SAO PAULO ( Associated Press) — When coach Tite named veteran Dani Alves to his World Cup squad, reactions across Brazil ranged from dismay to disappointment.
The coach himself, who has faced some criticism during his six-year tenure, made the announcement in a low tone that didn’t reflect much confidence.
“The criterion of Dani Alves is the criterion for all”, justified Tite. “It’s about rewarding individual talent, fitness and mindset like everyone else”
But Alves himself admitted that many did not want him in the team playing in Qatar.
“I’m not here to please anybody,” he remarked in a video.
The signs of rejection will have little to do with the right-back’s illustrious past, but rather with the present of a 39-year-old who played for Mexican club Pumas with more pain than glory during his final semester and whose inclusion testifies to some of the choices that Brazil has on both sides of the back.
The most likely options for Tite to start at the World Cup are right-back Danilo, who has become a centre-back of sorts with Juventus, and Alex Sandro, a typical Brazilian with some credentials as a left-back. traveling from one region to another.
Neither Danilo nor Alex Sandro consider themselves two of the best in their positions in the world, as their predecessors Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Marcelo and Alves fully did 10 years ago.
Neither call, however, caused too many defensive problems for Brazil, a team that conceded just five goals in the South American tie against Qatar.
Alves and Alex Telles will start the World Cup on the bench. Eder Militão is also capable of playing on the right, and midfielder Fabinho can do the same on the left.
“He’s fine,” said Júnior, a former Brazil left-back and current television commentator, when analyzing Tite’s variants this month. “He is not a player who will go to the front all the time. They will be more careful. But I don’t see any other option to start playing this time.”
In the past year, Tite has lost two other options who could have helped.
The 33-year-old right-back, who replaced the injured Alves in Russia four years ago, had a poor season with Corinthians. Former Sevilla left-back Guilherme Arana suffered a knee injury in September and was ruled out of the World Cup.
The Brazilian tactician has found no reason to bring Renan Lodi back on loan to Nottingham Forest after he struggled at Atletico Madrid.
Many still blame Lodi for Brazil’s 1-0 loss to Argentina in the Copa America final. Ángel di María, the author of the goal, said that he knew then that Brazil was a bit careless during the matches.
And the left-back didn’t help his own cause after missing tight call-ups at the start of the year for not being vaccinated against COVID-19.
Anyone who plays Brazil’s right-back at the World Cup can face intense pressure when playing alongside 38-year-old defender Thiago Silva.
Silva has been less consistent than usual in Chelia. He had a poor performance in the London club’s 4-1 win against Brighton in the Premier League last month
A right-back who can run instead of the experienced Silva could be key to preventing Brazil from scoring in Qatar.
Cafu, who was on the winning team in 2002, said that protecting Silva was one of the reasons Tite would eventually use Militão at right back during the World Cup. He predicted that Brazil would perform well in Qatar despite the lack of options at the back.
“I don’t know why we have a shortage of players for these positions, but it’s not something that happens only in the national team, but also in the clubs,” Cafu said in an interview last month. “Coaches are adapting the midfielder to this position, because they don’t know how to work specifically with left or right backs.
“Also, it is unfair to compare these players with us. Anyone who plays on the right or the left today has a lot of responsibility. They have to replace the guys who made history with Brazil.”