Rodrygo is confident he can deliver for Brazil at the World Cup as he looks to bring an end to 20 years of "suffering".

The South American giants open their campaign on Thursday against Serbia and are among the favourites in Qatar as they seek to end two decades of dominance from European nations.

Having triumphed in 2002, Brazil have since been knocked out at the quarter-finals in three of the last four tournaments, while being hammered 7-1 by Germany at the semi-final stage on home soil in 2014.

At 21, Rodrygo is too young to remember the last triumph by the five-time winners but has experienced his fair share of pain as a supporter and set his sights on involvement in Qatar following Brazil's defeat to Belgium four years ago.

"Man, we've been suffering for 20 years. I was crying when we lost in 2006," he wrote for the Player's Tribune.

"In 2010, I was in Osasco seeing people paint the streets green and yellow. Nobody was working. School? Forget it. It's not that I skipped school. There was no school. Even the teachers had fled.

"In 2014, I watched it with my dad in Minas Gerais. I prefer not to talk about it. I'm not even going to say the result.

Brazil must take advantage of having Neymar in his "best mode" at the World Cup, according to captain Thiago Silva.

Neymar heads to Qatar in supreme form. He has directly contributed to 26 goals for Paris Saint-Germain, scoring 15 and setting up a further 11 this season.

His tally of goal involvements is the joint-most in the top-five European leagues, along with Erling Haaland (23 goals, three assists) and club-mate Lionel Messi (12 goals, 14 assists).

With 75 international goals to his name, Neymar needs just three more to overtake Pele and become Brazil's all-time leading scorer.

Neymar's injury in the quarter-finals of Brazil's home world cup in 2014 is often cited as a major factor in the 7-1 thrashing to Germany that followed in the last four, while he struggled to carry the team in Russia four years later, with the Selecao losing to Belgium in the quarter-finals.

But with Vinicius Junior, Richarlison, Gabriel Jesus, Rodrygo and Raphinha supporting Neymar in attack, Silva believes Brazil have to make their attacking quality count.

"Neymar has a good level for this competition," Silva said in a press conference ahead of Brazil's clash with Serbia on Thursday.

"Now, without injury or worry, we see a better Neymar. Best of all, he is humble.

"Our group has welcomed all of our colleagues and in my opinion they will make Neymar even more at ease.

"We will share our responsibilities as players and that will help us move forward. I think we need to take advantage of this best Neymar mode."

It has been 20 years since Brazil won their fifth World Cup, and Silva – who was captain in 2014 but not in Russia – believes that only serves as extra inspiration.

"The 2002 win is a great inspiration for all of us," he explained. "We have images of all the World Cups we have won and that’s a source of inspiration and motivation so we can continue making history.

"We know it’s up to us. I know those who could lift the World Cup in the past have had beautiful stories. It makes me even more motivated to honour our jersey."

Silva believes the blend of youth and experience in Tite's squad is ideal, as the 38-year-old claimed his experience of captaining Brazil in their disappointing campaign on home soil has only benefitted his own development.

He said: "Nowadays I am better prepared. Sometimes we need to learn the hard way.

"Our coaches can tell us but in the end we are the ones who need to learn from our experiences. I am calm, I am at ease, having the trust of all my colleagues.

"I'm now enjoying the best version of Thiago Silva. I think I'm living the best moments of my career."

Brazil goalkeeper Ederson says the Selecao can only fulfil their World Cup dream if they have a "victorious mentality" over the coming weeks.

Tite's side are chasing a first success in football's most prestigious competition since 2002, with their campaign set to get underway on Thursday against Serbia in Group G.

Further challenges against Switzerland and Cameroon await them, as they look to end a two-decade wait at Qatar 2022, with many tagging them as the favourites.

But Manchester City stopper Ederson says any reputation will only be lived up to if they give it their all and keep their eyes on the prize.

"We know how difficult it is, but we have a good team with total capacity of reaching the final and trying to win it," he told his club's official website.

"We need to have this mentality, a victorious mentality. We need to think that we are going to be there, we will work to be there and that's what we'll do.

"A World Cup is a World Cup. When you talk about the World Cup, what comes into the mind of any player that can play it, is the image of him lifting the trophy - and it's no different to me.

"When I think about the World Cup, I imagine Brazil lifting the trophy."

Raphinha hopes Brazil will have reason to dance in celebration at the World Cup as he joked Tite's side have 10 routines rehearsed for goals.

Brazil are among the tournament favourites in Qatar ahead of their Group G opener on Thursday against Serbia as the Selecao aim for a first World Cup triumph since 2002.

Barcelona winger Raphinha was one of many to celebrate in support of Vinicius Junior, who was told in September by a Spanish journalist to stop dancing "to respect your mates and stop playing the monkey".

Gabriel Jesus, Neymar and Richarlison – all members of Tite's 26-man squad in the Middle East – were other notable supporters of Brazil team-mate Vinicius.

