Roberto Firmino scored twice as Brazil eased past Bolivia 5-0 in a dominant display to kick off their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Brazil barely raised a sweat in their opening CONMEBOL qualifier on Friday, outclassing Bolivia thanks to Firmino's brace, while Marquinhos and Philippe Coutinho were also on target, to go with a Jose Carrasco own goal.

Tite's Brazil had not played since their 3-0 win over South Korea in a November friendly after the coronavirus pandemic forced World Cup qualifying to be postponed in March, but the Selecao did not look like a team featuring for the first time in 2020.

Brazil dominated from the outset and they should have scored two goals inside three minutes, however, Everton and Marquinhos wasted golden opportunities in the pouring Sao Paulo rain.

Marquinhos, who glanced a header wide in the third minute, made no mistake in the 16th minute as he got on the end of a Danilo cross and headed powerfully past Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe to open the scoring.

Bolivia could not get close to Brazil and the visitors almost conceded again after Coutinho's shot from the top of the penalty area took a wicked deflection and skidded off the turf, forcing Lampe into a fine diving save.

Bolivia's non-existent defending was exposed when Renan Lodi made an unmarked run and whipped a ball across the six-yard box for Firmino to tap home.

Brazil continued where they left off in the second half after Firmino netted within four minutes of the restart – Neymar playing a ball to his team-mate, who routinely poked home.

Weverton – playing in the absence of injured number one goalkeeper Alisson – had nothing to do until he was called into action by Bruno Miranda's rising shot in the 50th minute.

Brazil showed no mercy as Carrasco deflected the ball into his own net past the hour mark, before Neymar provided the cross for the onrushing Coutinho to head home emphatically with 17 minutes remaining.

 

What does it mean? Brazil dance to their own beat

Brazil took to the field for the first time in almost a year and the South American giants did not look off the pace, unlike rivals Argentina on Thursday. Albeit against weaker opposition, Brazil kicked off their road to Qatar 2022 in ruthless fashion.

Neymar pulls the strings

The Paris Saint-Germain superstar was not on the scoresheet, but he produced a great performance. After shaking off a back problem, Neymar was at the heart of Brazil's big moments, providing a pair of assists in his 102nd international appearance.

Sorry Bolivia

It was always going to be an uphill battle for South America's whipping boys. Bolivia – beaten 3-0 by Brazil in their last meeting at the 2019 Copa America – rarely threatened, pegged back in their own half for the majority of the contest.

What's next?

Brazil will face Peru on Tuesday, while Bolivia host Lionel Messi's Argentina on the same day.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar is doubtful for Brazil's opening World Cup 2022 qualifier against Bolivia with a back injury.

Footage on social media this week showed Neymar putting his hand on his lower back and keeling on the floor in pain during a training session.

He was unable to train on Thursday and Tite is now preparing to be without his key man for Friday's clash in Sao Paulo, with Flamengo's Everton Ribeiro on standby.

Brazil's team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar confirmed a decision will be made on Neymar's availability on Friday and Tite added: "We will have to wait and see.

"If we are without Neymar then it will be Everton in his place."

Brazil are already without goalkeeper Alisson and striker Gabriel Jesus but Tite still has a deep squad to choose from for the double-header with Bolivia and Peru.

Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro will captain the side in the absence of Dani Alves, who is regaining fitness after an injury layoff, while Weverton and Douglas Luiz will also start.

"The captain for tomorrow's game is Casemiro," Tite said. "He is one of the captains, one of the leaders we have.

"We have three great goalkeepers but Weverton has played at a high level.

"Douglas Luiz is another. We want to give him greater freedom to attack from the left side. He needs to be able to supply the man up front."

Brazil will belatedly get their qualifying campaign up and running after the first four rounds of fixtures were called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Selecao won the 2019 Copa America but have advanced past the quarter-final stage of the World Cup just once since 2002, when they won the fifth of their titles.

That occasion was on home soil in 2014, in which they suffered a humiliating 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany.

"It is about enjoying the pressure," Tite said at his pre-match news conference on Thursday. "It is my responsibility to make decisions and win titles.

"I have the opportunity to be a world champion with Brazil. But this is a team under construction."

