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Tite selects blasts from past for Brazil roster

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Brazil manager Tite has picked his roster for a pair of qualifiers against Bolivia and Chile, and there are a few familiar names not heard from of late.

Most notably, 33-year-old Fred has been called in, his first call-up since the 2014 World Cup. Also brought in is 32-year-old Diego Tardelli, who has 14 career caps and last saw time in the 2015 Copa America. Tardelli is playing in China with Shandong Luneng. Tite also recalled another 32-year-old in Flamengo midfielder Diego, who has not seen the field for Brazil since 2008. Diego was called up back in March but was an unused substitute in both World Cup qualifiers.

26-year-old Danilo was also called in, after starting the season brightly for Manchester City. He has 16 previous caps for Brazil and one goal, and has started the Premier League season by appearing in all for City games, with one assist.

Not on the roster is Chelsea defender David Luiz, who has not played in a competitive match for Brazil since March of 2016. Neither was former Chelsea midfielder Oscar who has just returned from suspension with Chinese club SIPG. He has nine assists in 16 Chinese Super League appearances this season.

Brazil has already qualified for the 2018 World Cup, sitting 10 points above the rest of the table.

BRAZIL ROSTER

GK: Alisson (Roma), Cassio (Corinthians), Ederson (Manchester City).

DEF: Danilo (Manchester City), Miranda (Inter Milan), Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Daniel Alves (Paris Saint-Germain), Jemerson (Monaco), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid).

MID: Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Paulinho (Barcelona), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Willian (Chelsea), Arthur (Gremio), Diego (Flamego), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk).

FWD: Diego Tardelli (Shandong Luneng), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Neymar (PSG), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool).

2018 World Cup Power Rankings — 10 months B.W.C.

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Can Germany become the first nation since Brazil (1958 and 1962) to repeat as World Cup winners? Can the Brazilians exorcise their demons of 7-1? Has the next wave of Spanish brilliance/impending dominance arrived?

Will Italy contend again after failing to advance from the group stage two tournaments in a row? Can one of the up-and-comers — Belgium, Colombia, Portugal or England — make good on years (decades, in England’s case) of promise and potential? What are the U.S. national team’s chances, assuming they manage to qualify?

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These are just a handful of the questions at the forefront of so many folks’ minds, as we now sit just over 10 months from the start of the 2018 World Cup. Beginning today (10 months B.W.C.), and following every international break leading up to next summer’s tournament in Russia, the PST staff will be keeping tabs on these stories, and more, in our World Cup Power Rankings.

According to our esteemed panelists — Joe Prince-Wright, Nicholas Mendola, Kyle Bonn, Matt Reed, Dan Karell and yours truly — there are five or six sides with a genuine shot at being crowned world champions in July. As always, if you disagree with the final results, feel free to shout at all of the above, except me, on Twitter (links above).

Team Points Best Worst
Germany 116 1 3
Brazil 115 1 2
France 106 2 4
Spain 105 1 5
Belgium 91 4 10
Colombia 84 6 9
Italy 75 5 16
Portugal 72 5 16
Uruguay 71 7 11
Switzerland 61 9 13
Mexico 54 10 16
England 52 9 15
Nigeria 33 12 NR
Chile 33 7 NR
Costa Rica 23 14 NR
Japan 20 9 NR
Ivory Coast 16 14 NR
Peru 16 13 NR
Poland 12 12 NR
South Korea 9 16 NR

As you’ve probably already noticed, the USMNT didn’t make the final top-20 list. Here’s everyone’s thoughts on the USMNT, and where they slot in among 2018 hopefuls:

JPW: USA rank — 30th. The last international break summed up just how much work needs to be done between now and next summer if the USMNT qualifies for the World Cup. Getting out of the group stage would seem like a big achievement as things stand.

