Top favorites Brazil keep their cards close to their chest as they prepare to open their 2022 World Cup campaign against Serbia.
The pressure is on as Brazil aim for a record sixth title with a squad full of talent but full of young players – 16 of them making their World Cup debuts.
A new generation of players, including Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo, Raphinha, Eder Militao, Bruno Guimaraes and Antony, have emerged on the elite scene of European club football.
Pairing the young guns with an in-form Neymar, Brazil have won 37 out of 50 games since their 2018 World Cup quarter-final loss to Belgium in Russia.
During this period, Brazil lost one official game – a 1-0 loss to bitter rivals Argentina in the Copa America final.
They have conceded 19 goals in this World Cup cycle, finishing 33 of those 50 matches with a clean sheet.
There has been a lot of speculation over coach Tite’s squad selection for Thursday’s game against Serbia (6am Friday AEDT), with the biggest question mark surrounding Vinicius Jr.
The 22-year-old scored the winner for Real Madrid in the Champions League final against Liverpool and finished eighth in the Ballon d’Or ballot last month, lifting him to world level in his fifth season with the club. La Liga team.
However, he has yet to secure a place with the Selecao, with Tite not revealing whether he will pair Fred with Manchester United team-mate Casemiro to bolster the midfield, or release Vinicius alongside Neymar, Richarlison and Raphinha.
Even the players don’t yet know for sure who will play up front against Serbia, who clinched an automatic berth in Qatar with a 2-1 win over Portugal in their last qualifying game.
In total, Serbia won six games and drew two, sending second-placed Portugal to the playoffs.
They arrive at the World Cup full of confidence having finished top of their Nations League group, sealing their promotion to the top-flight A League with a 2-0 away win against Norway with goals from the duo Dusan Vlahovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Serbia have never made it past the World Cup group stages but will be looking to build momentum in a strong Group G which also includes Switzerland and Cameroon.