Vinicius Junior has paid tribute to Karim Benzema for selflessly taking the young Brazilian under his wing when he first made the move to Real Madrid.

Los Blancos paid a reported €45million for Vinicius in May 2017, the winger joining from Flamengo the following year when he turned 18.

Vinicius has already played 72 times for the club but struggled for consistency despite often catching the eye with his skilful style of play.

He has started 2020-21 in encouraging fashion, however, scoring the winning goal in the 1-0 victory over Real Valladolid, before getting the opener in a 2-0 win at Levante last weekend.

That was the first time he had scored in consecutive LaLiga matches, hinting the 20-year-old is beginning to find some continuity alongside Benzema in attack.

And Benzema is regarded particularly fondly by Vinicius for the role he played in his Madrid career.

"Karim is an idol, it is an honour to play with him," Vinicius told RMTV. "We always talk about what I can improve, also how he can help me.

"When I arrived, he did not know me but he still started to help me. He helped, and now he continues to do so, he tells me to be calm and helps me make the best decisions.

"It is a dream to play with Karim and with all the players who are here. I take advantage of all the moments with everyone and I listen a lot because they help.

"They know that I listen a lot and I learn with them."

When Vinicius first joined Madrid, comparisons with former Blanco Robinho were understandable – flashy tricks were a common theme and he often lacked decisiveness in the final third.

But he feels he has matured already and that he is a completely different player.

"I arrived at the age of 18 and having played only in Brazil, so everything was new for me," he added.

"I was learning and I continue to do so to help Madrid. Now I am another player. The people at Madrid help me so that I can help now and in the future.

"I'm very good, very happy with my moment, but also with the team. We have to continue like this, improving the things that we are not doing in this different season because we only had a friendly and it is difficult to start."

Neymar made a surprise appearance on Everton's social media channels on Wednesday as he presented his Brazil team-mate Richarlison with an award.

Richarlison was belatedly named Everton's Player of the Season for the 2019-20 campaign, which was heavily disrupted due to coronavirus.

The 23-year-old – who joined Everton from Watford in 2018-19 – scored 15 goals in 41 appearances across all competitions for the Toffees last term.

He has made no secret of his admiration for Neymar, who he has played with at international level, and the Paris Saint-Germain superstar made a guest appearance to present Richarlison with the award.

"Hey Richarlison, I am so happy for you, congratulations on your season," Neymar said in a video published on Everton's official Twitter feed.

"Here it is, your Player of the Season award for Everton. Congratulations on this achievement, I know you're the first Brazilian [to win this award].

"I'm very happy for you. I hope you keep on scoring goals, helping your club, your team-mates and you know that I am always wishing you the best.

"All the best, congratulations, here's your trophy. It's a great pleasure for me to give it to you."

Richarlison tweeted: "Today is a very special day for me. Receiving the best player of the season award, playing by one of the most traditional clubs in Europe, and from the hands of a guy who is my childhood idol, but who also became a team mate and a friend that the football gave me is kinda surreal.

"Thanks, Everton! Thank you, fans! And thanks for the surprise and the message, Neymar. I haven't words for thank you for all affection."

Buoyed by the signings of James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure, Everton have made an impressive start to 2020-21.

Richarlison is yet to score, but provided two assists and was directly involved in four goals in Everton's 5-2 win over West Brom last time out.

Neymar and Thiago Silva featured in the Brazil squad selected by head coach Tite on Friday for the World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia and Peru.

The five-time World Cup winners had been due to get their campaign underway in March, but the coronavirus pandemic forced a delay until October.

Tite named a 23-man pool including seven Premier League-based players, with veteran Chelsea recruit Silva among them following his move from Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG superstar Neymar featured among a squad of attacking players including Liverpool's Roberto Firmino, Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus, Everton's Richarlison and Real Madrid's Rodrygo.

Barcelona winger Philippe Coutinho, whose Camp Nou future is unclear following Ronald Koeman's arrival as Quique Setien's successor, was also called in for the October games.

Brazil face Bolivia in Sao Paulo on October 9 before travelling to tackle Peru in Lima four days later, as their bid to reach Qatar 2022 begins.

