Here it is, exactly as Tite read it out:
Goalkeepers: Alisson (Roma), Cássio (Corinthians), Ederson (Man City)
Defenders: Danilo (Man City), Geromel (Grêmio), Filipe Luís (Atlético Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Marquinhos (PSG), Miranda (PSG), Fágner (Corinthians), Thiago Silva (PSG)
Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Man City), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk), Paulinho (Barcelona), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Willian (Chelsea)
Attackers: Douglas Costa (Juventus), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Jesus (Man City), Neymar (PSG), Taison (Shakthar Donetsk)
The Twelve Reserves: Tite opted to only make one of these public, Dedé of Cruzeiro, but it has since been leaked that Rodrigo Caio is on the list as well.
Zetona’s Hot Take™:
First of all, I all-but nailed Tite’s selection. (I was less accurate with his reserves, but shhhhhhh.) I even called him opting not to take Willian José as a target man because our forwards demonstrated how good they were in the air; he admitted as much in his press conference today. My only error was thinking he’d take Arthur ahead of Taison, and even then, I hedged my bet by saying that Taison was the most likely option if he didn’t take Arthur. No real surprises, then. And of the players Tite was likely to call (he never showed any interest in Allan, for instance), this is quite a good selection on the whole.
With Dani Alves injured, we were always going to see Danilo and Fágner (the CBF is spelling his name with an accent, so now I am too) at right-back. I have a lot more faith in Danilo than some of you, but regardless of which one starts, this is likely to still be a problem position (not that it wasn’t with Alves). Geromel’s selection at CB is a fine cap to a journeyman career, and while it was expected and he’s certainly really good—vastly better than when Luiz Felipe Scolari called Henrique over Marquinhos or Miranda in 2014—I would rather have seen the younger, more versatile Rodrigo Caio. Cássio really will only have an impact in the dressing room, and Filipe Luís was always going to be named left-back as long as he recovered from his broken leg in time.
The only really interesting choice, given that Douglas Costa and Fred indeed appeared to lock up their places after the March friendlies, is Taison over Arthur for that wild-card spot. Taison appeared to lose out to Costa over the winter, as he entered a long goalless drought and didn’t impress with Brazil. That Tite has included him anyway may speak to something I’ve nagged about for a while: there’s not all that much pace in this squad. Neymar and Costa are rockets, but beyond them there was only really Willian, whose pace is more over explosive bursts of acceleration than the sustained running that can exploit a stretched defense. Adding Taison gives another option off the bench if we’re chasing games, and one who’s more capable of playing through the middle than Costa is, as well as another option on the flanks should Coutinho end up playing through the middle.
Two other things played into Taison’s favor. First, he reclaimed his form—after going goalless since mid-September, he’s scored five goals in eight games since the start of April, including this extraordinary solo effort:
— FC SHAKHTAR ENGLISH (@FCShakhtar_eng) May 5, 2018
Second, Tite has talked at length about wanting character and leadership in the squad, and Taison has that in spades. Where it really struck me was in the first match of Shakhtar’s the Champions League round of 16 against Roma, where he picked up an early injury that seemed like it would force him out of the game, but he fought through it, got back on the pitch, and was one of Shakhtar’s best players in a 2-1 first-leg win. Two of Tite’s assistants were in attendance, and I’m sure that performance stuck with them (as Fred’s match-winning free kick clearly did).
I still would rather have seen Arthur, both for the long-term future of the Seleção and for the prospect of adding more quality in midfield, and I think there were more technically gifted options if Tite wanted to add pace and technique up front (Felipe Anderson, anybody?) For all we rag on Taison, though, he’s a pretty good player hitting very good form whose specific qualities help the team in dimensions where they’re otherwise shorthanded. Add to that his mentality and I don’t think this is all that bad a selection, even if I would rather have seen someone else get this spot.
A last note: the squad’s average age is 28.1. That’s about six months younger than the 2010 squad, three months younger than 2006, three months older than 2014, and two years older than 2002.