With their galaxy of stars and a point to prove, it is no surprise Brazil are favourites for the whole World Cup , let alone Group E.
Their options in attack are a vast improvement on 2014, when they were hosts, with Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino of Liverpool and Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho all ready to rumble.
The Samba stars have quality in every position.
And in coach Tite they have a man who has inspired them to regain their mojo.
Two years ago, the much-travelled 57-year-old boss inherited a side sitting sixth in the South American qualifying group with a third of the campaign gone.
The ghosts from that humiliating 7-1 semi-final defeat by Germany on home soil four years ago were clearly still haunting them.
Such was Tite’s impact, Brazil reeled off 10 wins and two draws, scoring 30 goals and conceding just three.
No wonder Willian has faith in his manager.
“He is the one,” said the Chelsea winger. “He is the one who changed a lot of things. That’s why Brazil now play great football. With the ball. Without the ball.
“Off the pitch, he is a great guy as well. Great manager. That’s why Brazil are in this position now.”
Willian also believes Russia 2018 will be the World Cup where Jesus becomes a global superstar.
The 21-year-old City striker heads into the tournament on the back of 19 goals for club and country and winners medals from both the League Cup and the Premier League.
His international team-mates have already compared him to Brazilian legend Ronaldo.
Willian added: “He is so young and he can improve a lot. But he is a fantastic player. Of course he is going to learn more from the players around him, but I think he can reach that level.
“Ronaldo was phenomenal. Gabriel is just starting out. But he has a great future if he continues to improve. He can have a great future and maintain a great level. It depends on him.
“I like the way he plays. I like the way he does things off the pitch. He is a great guy. It depends on him.”
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