Palmeiras defender Gabriel Menino and Lyon midfielder Bruno Guimaraes will be involved for the first time in a Brazil squad gathering.

 

Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Santos (Athletico-PR), Weverton (Palmeiras); Rodrigo Caio (Flamengo), Danilo (Juventus), Felipe (Atletico Madrid), Renan Lodi (Atletico Madrid), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Gabriel Menino (Palmeiras), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Alex Telles (Porto); Casemiro (Real Madrid), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona), Fabinho (Liverpool), Bruno Guimaraes (Lyon), Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo); Everton (Benfica), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Richarlison (Everton), Rodrygo (Real Madrid).

Brazil's men's and women's teams have been paid at the same rate since March and will continue to be treated equally moving forward, CBF president Rogerio Caboclo has announced.

In what the CBF described as an "unprecedented measure", Brazil Women - led by captain Marta - receive the same daily wages and prize money as the five-time men's world champions.

Caboclo revealed the change at a news conference as Duda Luizelli and Aline Pellegrino were hired as the CBF's new women's football coordinators.

"Since March of this year, the CBF has paid an equal value in terms of prizes and daily rates between men's and women's football," Caboclo said.

"The men's players earn the same as the women's players during their call-ups. What they receive daily, the women also receive.

"What the men will gain by winning or advancing at the Olympics next year will be the same as the women will have.

"What men will receive at the next World Cup will be proportionally equal to what is proposed by FIFA.

"There is no more gender difference, as the CBF is treating men and women equally."

Shanghai SIPG midfielder Oscar would be interested in playing for China if FIFA allowed him to switch international allegiances.

The former Chelsea man has won 47 senior caps for Brazil and won the 2013 Confederations Cup with his home country, but his last appearance was in a World Cup qualifying win over Peru in November 2015.

Oscar moved to the Chinese Super League in December 2016 and would meet requirements to become a naturalised Chinese citizen next year.

FIFA regulations prohibit a player changing national teams if they have made a competitive senior international appearance, but Oscar would consider representing China if the rules are changed.

"As far as I can, I can think about," the 28-year-old told CGTN, the English-language arm of state television CCTV.

"It's difficult to go to Brazil national team now because I'm here, but in China everyone sees how good I play.

"If in the end, if the China national team need one good midfielder, so I can help if they change. I like China but I think the players now, if they go to change the nationality to go to China, they can do better also."

There has been an influx of foreign players joining the CSL in recent years as huge investment in the competition made it possible for clubs to offer significant wages, although the introduction of a salary cap has controlled spiralling spending costs.

Oscar, who moved from Chelsea for a reported €61million, has already seen Brazilian-born Elkeson play for China after gaining citizenship, although the Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao forward had never played for his country of birth.

Sunday, June 21 is the 50th anniversary of the 1970 World Cup final in which Brazil destroyed Italy 4-1 in Mexico City.

Rob Bateman recalls a tournament, team and star player that live long in the memory...

 Growing up in England with football in the 1960s and 1970s was very different from today.

The foreign superstars playing in English football were from the rest of Great Britain and Ireland, not from mainland Europe or South America.

The best teams and players in the world weren’t on TV every week. There was no live football on television apart from the FA Cup final, the Home Internationals and World Cups.

Great Britain was an island, both geographically and in terms of football.

It wasn’t too different across Europe. Live games were not regularly shown, in domestic or UEFA competitions.

As a result, there was no homogenised football where teams played roughly the same style. There was no internet, no YouTube, no sports channels to catch glimpses of football outside your own country. When a World Cup came around you saw players you had only read about in books or newspapers.  

You saw genuinely new things that delighted, enthralled and shocked the viewing audience, such as the famous Cruyff turn, the ticker tape at Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires and fouls in the opposition half by a "rush goalie" like Ramon Quiroga of Peru.

But nothing stands out in that era as much as the Brazil side of 1970. Still vaunted as the best team ever in some quarters, it’s hard to argue against the fact that they, and their talisman Pele, had the greatest impact on world football.

