Brazil opt for ‘unprecedented’ line-up for World Cup opener vs Serbia as Fred misses out

    Brazil's Neymar, left, and teammate Vinicius Junior attend a training session at the Grand Hamad stadium in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. Brazil will play their first match in the World Cup against Serbia on Nov. 24. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
    Neymar and Vinicius Junior are set to start Brazil’s World Cup opener against Serbia (AP)

    Brazil are going all-out attack for their World Cup opener against Serbia on Thursday.

    Manchester United’s Fred was expected to be in the starting XI for their first game in Group G, but Brazil’s head coach Tite has sacrificed a central midfielder to accommodate another attacker, according to sources in Brazil.

    Brazilian television network Globo reports that Brazil have tested the formation in both behind-closed-doors training sessions on Monday and Tuesday, and barring any late changes, Tite will select an attack consisting of Richarlison and Neymar, with Raphinha and Vinicius Junior on either flank.

    Fred’s Manchester United teammate will anchor Brazil’s midfield, with West Ham’s Lucas Paqueta operating further forward.

    Alisson will start in goal, Thiago Silva and Marquinhos will be in central defence, while Danilo and Alex Sandro are the two full-backs.

    Globo described Brazil’s starting line-up as ‘unprecedented’ given that Fred has started the majority of their games over the past 12 months.


    Alisson; Danilo, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Alex Sandro; Casemiro, Lucas Paqueta; Raphinha, Richarlison, Neymar, Vinicius Junior

    Brazil will also play Switzerland and Cameroon in Group G.

    Speaking ahead of Brazil’s World Cup opener, Richarlison named France, Belgium and Argentina as three teams he believes are frontrunners for the trophy alongside his nation.

    ‘There are a lot of good teams,’ the Tottenham forward told Eurosport.

    ‘The defending champions, France. Belgium, for example, and Argentina, which has a good squad and won the Copa America.

    ‘I think there are a lot of good teams, but we are Brazil, we have a lot of history, we’ve never been out of the World Cup and we’re going to the World Cup to honour the shirt. We’re definitely going to get something good for us.’

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