Brazil's World Cup squad has 12 stars from Premier League including surprise call-up for Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli | The Sun

Brazil's World Cup squad has 12 stars from Premier League including surprise call-up for Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli | The Sun

THERE were six Premier League based Brazilians in the squad for Russia 2018.

Four years later that number has doubled – and it could have gone even higher.

Phillippe Coutinho is an old favourite of national team coach Tite. Despite a recent slump of form he may well have been on the plane had he not suffered his recent injury.

He misses out to Everton Ribeiro, one of three domestically-based names in the list of 26.

Another who has not made the cut is Arsenal centre back Gabriel Magalhaes.

He was part of the squad for a while, but never got out onto the pitch.

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When he was left out of the FIFA dates at the end of September it was clear that he had not convinced Tite, who has preferred Bremer of Juventus for the fourth centre back slot.

The other two Gabriels from Arsenal were also not part of the squad in September. But both are in now.

There was never much doubt about the inclusion of Gabriel Jesus.

His recent form for Brazil has been poor (one goal in the last 20 games, and no competitive goal in more than three years), and he is unlikely to be a starter.

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But his excellent start to the season and his all round attacking versatility mean that there was always going to be a place in the squad for him.

But the same did not apply to Gabriel Martinelli. A while back there seemed little chance of him making the cut.

Brazil already have more wide strikers than they know what to do with.

But his form for his club forced Tite to sit up and take notice. Brazil’s coach saw him as the outstanding player in Arsenal’s recent win over Liverpool, and began to dwell on ways to get him into the squad.

One option was to leave out Daniel Alves and only have one right back, in the hope that other defenders could cover the position if needed.

This was rejected – and back in Brazil the inclusion of the 39 year old Alves is going down as the most controversial thing in the squad.

The other way was reluctantly to bite the bullet and drop someone – and it is an opponent from that game against Liverpool who has paid the price.

Roberto Firmino looked sure of a place. His ability in the false nine role make him probably the most natural replacement for Neymar, and he seemed to be finding form at the right time.

But if Martinelli was to come in, and Daniel Alves was to stay in, then someone had to go, and the axe fell on the unfortunate Firmino.

In terms of the starting line up, Alisson and Thiago Silva are front runners, along with the midfield trio of Casemiro, Fred and Lucas Paqueta – although in Brazil’s most attacking formation, Paqueta takes the place of Fred to enable the selection of two wingers.

And after seven goals in the last six games, a fit Richarlison is clear favourite to fill the centre forward slot.

That, then, is a total of six (or five at worst) Premier League players as first choices for Brazil in the World Cup.


The others – Ederson, Fabinho, Bruno Guimarães, Gabriel Jesus, Antony and Martinelli – will have to wait their turn.

But they will all be aware that the World Cup is a dynamic process, that the team that starts the competition is not necessarily the one that ends it.

The twelve Premier League stars can all dream of making a decisive contribution on December 18th, and ending a 20 year wait for title number six.

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