From the iconic yellow shirts, blue shorts and white stockings in the first competition to be broadcast live in colour, to their beautiful and effective style of play. Kenneth Wolstenholme's famous description of their "sheer, delightful football" summed up how Brazil in 1970 captured the hearts of all fans and encapsulated everything great about the world’s favourite sport.

Mario Zagallo became the first man to win the trophy as a player and then a coach. His team was the first since the 1930s to win all their World Cup matches en route to the trophy.

Six games, six wins in qualifying. Then six games and six wins at the finals, scoring at a rate of 3.2 goals per game in Mexico. Only one team has averaged more goals per game since 1958 than this brilliant Brazil side and that was Hungary in 1982 whose average was boosted by a freak 10-1 win over El Salvador.

This 1970 Brazil squad scored three or more goals in five of their six matches; a feat only matched in World Cup history by the West German side of 1954.

Jairzinho scored in all six matches, becoming the only player to net in every single round at the World Cup finals, although they needed to be prolific as they only kept one clean sheet in the six matches they played.

Of course, Brazil are famed for their long-range shooting. Stats Perform have analysed all the World Cup finals matches back to and including 1966. During that time, the Selecao have scored 37 times from outside the box – 11 more than closest rivals Germany and over double any other side.

It’s not just quantity though, it’s quality of shot – only South Korea (6 per cent) have scored with a higher percentage of their long distance attempts than Brazil who have netted one in every 23 attempts (4.4 per cent).

Team

Goals (outside box)

Brazil

37

Germany

26

Netherlands

16

Korea Republic

14

Argentina

13

And they have netted 13 from direct free-kicks, more than double any other team at the World Cup in that same period.

Team

Direct Free Kick Goals

Brazil

13

Germany

6

Korea Republic

5

Argentina

5

Between 1966 and 2018, only nine teams have scored two direct free-kicks at a World Cup finals. Four of those teams were Brazilian squads including the 1970 vintage.

There are so many iconic moments that the 1970 tournament lingers stronger in the memory than any other. And Brazil and Pele were at the heart of most of those.

Bobby Moore’s tackle on Jairzinho, Pele leaping to power home a header for Brazil’s 100th goal at the World Cup finals and another header by the world’s greatest footballer to force arguably the best save of all time by Gordon Banks.

There was Pele’s audacious shot from his own half (59 yards) against Czechoslovakia which narrowly missed and that wasn’t even his longest attempt as he failed with a shot from 75 yards against Uruguay!

The Uruguayans were also on the end of one of the most outrageous dummies ever seen as Pele ran toward a pass with the goalkeeper advancing and then let the ball run between them, confounding the goalkeeper by running straight past, retrieving the ball, only to screw his shot wide and deny us one of the most outrageous goals of all time.

And, of course, one of the most iconic goals in football history as Brazil netted their fourth goal in the final against Italy courtesy of Carlos Alberto. That goal was the epitome of the style that team oozed. A patient build-up, then devastating speed and clinical efficiency in front of goal.

 

That goal saw nine passes, but was typical of Brazil’s measured build-up. They averaged far more moves of 10 passes or more than any other team at the 1970 finals.

Team

Sequences per game of 10+ open play passes

Brazil

5.2

England

3.5

Czechoslovakia

2.7

Peru

2.5

Romania

2.3

 

 

Tournament average

1.9

And as you can see below they were prepared to hang on to the ball to find the right moment to strike, performing with the grace and rhythm of a slow, quick, quick of the Samba.

Team

Ave passes/sequence

Ave Sequence time (secs)

Brazil

3.6

11.5

Germany

3.1

10.6

England

3.2

10.5

Romania

3.0

10.2

Czechoslovakia

3.0

10.0

That fourth and final goal against Italy was inevitably set up by Pele. That assist was his sixth of the tournament and remains a record tally for a single World Cup tournament that Stats Perform have analysed.

He created 28 chances in total, 27 from open play. Only Johan Cruyff (29) in 1974 has created more in a single tournament since 1970, having played a game more. 

