spots is fierce.
With nine matches remaining, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, and Paraguay are separated by only four points.
Uruguay takes against Colombia on Thursday, encouraged by the return of the country’s two biggest stars, Luis Suarez, who has been out since September due to injury, and Edinson Cavani, who was barred from traveling by Manchester United in September.
Last month, they were hardly missed as Uruguay won seven of a possible nine points.
They will, however, travel to Argentina and Brazil after Colombia.
Despite this, Cavani is upbeat, claiming that Uruguay will “try not to lose points at home” and that they can “go out and compete anyplace.”