Ahead of a double header of friendly matches for Brazil, including one against England at Wembley, Rivaldo talks exclusively about the current squad, the excitement at facing the big nations, and the teams he expects to raise their game in Russia next summer...
"When I was playing for Brazil, these kind of big clashes were my favourite and I believe that players such as Philippe Coutinho and Neymar are eager to make an impression on the pitch."
Tite making final adjustments in the squad
After such an excellent South American qualifying phase from his national team, Tite has no need to produce many changes in the squad as we can see from the players he has picked for these upcoming friendlies.
Diego and Diego Souza will have their chance to convince the manager, and just like Cássio, are missing their club's fixtures at a crucial moment of Brazilian Championship, but we all know that any player loves to play for his national team.
Even if the clubs could feel a little upset about it, it's fair to mention that Tite needs to evaluate his players before the World Cup, so he has to bring the players he wants in order to observe them properly.
Japan as warm-up before England clash
Brazil have two friendlies between Friday and next Tuesday and I'm expecting Tite to give an opportunity to most of his players.
The team is very confident after good exhibitions and results recently and should have no problems to beat Japan. The match could begin a little tough, but with so many Brazilian fans in Paris, and all the media around Neymar, I believe that Brazil will play seriously and will end up winning this comfortably.
On Tuesday, it's time to face England - a much bigger threat with lots of tradition and also a World Cup title.
These are the matches that any player likes to play, against the stronger teams. When I was playing for Brazil, these kind of big clashes were my favourite and I believe that players such as Philippe Coutinho and Neymar are eager to make an impression on the pitch.
For that reason, and even considering that would be a much tougher match than Japan, Brazil ([1.88] to win) should have conditions to beat the English team at the magnificent Wembley Stadium.
Brazil are always favorites at World Cups; but don't discount Argentina and Italy
With the World Cup getting closer, it's time to check the favourites, who tend to be the same in every competition.
Brazil - [7.2] - are obviously among the favourite to be crowned world champions, but in these kinds of competitions any distraction could be crucial. After the group phase, each match is decisive and that leads to lots of pressure. I reached two World Cup Finals and I can say it was hard to achieve it.
Other fancied nations are Argentina, [9.8], and Italy, [23.0].
Many could argue that Argentina were below par at South American qualifying, but Brazil had the same problem to qualify into the 2002 World Cup, and ended up World Champions. They have players with vast experience and when the time comes they'll be ready to compete at the highest level.
The same could be said about Italy, which is still fighting for their place at the World Cup. Believe me, if they get there, we must take them seriously.
The Italians are specialists in getting results, no matter what they need to do to achieve it. Their defensive skills are superb, and getting through the group phase, they could create lots of problems in matches with lots of pressure.
All the traditional national teams must be considered by now, and even if they are not referred as potential winners, everything can happen in the latter stages of a competition like this.