Player

Team

Assists

Pele

Brazil 1970

6

Maradona

Argentina 1986

5

Littbarski

Germany 1982

5

Gadocha

Poland 1974

5

Häßler

Germany 1994

5

Pele was the second most prolific player in relation to attacking contribution at the 1970 World Cup when combining Expected Goals and Expected Assists per 90 minutes, scoring four goals and registering six assists. He was narrowly behind Gerd Muller who netted 10 goals, but those two are way out ahead of anyone else in the tournament.

 

It wasn’t all grace and guile though from the three-time World Cup winner.

Having been fouled repeatedly and injured in both the 1962 and 1966 editions, Pele certainly showed he knew how to look after himself in 1970. Only five players since 1966 have committed more fouls in a single tournament than the 23 the Brazilian playmaker was penalised for in the 1970 edition.

Pele retired from international football in 1971 and Brazil have spent many years since trying to emulate that 1970 team’s iconic achievement, with limited success.

Although they won the World Cup in 1994 and again in 2002, there were criticisms of those teams’ styles of play, while the beautiful attacking flair of the squads of 1982 and 1986 ultimately went unrewarded as they were knocked out of the tournament early.

Perhaps Andy Warhol was right when he said: "Pele is one of the few who contradicted my theory: instead of 15 minutes of fame, he will have 15 centuries."

Squad line-ups for the next Copa America could look vastly different by the time the tournament comes around following its postponement.

The newest edition of the competition was scheduled to start on Friday, but the coronavirus pandemic saw it pushed back by 12 months in March.

Some veteran players might now fade from the picture before the Copa America gets under way next year, while other stars will have time to recover from injury.

There could also be new faces on the scene, with a host of uncapped prospects given an extra campaign to break through.

With just under a year to go until the tournament starts, we take a look at five players who might emerge on the international scene before then.

GABRIEL MARTINELLI (BRAZIL)

Even beyond Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus and co, Brazil have a wealth of attacking talent.

Matheus Cunha and Paulinho each starred at this year's CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament and are already plying their trade in the Bundesliga, yet the nation's most outstanding prospect might reside in London.

Gabriel Martinelli is eligible for both Brazil and Italy, but the Selecao will surely move swiftly to cap-tie the forward, who has represented them at under-23 level. Indeed, he is one of just three teenagers to have reached 10 goals in all competitions across Europe's top five leagues this term, the other two being Erling Haaland (13 for Borussia Dortmund) and Mason Greenwood (12 for Manchester United).

Martinelli trained with Brazil last year aged 17 after starring for Ituano, and he has continued to impress in his first season at Arsenal – his solo goal against Chelsea in January a fine example of his talents, as he carried the ball 61.6 metres before scoring. Only Son Heung-min (71.4m) has travelled further with the ball in the build-up to netting in the Premier League this term.

 

Further progress in the coming weeks and next season would really give Tite something to think about.

 

CRISTIAN ROMERO (ARGENTINA)

Argentina have long had problems at centre-back, with Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi still a regular at international level. However, head coach Lionel Scaloni could soon have greater options to choose from, with younger talents now breaking through.

Nehuen Perez might well have gone to the 2020 Copa America, having been called up for the first time late last year after promising loan spells away from Atletico Madrid, while Borussia Dortmund's Leonardo Balerdi is also highly regarded.

But there's every chance Cristian Romero will leap ahead of both in the pecking order given his greater exposure to first-team football at a higher level, having earned a €26million move from Genoa to Juventus at the start of the season, before being loaned back.

It's not proven to be a straightforward season for Genoa, however. Although their form picked up before before the suspension, they will resume their season later this month just above the relegation zone.

Romero has played 21 of their 27 Serie A games - more than any of his defensive colleagues - and made 51 interceptions, a figure bettered by only Armando Izzo (58) among defenders in Italy's top flight.

Eight defenders have attempted more than his 40 tackles, but none of those above him have succeeded as often as him (68 per cent success). A difficult year it may have been, and reports suggest Juve could even sell him on again, but he has done relatively well despite the circumstances.

 

DIEGO ROSSI (URUGUAY)

Uruguay continue to rely on a number of their veterans of previous tournaments, but this will have to change in the coming months and years - especially in attack.

Although Luis Suarez remains a potent weapon, Edinson Cavani has shown signs of decline in the past year, while Cristhian Stuani is now playing in Spain's second tier. All three will be 34 years old by the time the tournament starts.