NM: USA rank — 25th. The U.S. entered September ranked 30th in ELO, and 26th by FIFA, though not every team in front of them will be going to Russia, either. If I project a 32-team field, placing the U.S. with a seeded team, a European team, and probably an African side or South American side (The U.S. has been in a pot with Asian sides the last two draws). In most scenarios, barring hosts Russia being in the U.S. group, I’d expect this current bunch to fail to reach the group stage. Of the teams who may make the field, I’d put U.S. hopes ahead of most of the Asian sides, one or two European sides, and another couple of African qualifiers.

KB: The United States is currently ranked 26th in FIFA, and that’s with a Gold Cup win that included a number of B squads. I would not put this current US team anywhere near the Top 20 until it shows it can win consistently against even mid-level sides like Honduras or Panama.

AE: USA rank — 22nd. Once you move past the top five or so sides — you know, the ones that actually have a chance of winning the World Cup — everyone is fatally flawed in any number of ways. The USMNT is no different than the rest of these, but with one favorable exception: 14 of the 23 players on the most recent roster have World Cup experience, with the majority of those having been to multiple finals tournaments. If/when they qualify, they’ll leapfrog a half-dozen other sides without that experience, making them a fringe Round of 16 side, if they get there.

MR: USA rank — 25th. Let’s face it. It’s been a difficult week for the USMNT, and while the squad is still very much in the running for a trip to Russia next summer Bruce Arena and Co. are crawling into the World Cup at this point. Solely judging this team off of what I believe they can be versus what they are right now, I’d say the U.S. can and should be a top 20 team heading into 2018, however, watching these last two matches have reiterated several of my previous concerns, especially in the central midfield. I’d put the U.S. somewhere around 25 in the field of 32 World Cup teams, assuming a bid to Russia is in the cards.

DK: USA rank — 19th. I had the USA in No. 19 because I actually am taking a more positive look at the draw in Honduras. The USA lost this game in the last World Cup cycle under Klinsmann and coming back on the road in the Honduran heat in a World Cup qualifier with everything on the line takes guts and determination. Just as the fortunes turned with the famed “snow game” in Denver against Costa Rica, perhaps this could be a moment like that for this USMNT team that basically needs to win out to ensure safe passage to the World Cup

CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying: Tight table gets tighter (video)

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South American qualifying for the World Cup was fascinating and close before matches began on Thursday.

[ MORE: USMNT-Costa Rica preview ]

Now, it’s even tighter.

With three matches to play, only Brazil is safe. Their win over Ecuador on Thursday means it will finish first place in CONMEBOL.

Peru beat Bolivia in Lima during the late game, meaning every non-eliminated team is could be in an automatic qualifying spot or outside the Top Four altogether after the international break.

This was not a good day for Alexis Sanchez, whose move away from Arsenal failed to materialize hours before he couldn’t help engineer a home win against Paraguay (the visitors now knocking on the door of the Top Five.

Brazil 2-0 Ecuador

New Barcelona man Paulinho and hopeful Barcelona man Philippe Coutinho scored in the 69th and 76th minutes to lift Brazil 11 points clear of second-place Colombia.

Also, full marks to the social media person here:

Chile 0-3 Paraguay

A rocket own goal from Arturo Vidal started Chile on its way to a shocking score line, with Victor Caceres and Richard Ortiz also scoring as Paraguay climbed up the table.

Venezuela 0-0 Colombia

The hosts had already been eliminated from contention for a place in Russia, and still managed to outshoot Los Cafeteros en route to a point that keeps Colombia’s World Cup plans very much in question. Venezuela’s Josef Martinez (Atlanta United) led the match in shots with four, while Radamel Falcao paced the visitors with three.

Uruguay 0-0 Argentina

Luis Suarez’s hosts are now a point back of second-place Colombia, while Lionel Messi’s Argentina sits two points back in fifth.

Peru 2-1 Bolivia

Table
Brazil — 36 points (qualified)
Colombia — 25 points
Uruguay — 24 points
Chile — 23 points
Argentina — 23 points (CONMEBOL-OFC playoff)
Paraguay — 21 points

Peru — 21 points

Ecuador — 20 points

Bolivia – 10 points (eliminated)
Venezuela — 7 points (eliminated)

CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying preview

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Have to hand it to CONMEBOL, which makes sure their World Cup qualifying day always has a match moving for seven and a half hours.

