The absence of Neymar could incite the host of Copa Brasil
SAO PAULO: Brazil hopes to win all the tournaments they play, especially at home, but they will enter next week America Cup without his talisman Neymar and lacking something of the brightness that has long been its stock in commerce.
They have not lost since Belgium knocked them out of the 2018 World Cup in the quarterfinals, but their 10-game unbeaten run, with the exception of Honduras' 7-0 loss of 10 players in the last week, has arrived largely without the usual style. .
Brazil's preparations for the Cup have been overshadowed by Neymar - firstly the rape allegations against the striker, which has denied, and then the ankle injury that ruled him out the tournament last week.
Tite's team is as good as anyone in the tournament, but the coach is trying to handle a generational change and said that choosing his 23-player team was the most difficult task he had faced since taking office three years ago.
Brazil has included only 14 of the team that went to the World Cup in Russia a year ago, with Everton Richarlison , David Neres from Ajax Amsterdam and midfielders Artur from Barcelona and Luca Paqueta from AC Milan among the young recruits.
Apart from the home advantage, they are lucky to be in one of the easiest groups with Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela.
The big question will be how they cope without Neymar but his absence could be a blessing in disguise. With the Paris St-Germain forward gone, there will be less of a circus atmosphere around the squad and the focus will be firmly on the pitch.
His team mates will want to show they can do it without their undisputed leader and they will also take the opportunity to show their solidarity and try to win the trophy for Neymar.
The victory over Honduras in its last warm-up game, with Philippe Coutinho The resurgence and six different players who got their names on the score sheet was an encouraging sign.
Brazil have won the America Cup eight times but not since 2007 and that trophy drought – compounded by a failure to win the World Cup since 2002 - is a long one by Brazilian standards.
The fans expect a win at home and, although the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation said last week that Tite's work was safe, whatever happens, the fans will not forgive him unless Brazil wins or loses playing a beautiful football.
But the coach was his usual inscrutable when asked what he hoped to achieve in the next three weeks.
We are playing in our own country, and the expectations of winning are high, he said. But the expectation corresponds to the way we act. We will win? I do not know. But I want us to do the best we can.