Brazil asks for the first dance at the World Cup in Qatar
The Seleção with Neymar starts the tournament against Serbia on Thursday – for the superstar it may be the last chance for the world title.
Doha. “Mentally strong” or “Use the moment of self-confidence”: These are the messages written in large yellow letters on green walls in the Al-Arabi Sport Club. The Brazilian national team trains at the facility of one of Qatar’s oldest clubs. She is called La Canarinha – the canary-colored, green and yellow. She has the talent to become world champion, that’s how they see it with the association, which had the Al-Arabi Club prepared according to its ideas. Only with the mentality, because you want to help a little bit.
For 20 years without a world title
Was for 20 years Brazil no longer world champion, for the record title holder that is half an eternity. Since the first of five world titles in 1958, 24 years was the longest waiting period. The current team would set the inglorious record with another failure. Something like that can strain heads and legs.
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“We have to do the simple things, sometimes that’s the hardest,” says defensive veteran Thiago Silva the day before the opening game against Serbia today (8 p.m. / ZDF). The 38-year-old is a veteran of bitter defeats and emotional excesses, having been there around 2014 when the players at the home World Cup cried before kick-off in some games and then went down 7-1 against Germany. “We know how important the first game is to get at least a point and get our nerves under control,” he says.
National coach Tite made him captain for the match against Serbia according to his rotation procedure. Among other things, Tite led the national team out of their post-Germany depression in 2016 with the principle of collective responsibility.
2018 Out in quarterfinals
While the country was drifting more and more into hysteria and elected right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro as president at the end of 2018, the experienced football coach created an oasis of calm. In 2018, Brazil traveled to the World Cup again as favorites, but surprisingly failed in Russia in the quarter-finals against Belgium. After all, they managed to win the South American Championship in front of their home crowd in 2019. In 2021, the final was reached again after Corona denier Bolsonaro declared his country the only one in South America to be able to host. But the final in Rio went to Argentina.
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Brazil, meanwhile, has remained hysterical. At the end of October, Bolsonaro was narrowly voted out, but the election campaign divided the country. And superstar Neymar, of all people, did massive advertising for him. The Paris St.-Germain star even declared that he wanted to dedicate his first World Cup goal to the politician.
Whether he still wants to keep this promise – depending on your point of view: this threat – was not known in advance. It is better to talk about dancing than about such sensitive topics. “We prepared about ten celebration dances for each game,” said winger Raphinha. “One for the first goal, the second, the third – up to the tenth.” Tite specified: “It’s something natural, our culture and way of life. It’s happiness, it’s joy. Please respect us for that, as we respect other cultures.”
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Tite likes to talk a little holistically, always has. “We can use the pressure to our advantage because dreams are part of our lives,” he said, putting the thought in a broader context: “Football can contribute to education.”
Three professionals from their own league
It will not have escaped Tite that interest in the Seleção is still high, but is declining. This is not only due to political appropriation. Above all, the poor, who hardly ever appeared at the home World Cup, can hardly identify with the national players and their luxury life in Europe. For this reason alone, it is said, Tite called up three professionals from his own league in the form of substitute goalkeeper Weverton von Palmeiras and Flamengo professionals Everton Riberiro and Pedro.
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The pillars of the team are of course different. Thiago Silva (Chelsea) and Marquinhos (Paris St.-Germain) in central defence, the five-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, Casemiro (now Manchester United) in defensive midfield and before him, of course, Neymar. For the 30-year-old superstar, it is particularly important to be “mentally strong”. In 2014 he was kicked out of the tournament in the quarterfinals, in 2018 he attracted more attention with his hairstyles and swallows than with his game. For Neymarin the recent past sometimes a bit tired of football, it is probably the last chance for the title, without which one is hardly considered a big one in Brazil.
It is said that Tite wants to attack and have three more attackers before Neymar. “Jogo bonito”, as in the best of times. May there be many dances.