Brasil’s head man Tite names his squad for the World Cup.
Tite’s men take on Switzerland in 34 days for their opening Group E game and they have a squad bursting with talent and experience.
Star man Neymar has recently returned to fitness and despite not playing for club side Paris-Saint Germain, the samba star is still expected to play a pivotal role for his country in this summer’s tournament.
Brazil doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said in a news conference in Rio de Janeiro he examined Neymar on the weekend and the results were positive.
‘This is the final stage of his recovery, he will be able to go to training sessions soon, and will play the friendlies,’ Lasmar said.
Having revealed the team to the gathered media, Tite reaffirmed that some of his selection decisions had been made.
‘We will be much stronger with Neymar doing well, but for him to do well the rest of the team has to be well, too,’ he said.
‘At first, Gabriel Jesus is our starter. But Roberto Firmino will fight for that position in top form.’
The inclusion of Taison, the coach admitted, suggested Philippe Coutinho could be taking a role in central midfield which provides a spot for Willian.
‘Coutinho can play in the middle and in the flanks, he is versatile,’ Tite added.
‘Sometimes preparation gives you elements that you didn’t have, and force you to change your mind.’
Manchester City have four representatives in the squad with goalkeeper Ederson, defender Danilo, midfielder Fernandinho and striker Jesus all making the cut.
Premier League duo Firmino and Willian complete the players plying their trade in England.
Tite may be forgiven for having one eye on the Champions League final in Kiev between Liverpool and Real Madrid as three of his key men all feature: Firmino for Liverpool and Marcelo and Casemiro for Real Madrid.
With injuries this close to the tournament likely to end any hopes of playing, the 56-year-old boss will be hoping for a clean bill of health between now and the opening game.
The biggest question mark now remains around who will replace Neymar’s club team-mate Dani Alves at right back after he suffered a season-ending injury during the French Cup final.
Alves was in the starting side named by Tite back in February as the boss took the bizarre move in revealing his team selection – allowing their opponents to do plenty of homework.
‘The 11 who will start are Alisson; Marcelo, Miranda, Marquinhos, Dani Alves; Paulinho, Renato Augusto and Casemiro, Neymar, Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus,’ Tite said in an interview with UOL Esportes.
But knee ligament damage to the veteran defender, described by Tite on Monday as ‘a guy who has a huge heart and exemplary courage’, has forced the manager to go back to the drawing board.
Fagner, the 28-year-old Corinthians full back, appears the man set to challenge Danilo for the spot unless Tite averts from his preferred 4-3-3 system.