Football-mad nation Brazil is lingering its hopes on this current Selecao side to end a lengthy wait of 20 years and bring the coveted World Cup home for a record sixth time.
Brazil open their 2022 World Cup campaign on November 24 when they face Serbia in a group that also features Switzerland and Cameroon.
Since Ronaldo’s brace in Yokohama in the 2002 final against Germany, Brazil never made it to another final again.
Their last two appearances were a far cry from that South Korea-Japan expedition.
In 2014, Brazil suffered an embarrassing 7-1 semi-final defeat at the hands of eventual winners Germany on home soil.
Four years ago, in Russia, Brazil were outwitted by Belgium in the quarter-finals as the hopes of seeing Neymar lifting the nation in a World Cup tournament were postponed for another four years.
However, this time around there are great hopes around this Brazil side which cruised through their difficult South American World Cup qualification campaign.
A Copa America defeat in the final to arch-rivals Argentina did not hinder Brazil’s progress as coach Tite has assembled a solid group with the sole target of triumphing in Qatar.
“If Tite wants me, I am still available,” legendary defender Roberto Carlos jokingly told the Times of Malta.
Roberto Carlos, who was in Malta as Betwinner ambassador during the SiGMA Europe Summit, was part of the 2002 side that lifted the World Cup for the fifth time for the Brazilian national team.
Asked about if he could draw any similarities between his 2002 team and this current side, Roberto Carlos had no doubts about the answer.
“My team was better, of course,” he said, jokingly once again.
“Jokes apart, this team has a lot of strong players in every department and they have created a brilliant atmosphere inside the dressing room.
“Obviously, now they need to showcase their talent on the field and demonstrate that they can live up to their expectations.”
This year’s edition of the World Cup brings a different challenge to the 32 participants as it will be played in November, rather than the traditional June-July window.
For the Brazil side, this means that their European-based players, which practically compose all the team except four players, would be gracing the Qatari fields in the middle of their season.
Roberto Carlos is aware of this challenge but heaped praise on coach Tite for assembling a strong side who have been convincing recently.
In the last year or so, Brazil won 10 of their 13 games between qualifiers and friendlies. Their three draws arrived away from home on difficult grounds – Colombia, Argentina and Ecuador.
In the process, they scored 35 goals and conceded just five, including eight in their September friendlies against Ghana and Tunisia.
The former Real Madrid left-back has no doubts that Brazil are number one contenders to win the tournament and bring the trophy back to South America.
For him, every player has to be at his best if they want to progress during the World Cup as he mentions a host of names who are crucial to this Brazil side.
“Brazil have some amazing talents such Alisson, Thiago Silva, Eder Militao, Casemiro, Raphinha and Neymar who can all make a difference,” Roberto Carlos said.
“It’s about them to keep their chemistry going as there is a huge expectation on them by the Brazilian general public.”
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