The 1994 World Cup-winner insists the Selecao have bounced back from their 2014 semi-final defeat and labelled Tite’s side as ‘super favourites’
There are few people in the world who know more about the World Cup than Carlos Alberto Parreira.
Dubbed Mr Copa, he led Brazil to their fourth world title in USA in 1994 and has led five different national teams into the tournament.
And this week, speaking at an event hosted by Wembley Sports, where he led a roundtable to discuss Russia 2018, he insisted Brazil were favourites to take the title.
— Brasil Global Tour (@BGT_ENG) June 18, 2018
“I think we’ll arrive at the Copa with a team that is settled. There are always changes during the competition, but for the quality we have, for what the team is showing, it’s not just us who say that Brazil are favourites – the whole world is calling Brazil ‘super favourite’. To win a World Cup you need, in addition to team, players that make a difference, and we have those.”
“Only Brazil are capable of recovering from such a defeat, from what happened in 2014, to go from hell to heaven, arriving at a World Cup just three years later as a super favourite – only Brazilian football with its potential and wealth could have done what we’re doing now.”
“A year ago, I dared to say that we have the best attack in world football at the moment: Neymar, Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus,” he continued.
“Nobody has three players like this, who can improvise and decide games. So I think Brazil are in Russia as the super favourites.
“And we still have Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa to come in, too, which is a hugely beneficial with a coach like Tite who has done so well to balance the defence and attack.
“It does not mean that we will win the World Cup. It is a short, treacherous competition, and the best team does not always win, but we have everything we need to lift the hexa.”
Parreira also made a point of praising defensive midfielder Casemiro and revealed a conversation he had with Chris Coleman, former Wales coach.
“Last year, I went to give a talk to coaches at UFEA,” he said.
“Wales coach Chris Coleman said, ‘Gareth Bale told me that Casemiro was Real Madrid’s most important player, because he gave the team balance. With Casemiro there, Luka Modric can go, Bale can go, because Casemiro protects the team behind the midfield’.
Parreira also heaped praise on Paulinho, one of Tite’s top midfield players.
“Paulinho has a fundamental quality: He is the player that spring forward as a surprise and that is why he is so often unmarked. He scored three goals against Uruguay in Montevideo, where we hardly ever win.
“He was reborn, and credit to Tite for that, who knew him Corinthians and went looking for him in China when nobody was talking about Paulinho anymore.”
Only six of the 23 players in this month’s Brazil squad have World Cup experience, but that does not concern Parreira – on the contrary, he believes the absence of world champion is of benefit for Tite’s group.
“The great advantage of this team is that there are no world champions and certainly everyone wants to beat the chest and say I am the champion of the world.
That gives them all a greater hunger, to get in the mood for the tournament and become a world champion for the first time. It helps a lot.”
And four years on, Parreira still has no explanation for the 7-1, insisting it remains a mystery.
“That never happened before in a World Cup semi-final – a team conceding seven. Brazil had never conceded seven. It was the first time in history. When I was interviewed after the game I just said that it cannot be explained.”