Diego Rossi should back himself to be in position to put pressure on that star trio. He left Penarol for Los Angeles FC aged 19 and has proven an instant hit in MLS, having a hand in 41 goals (12 assists, 29 goals) in 68 regular-season appearances – only three players have contributed more.

His ability to play effectively alongside another forward could also help his chances of breaking into the team – Rossi and Carlos Vela have created 84 chances for each other, the second-highest such figure in MLS since 2018, while in the same timeframe only Julian Gressel and Josef Martinez (18) have set up more goals for each other than the LAFC pair (16).

LAFC general manager John Thorrington has spoken of "significant interest" in Rossi from Europe, and such a move would give the forward a great chance of making the grade for Uruguay.

JORGE CARRASCAL (COLOMBIA)

Versatile River Plate attacking midfielder Jorge Carrascal will get fans off their seats if he manages to secure a place in the Colombia squad alongside club-mate Juan Quintero.

A tricky player, comfortable out wide or behind a striker, Carrascal debuted for Millonarios at just 16. He initially struggled after joining River Plate on loan from Ukraine's Karpaty Lviv last year, but he has shown glimpses of immense promise and been capped by Colombia's Under-23s.

Representing his country at youth level for the first time since 2015, the 22-year-old scored in each of his first three games at the Pre-Olympic Tournament and started all seven matches.

For River, the former Sevilla youngster - whose time in Spain was curtailed by injuries - has scored four goals and set up another in 17 matches across all competitions.

Running at defenders is his best quality, however. A flamboyant player, Carrascal has averaged 4.9 successful take-ons per 90 minutes in the Superliga this term, succeeding 53 per cent of the time. Only one under-23 player tries his luck more often in this regard - he certainly likes to entertain.

Who knows, a few successive starts could be all that stands in Carrascal's way before an international call-up - then his future will surely lead him back for another crack at Europe.


REINIER (BRAZIL)

It might seem a long shot for a player who has yet to feature for Real Madrid's first team and started only twice at the Pre-Olympic Tournament to be playing for Brazil's senior side in just over a year's time.

But Reinier will have the benefit of 12 months in the limelight at one of the world's biggest clubs. After signing from Flamengo for €30m, Reinier netted a brace in just his third Castilla appearance - his final match before the coronavirus crisis intervened.

The pre-season will be key if the 18-year-old is to get a chance at Madrid in 2020-21, and there is no reason why he could not then do enough to catch Tite's eye.

During his brief time in professional football back in Brazil, Reinier made 14 Brasileiro appearances and had a hand in eight goals (six assists, two goals), one every 118 minutes on average.

By comparison, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo were significantly less effective - they played a role in a goal every 239 minutes and 341 minutes, respectively, when they were in Brazil, yet both have enjoyed largely promising starts in Madrid.

Vinicius made the big-money move from Flamengo to Madrid in 2018 and had debuted for Brazil within 12 months of his LaLiga bow. The path is clear.

FIFA has confirmed three bids to host the Women's World Cup in 2023 have made it to the final stage of the process.

Proposals from Japan and Colombia have qualified, as has a joint bid from Australia and New Zealand.

The FIFA Council will hold an online meeting and vote on June 25 to select the successful bid for a tournament that will involve 32 nations for the first time.

FIFA's update came "following a detailed assessment of the bid books and visits to the bidding countries", as they published their Bid Evaluation Report.

"Three bids will be submitted to the FIFA Council in order for it to select the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 host(s)," added a statement from the governing body on Wednesday.

FIFA ranked the Australia-New Zealand bid as the "most commercially favourable" and the highest scoring overall with 4.1 points out of five. 

Japan (3.9) and Colombia (2.8) were behind, but both were over the required threshold and proceed to the vote.

The United States won the last Women's World Cup, which was hosted by France in 2019.

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said: "One year after the record-breaking eighth edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup in France, the FIFA Council will decide on the host(s) for the ninth edition of the tournament in 2023, which we hope will be even bigger and better. 

"The quality of the bids is testimony to the tremendous momentum women's football has generated.

