The five-time champions have only won two of their first five qualifiers and are now preparing to face the defending champions at the Maracana on Tuesday. Brazil is not accustomed to desperate, must-win situations outside of major tournaments. However, they find themselves in a intense qualifying campaign for a World Cup that is still three years away.
CONMEBOL qualifying is highly competitive, with each team playing 18 matches for just four automatic spots at the tournament. With the expansion to a 48-team tournament, six South American teams can now qualify, with a seventh heading to an intercontinental playoff. Despite this, Brazil is in a precarious position as they currently sit fifth in the standings after winning just two of their first five games.
Leading up to Tuesday’s match against Argentina, Brazil faces the risk of dropping out of the automatic qualification slots with a defeat and results going against them. This doesn’t reflect the talent of a squad full of stars from European games and promising young players.
It’s surprising to see Brazil in this situation, as their fans expect them to win every World Cup regardless of their own and their opponents’ strengths. These qualifying games were intended to be a preparation for the real thing, but Brazil is now in a tough spot and it’s unclear how they got to this stage.