Few national teams have experienced the ups and downs of Brazil over the last five years but the good news for fans of the “selecao” is that they are ascendant as Russia approaches.

Brazil won the 2013 Confederations Cup, hammering an all-conquering Spain side 3-0 in the final.

A year later they were humiliated 7-1 at home by Germany in the World Cup semi-finals and early exits at the Copa America in 2015 and 2016 deepened the gloom.

But the improvement since Tite took over as coach in June 2016 has been remarkable and Brazil are now joint favourites to win a record sixth World Cup.

Much of that credit goes to the wily coach, who has instilled a sense of purpose in a team that looked lost under his predecessor Dunga.

The central defence has been shored up with Marquinhos and Miranda, and Brazil under Tite have conceded just five goals in 19 games.

The midfield has a balance of solid and creative, with Casemiro providing the backbone, Paulinho capable of going box-to-box, and Renato Augusto offering some spark.

Up front Tite has an embarrassment of riches, with Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho the likely starters with able back-up on the bench from speedy wingers Willian and Douglas Costa.

Those players helped Brazil to become the first team to qualify for Russia with a record string of nine successive wins, but they must take care to rein in any euphoria.

Gremio centre half Pedro Geromel and Corinthians pair Cassio and Fagner were the surprise inclusions in Brazil’s 23-man World Cup squad.

Gremio defender Geromel has just two caps but was outstanding in leading the Porto Alegre side to the Copa Libertadores last season.

The former Gremio and Corinthians coach, who was tasked with revamping the country’s reputation after their 7-1 mauling by Germany in the 2014 World Cup semi-final, said he had not decided who will fill the void left by Dani Alves. The defender was ruled out last week with a knee injury.

He selected Fagner of Corinthians and Danilo of Manchester City to replace the Paris St Germain right back and said both were up to the task.

Left back Filipe Luis, who recently returned to the Atletico Madrid side after fracturing his tibia, was selected as back up to Marcelo.

PSG striker Neymar, who was out with an injured foot since Feb. 25, was also named in the squad and showed that he is likely to feature after scoring in his comeback match for Brazil in a friendly against Croatia last Sunday (June 3).

No. Pos. Player Name

1 GK Alisson

2 DF Thiago Silva

3 DF Miranda

4 DF Pedro Geromel

5 MF Casemiro

6 DF Filipe Luis

7 FW Douglas Costa

8 MF Renato Augusto

9 FW Gabriel Jesus

10 FW Neymar

11 MF Philippe Coutinho

12 DF Marcelo

13 DF Marquinhos

14 DF Danilo

15 MF Paulinho

16 GK Cassio

17 MF Fernandinho

18 MF Fred

19 MF Willian

20 FW Roberto Firmino

21 FW Taison

22 DF Fagner

23 GK Ederson