World Cup 2018: Brazil in attacking shake-up as Tite experiments with Willian, Neymar and Gabriel Jesus


Brazil’s second pre-World Cup training session featured Willian in attack alongside Neymar and Gabriel Jesus, a hint that coach Tite might change his starting line-up. 

Willian played with the two star strikers for about one hour on Thursday at the Granja Comary ground in Teresopolis, outside Rio de Janeiro. 

Tite did not use his starting midfield to play with the trio. He also used defenders Marquinhos and Miranda during the entire hour, suggesting former captain Thiago Silva will be on the bench for the moment. 

If Willian is brought in to the team, Tite could remove midfielder Renato Augusto from the starting line-up, put Philippe Coutinho in his place, and open a gap up for Willian. 

Since last year, Tite has said he needs a “pacemaker,” and considers Coutinho one of his main options for the role. 

Beijing Guoan’s Augusto is under pressure after unconvincing performances in Brazil’s midfield. 

Augusto’s spot is also eyed by Fred, one of the surprise inclusions of Tite’s squad. 

The midfielder said he admired Brazil players who began a World Cup on the bench and later became starters, such as Mazinho (1994) and Kleberson (2002). 

“We can get inspiration from them, these players worked very hard to get their spot,” Fred said. “But if I have to be out I will keep working hard.” 

Fred also said he was torn between a transfer to Manchester United or Manchester City. 

Fred, who has said he believes his future is outside Ukraine, admitted he received an offer from City in January. It’s understood both United and City are now in talks with Shakhtar Donetsk over a summer transfer. 

“Maybe after the World Cup I will make the choice,” the midfielder said. “Now I am only thinking about the World Cup.” 

Tite currently has 18 out of his 23 players available to him for Brazil’s pre-World Cup training.

Winger Douglas Costa and Fagner are still recovering from injury while Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino and Real Madrid’s Casemiro and Marcelo will join on Monday after the Champions League final. 

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