It’s Matchday 15 for South America, the first of four days left for five perennial World Cup qualifiers to find their way to one of three automatic spots on the table. Outside of Colombia, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador, this week marks the last chances for Peru and Paraguay to edge their way into the conversation.

Let’s take a look at the table before we go any further.

[ MORE: Four keys for the USMNT ]

Brazil — 33 pts (qualified)
Colombia — 24 pts
Uruguay — 23 pts
Chile — 23 pts
Argentina — 22 pts
Ecuador — 20 pts
Peru — 18 pts
Paraguay — 18 pts
Bolivia — 10 pts (eliminated)
Venezuela — 6 pts (eliminated)

The Top Four teams go to Russia automatically, with the fifth place team facing either the Solomon Islands or, more likely, New Zealand for a place in the World Cup.

Brazil is already in, but won’t be resting on its laurels given the competition for places in the roster. Players like David Luiz, Alex Sandro, and Douglas Costa aren’t even in the squad for Thursday’s match with sixth-place Ecuador in Porto Alegre.

Ecuador could find itself as low as eight with a loss to Brazil, should Peru beat already-eliminated Bolivia in Lima (likely) and Paraguay snare three points in Chile (far from it).

The Chileans will be feeling the heat should they not get a win over Paraguay. A trip to Bolivia is next, but home to Ecuador and away to Brazil is a tough way to finish qualifying.

Uruguay is the only team to face both Bolivia and Venezuela, which gives it a distinct advantage. If it can manage a win over Argentina on Thursday, it would but them on a clean path to Russia.

The Argentine side would avoid a brutal final day in Ecuador if it could pick up a win in Montevideo. With Venezuela and Peru coming to Argentina next, La Albiceleste would have a solid chance to clinch a spot in Russia before Matchday 18.

CONMEBOL qualifying Thursday schedule
Venezuela vs. Colombia, 5 p.m. ET
Chile vs. Paraguay, 6:30 p.m. ET
Uruguay vs. Argentina, 7 p.m. ET
Brazil vs. Ecuador, 8:45 p.m. ET
Peru vs. Bolivia, 10:15 p.m. ET

Remaining opponents
Brazil – Ecuador (H), Colombia (A), Bolivia (A), Chile (H)
Colombia – Venezuela (A), Brazil (H), Paraguay (H), Peru (A)
Uruguay – Argentina (H), Paraguay (A), Venezuela (A), Bolivia (H)
Chile – Paraguay (H), Bolivia (A), Ecuador (H), Brazil (A)
Argentina – Uruguay (A), Venezuela (H), Peru (H), Ecuador (A)
Ecuador – Brazil (A), Peru (H), Chile (A), Argentina (H)
Peru – Bolivia (H), Ecuador (A), Argentina (A), Colombia (H)
Paraguay – Chile (A), Uruguay (H), Colombia (A), Venezuela (H)
Bolivia – Peru (A), Chile (H), Brazil (H), Uruguay (A)
Venezuela – Colombia (H), Argentina (A), Uruguay (H), Paraguay (A)

Chelsea looking to Bayern Munich for right back insurance

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Antonio Conte may be turning to Bayern Munich to strengthen his defense.

Bild has a report that Chelsea is interested in Bayern reserve Rafinha, who is in the last year of his contract with the Allianz Arena set.

The 31-year-old Brazilian has been with Bayern since 2011, where he arrived after one season at Genoa. Before that, Rafinha spent five seasons with Schalke.

[ MORE: Latest Deadline Day news ]

His appearance numbers have dipped with Bayern since 2013-14, but Rafinha has averaged about 30 matches per year for the club.

Rafinha would give Conte affordable cover at right back, where Victor Moses is first choice and Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta can operate outside of a three-CB set.