Brazil has vowed to play with their customary joy and flair as they dream of winning the FIFA World Cup for the sixth time in Qatar.
The South American giants will make their tournament debut against Serbia in Lusail on Thursday before also facing Cameroon and Switzerland in Group G.
“We are ready to play our first match of this World Cup and we are in good shape compared to others that I have played in,” veteran defender Thiago Silva, who has been named captain for the first match, told a press conference on Wednesday.
“We are feeling positive. Every player is fit and focused. I ask our fans to believe in us. We don’t have any doubts that we are ready to have a great World Cup. Dreaming is free and we are dreaming of [being World Cup champions].”
Several members of Brazil’s likely starting lineup have never played a World Cup match, prompting concerns from some quarters that the team could lack the necessary experience.
But Thiago cited Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo as examples of players who have already shown they can handle high-stakes pressure for their clubs. Both were key members of the Real Madrid team that won this year’s UEFA Champions League title by beating Liverpool 1-0 in Paris.
“The mixture of experience and youth is very important,” the 38-year-old Chelsea center-back said. “The fact that there are players taking part in their first World Cup is not an issue. Guys like Vinicius and Rodrygo have played in the Champions League and have been decisive.”
He added that Brazil would stay true to themselves: “playing with joy, without losing concentration.”
Brazil head coach Tite, who sat beside Thiago during the press conference, said he had not asked his players to tone down their goal celebrations, which often involve a short dance routine.
“It’s called being natural, it belongs to our culture, a way of being,” the 61-year-old said. “It’s not meant to be derogatory. It’s a characteristic that we [Brazilians] have. We respect the Arabic culture and other cultures, ours should be respected too. We are serious within our team, but there are times when we vibrate and we dance.”
Meanwhile, Silva, who is playing in his fourth World Cup, said he is better prepared this time than in previous editions.
“I am prepared and very motivated,” he said. “Sometimes you have to live through tough experiences to learn. I’m more at ease now. This is the best version of Thiago Silva and I’m in the best stage of my career.” ■