Brazil qualified in style for the 2022 World Cup, and the South American giants are considered to be the favourites to win the tournament in Qatar by many football experts and betting agencies.
However, the Selecao do have some ageing defenders in ex-Juventus right-back Dani Alves and former AC Milan centre-back Thiago Silva, who are 39 and 38 respectively. Although the duo are arguably the two greatest Brazilian defenders of their generation and have well over a century of caps each, it is questionable if their bodies have the endurance to last seven matches over the course of one month.
If they do suffer an injury or struggle with fatigue though, Brazil coach Tite can turn to the Italian-based trio of Danilo, Gleison Bremer, and Alex Sandro from Juventus. In addition to being younger than Alves and Silva, the Bianconeri contingent will have benefitted from playing week in, week out together at club level.
Brazilian trio play their part in recent Juventus purple patch
Juventus have had an underwhelming first half of the 2022/23 campaign by their lofty standards, which included a group stage elimination from the Champions League and being positioned as low as eighth in the Serie A table.
Injuries and poor form to a number of players forced a rethink from Bianconeri coach Massimiliano Allegri, who ditched the back four and started implementing the 3-5-2 formation. When reshuffling the defence in particular, Allegri has benched Italy international Leonardo Bonucci, and has implemented a back three of Danilo, Bremer, and Alex Sandro.
Bremer had a brief spell on the sidelines with a muscular injury in October but he has played himself into form and has started looking assured in the Juventus backline. Danilo has shown his versatility at times, operating as a full-back and centre-back, and he has been a consistent performer for La Vecchia Signora.
Meanwhile, Alex Sandro was not making much of an impact at left-back, but his performances have improved since playing on the left side of a three-man defence.
Juventus climbed to third before Serie A paused for the World Cup and the Brazilians have been important in keeping things tight at the back. La Vecchia Signora won seven out of their last eight matches in Italy’s top flight and kept clean sheets in each of those victories.
What could Brazil’s defence look like as the World Cup progresses?
Brazil will commence their World Cup campaign against Serbia in Group H on Thursday, and it is probable that Tite will field a back four consisting of Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, former Roma defender Marquinhos, and ex-Inter full-back Alex Telles.
Silva and Marquinhos have played for the Selecao for many years and know each other from their days at Paris Saint-Germain. Meanwhile, Alves is now playing in Mexico and Telles is featuring in a Sevilla team that are in the midst of a relegation battle in La Liga.
Although Tite will keep faith in the players that have guarded his Brazilian backline since he was appointed coach in 2016, he also has some depth in defence that he can count on if he feels that he needs to make changes.
Danilo has predominantly featured as a right-back when he has represented Brazil, Bremer had impressed as a defender at Torino and now he is starting to get the international recognition that he deserves, and Alex Sandro featured in the 2019 Copa America triumph as well as more than half of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
While the world will marvel in the attacking flair of Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, and Vinicius Junior on the pitch, the Selecao will also boast plenty of experience at the back. However, if Tite’s first choices are not up to their required level, the Juventus contingent have the opportunity to become unsung heroes for the South American giants.