Brazil come into this winter’s tournament in Qatar as favourites to lift the World Cup. And you’d have a hard time disagreeing with the bookmakers’ pricing.
The Brazilian squad is enough to make your mouth water and an underrated factor will be how they’ll be able to deal with the climate. You’d envisage that the South American nations will feel more at home than a side from Europe like England.
Brazil were dumped out of the 2018 World Cup in Russia by Belgium in the quarter-finals, I’m sure they’ll be expecting better this time around.
Below I’ve cracked down on their qualifying campaign to get numbers for goals, shots, corners and fouls so you can take your picks of the bookie markets in any of Brazil’s World Cup matches, from matchday 1 through to the final stages (I suspect). Take a swipe through my Stats Pack Guide on how to use the stats to pick a winner.
One thing that the Brazil team enjoy doing is outperforming their xG. For instance, their xG For per game was 2.04 whereas they ended up averaging 2.35 goals per game during qualifying. As well as that, their xG for qualification was 34.66 but they outperformed that with the 40 goals scored which was far more than every other side in South America.
The accuracy of Brazil’s attempts on goal is impressive. They averaged 13.28 shots per 90 with their on-target average being 5.89. Not a million miles away from half of their shooting output being on target.
The qualifiers Brazil were involved in were good for cards. They averaged 4.90 cards per game and they were able to draw 2.80 from their opponents. It’s always going to be the case when you’ve got a handful of tricky forwards who can draw fouls. Neymar was fouled 5.0 times per 90 in qualifying and for Antony it was 3.33.
When it comes to formations, Brazil tinkered during World Cup qualifying and ended up rotating between three different but similar shapes. They mostly set up in a classic 4-4-2, but they also spent an almost equal amount of time in 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1.
The scary thing about Brazil is their depth, mostly in attacking areas. So, you could imagine Gabriel Jesus, Neymar, Vinicius Jr and Raphinha in attacking areas, but then you’ve also got to take into account the likes of Richarlison, Cunha, Coutinho, Antony, Rodrygo and so on.
Neymar will likely be the first name on the teamsheet and he’s now one of the most experienced. He’s now on the wrong side of 30, time flies. The PSG man was incredibly influential during qualifying, he scored eight times, registered eight assists, and only Lionel Messi and Bolivia’s Marcelo Moreno had more shots than him.
Brazil will be buoyed going into the tournament as their squad looks extremely close to full fitness. Their only possible doubt was Richarlison who appeared to be at risk of missing out on the tournament, but Antonio Conte insisted he’ll be fit.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
It’s just like watching Brazil. Again, this squad of players is frightening. During the South American qualifying process, there were 10 Brazil players who averaged at least one shot on target per 90 minutes.
Neymar was the most influential Brazilian during qualifying and he was having over two shots on target per 90 mins. In terms of the data, he averaged a total of 4.10 shots p/90 with 2.10 hitting the target. It’d be surprising if he’s not involved in every game for Brazil this winter.
Raphinha, Antony and Richarlison all averaged over 1.50 shots on target per 90 minutes. It remains to be seen which attacking players will line up against Serbia, but one thing we all know is that manager Tite is spoiled for choice.
Player Goals and Assists
Again, Neymar is the man. He just about outperformed his xG with the eight goals that he scored during qualifying for the Qatar World Cup. No Brazilian came close to him with his 16 goal contributions across 10 appearances.
Richarlison was next up with his six goals in eight, an impressive return considering he pretty much double his expected goals of just 3.19.
Barcelona’s Raphinha contributed towards five of Brazil’s 40 goals during the qualification process. He’ll go to Qatar having scored a brace during his nations’ last match which was a 5-1 win over Tunisia in an international friendly.
Paqueta, Firmino and Coutinho are all worth a mention. Although the latter has been disappointing at club level since making the permanent switch to Aston Villa. Lucas Paqueta is highly admired within the Brazilian ranks; he made the joint-most appearances (14) in qualifying alongside Marquinhos. It’s just a shame that West Ham haven’t been able to see much as of yet.
As for Firmino, he won’t be first choice, but he has been the bright spark during a poor start to the season from Liverpool.
Brazil Cards (For)
As well as being the biggest contribution when it comes to goals, Neymar did the same when it came to cards. He picked up four cards during his 10 appearances.
Fred is next up with his three bookings in eight, and he also averages 2.00 fouls per 90 minutes which is more than any other player on the stats pack. He’s the anchor who sits deep in midfield, alongside his United teammate Casemiro, and they’re both tasked with breaking up play when possession is lost.
Man United’s Fred and Casemiro have to be a pair to keep an eye on if you’re ever considering backing Brazil cards during the tournament. With all the attacking talent that they possess, you can see where bookings could come from. Committing too many players forward and leaving the United generals to commit a cynical foul.
Marquinhos and Thiago Silva stand out ahead of the group stages getting underway. Their biggest rival in the group is likely to be Serbia who have Mitrovic and Vlahovic up front, that will make for a fascinating battle when they meet on the 24th November.
Brazil Cards (Against)
Brazilian footballers are renowned for their flair, and this crop of players is no different. Neymar in particular draws 5 fouls a game, and that’s not even been skewed by lack of minutes.
With Neymar in his more focal position in the centre, as well as Antony (3.33), Raphinha (2.34) and Vinicius on the wings to add to defenders’ woes, there’s a few group stage foul-makers to watch out for. Serbia’s Strahinja Pavlović and Switzerland’s Nico Alvedi and Fabian Schar will have the ref’s eagle eyes on them against Brazil.
Other than the wingers, Brazil don’t lack the dribblers in midfield with Bruno Guimaraes and Lucas Paqueta attempting 2.44 and 1.56 dribbles per 90 respectively in the Premier League. They’re brought down 3.33 and 1.67 times per 90 too.
They’ll be the responsibilities of midfield enforcers like Andre Anguissa (Cameroon) and Granit Xhaka (Switzerland) in the group stages.