"We are looking forward to building on this to take women's football to the next level at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023."

Brazil withdrew their proposal on Monday and will instead join the other South American nations in backing Colombia.

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said the current economic situation, fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic, was one of the reasons for its withdrawal.

It added that it would also be unfavoured due to hosting several big events in recent years, including the 2014 World Cup, 2016 Olympics and 2019 Copa America.

South America has never hosted a Women's World Cup, while Asia has done so twice – in China in 1991 and 2007.

Brazil has withdrawn its bid to host the 2023 Women's World Cup ahead of this month's vote.

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) announced the decision in a statement on Monday, with the vote to decide the hosts to be held on June 25.

It leaves three bids remaining – Australia and New Zealand, Japan and Colombia.

Brazil said the current economic situation, fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic, was one of the reasons for its withdrawal.

It added that it would also be unfavoured due to hosting several big events in recent years, including the 2014 World Cup, 2016 Olympics and 2019 Copa America.

"Thus, CBF decided to withdraw the Brazilian candidacy and support Colombia in the dispute for the host of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023," the statement added.

South America has never hosted a Women's World Cup, while Asia has done so twice – in China in 1991 and 2007.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola still dreams of managing a national team in the future, according to his brother Pere Guardiola.

Pep Guardiola has never hidden his desire to lead an international team at a major tournament and has been heavily linked with Argentina and Brazil in the past.

The Catalan coach previously suggested taking charge of Spain was "unlikely" and he has a contract with City until the end of next season.

Pere Guardiola, who is an agent, part owner of LaLiga side Girona and this week opened a branch of his Media Base Sports company in Brazil, said a role outside of the club arena still appeals to his brother.

Brazil has recently seen an increased investment in foreign coaches, with Jorge Jesus, Jesualdo Ferreira, Jorge Sampaoli, Eduardo Coudet and Rafael Dudamel all having spells in charge of top-flight clubs.

Asked if Guardiola could ever take charge of a Campeonato Brasileiro side or the Selecao, Pere Guardiola told Globo Esporte: "Brazil has won everything with Brazilian coaches. I think you have good coaches, you don't have to have only foreigners.

"Pep has a dream of coaching a national team someday, but we'll see how it goes; what will be the moment, if he will receive an offer.

"It is not something for the present."

City are set to lose their Premier League crown to Liverpool in 2019-20, as they sit 25 points off the leaders with 10 games left to play.

The defending champions are set to play their first game in three months on June 17, with the coronavirus pandemic having forced the season's suspension in March.

Pep Guardiola improved Douglas Luiz by "70 per cent" despite the Brazilian working with the coach for just a few months across his time at Manchester City.

Douglas Luiz joined City from Vasco da Gama as a teenager in 2017 but was swiftly sent out on loan to Girona for the 2017-18 season, before returning to the Spanish side for the following campaign.

Those temporary moves came either side of a full pre-season Douglas Luiz spent with Guardiola and the City senior squad, while he also teamed up with them briefly ahead of his permanent move to Aston Villa last July.

Although Douglas Luiz's exposure to Guardiola's coaching methods was limited, he was still able to appreciate just how good the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich tactician is.

"I have no words to explain him," Douglas Luiz told Vasco TV. "He's a guy who is focused on football, his life is football.

"For me, he is the best coach in the world. In two months, the guy managed to evolve more than 70 per cent of my potential.

"I have a lot of affection for him, I thank him so much for everything he did. I feel very honoured to have this affection from a great coach, who for me is the best, for my football."

Despite a promising second season with Girona and training with City's first team, when an offer reportedly worth £15million arrived from Villa, Douglas Luiz's days at Etihad Stadium were over.

It came as a surprise to the midfielder and, while City inserted a buy-back clause in the deal, at Villa he feels he has found a home not too dissimilar to Vasco.

"I didn't expect to be sold, but I think God knows everything," he said. "I am very happy in this great club that, for me, is like Vasco.

"It has its 'cauldron' [stadium], it has a very passionate crowd for the club. It is a club that is recognised throughout the country, and I'm sure the club is very happy.

"There is a clause that Manchester City can buy me in those first two years."

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