Raphinha appears a likely contender to start for the five-time world champions and he intends to give Brazil further reason to celebrate in style at the World Cup.

"To tell you the truth, we already have dances prepared for up to the 10th goal," an upbeat Raphinha said on Monday.

"We have some 10 dances prepared for each match, one for the first, one for the second, one for the third ... If we score more than 10, then we'll have to start innovating."

Pedro, Antony and Gabriel Martinelli are the other attacking options at Tite's disposal and Raphinha has no doubts Brazil will go out to play free-flowing football.

"With Vinicius we gain more speed on the attack, while with [Lucas] Paqueta we have more control near the midfield," former Leeds United forward Raphinha added.

"But Brazil has a characteristic of always being offensive-minded, no matter who gets to play."

Richarlison, like Raphinha, will be a World Cup debutant for Brazil after scoring 17 goals in his 38 appearances for the Selecao since his debut in 2018.

The Tottenham striker wants to produce performances befitting of the number-nine shirt handed to him as he aims to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Ronaldo Nazario.

"When you wear the number nine jersey with the Brazilian national team, all you want to do is score goals," Richarlison said. "With these team-mates, I'm sure the goals will come."

Neymar came into criticism for posting a photo with six stars on his shorts, referencing a hopeful Brazil triumph at the World Cup, but Richarlison has no problem admitting the Selecao's hopes.

"We are dreamers, we are going after this sixth star no matter what people are going to say," he added.

Richarlison says Brazil's players "will do everything" they can to win a record-extending sixth World Cup in Qatar.

Brazil are steeped in World Cup history, with more titles than any other country, though their fifth and most recent triumph came in 2002.

Tite's men head into the tournament in Qatar as one of the favourites having lost just one match since 2019, their Copa America final defeat to Argentina last year.

Richarlison will be playing in his first World Cup, having scored 17 goals in his 38 appearances for the Selecao since his debut in 2018.

The 25-year-old says he and his team-mates will do all they can to bring home the trophy, telling Eurosport: "If we will win? I don't know, but we will do everything to win the World Cup.

"I prefer that we work in silence, doing our job and doing our best every day. Certainly, Professor Tite [head coach] will prepare us well for a great World Cup."

The Tottenham forward believes Brazil deserve to be among the most fancied teams and is confident they will make an impression in Qatar, saying: "I think there are a lot of good teams, but we are Brazil.

"We have a lot of history, we've never been out of the World Cup and we're going to the World Cup to honour the shirt. We're definitely going to get something good for us."

Despite his belief in Brazil's prospects, Richarlison acknowledged other sides he feels have a chance, adding: "There are a lot of good teams.

"The defending champions, France. Belgium, for example, and Argentina, which has a good squad and won the Copa America."

Brazil open their World Cup campaign against Serbia on Thursday, before facing Switzerland and Cameroon in Group G.

Vinicius Junior feared he would miss Brazil's World Cup campaign through injury after being targeted by "dirty" challenges in the build-up to the tournament.

The Real Madrid winger has contributed to nine goals in LaLiga this season (six goals, three assists) – a tally only bettered by Robert Lewandowski (17) and Borja Iglesias (10).

Vinicius has also won 16 senior caps for Brazil after making his international debut in 2019, emerging as a key part of Tite's team ahead of the tournament in Qatar.

With the mid-season scheduling of the World Cup being criticised after several big-name players including Sadio Mane and Paul Pogba were ruled out through injury, Vinicius says both he and team-mate Rodrygo were targeted with unsavoury challenges by opponents.

"What happens on the field stays on the field, but it went too far," Vinicius told Reuters.

"You can come strong, but they were being dirty with their challenges. Rodrygo and I suffered a lot in those last games and feared the worst, to get injured and miss the World Cup.

"When you start to become an important player, rivals come after you harder. You have to learn to deal with that.

"I learned a lot from Neymar when he played for Barcelona, he suffered a lot too. Cristiano [Ronaldo], when he played for Real, suffered a lot too.

"But it was Karim [Benzema] who told me to stay calm and have peace of mind, because if the rivals are chasing you it is because you are relevant, because they are afraid of you.

"So that's why when I take the ball and burst forward, I do it with a vengeance. Yes, I can get hurt. But I'm prepared for the challenge."

Brazil get their quest for a sixth World Cup under way when they face Serbia on Thursday, looking to defend a fine group-stage record at recent editions of the tournament.

The Selecao are unbeaten in their last 15 World Cup group games, winning 12 (D3), with their last such defeat coming against Norway in 1998.

The Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA) is among six federations nominated for World Athletics’ Member Federation Award.

Brazilian players Rodrygo and Marquinhos have warned their teammates about the dangers of buying into their own hype, saying nothing good can come from expecting to win as favourites.

Boasting one of the strongest teams on paper, Brazil's squad includes world-class centerpieces such as Neymar and Vinicius Junior, and they have made two Copa America finals since the 2018 World Cup, winning in 2019 and falling 1-0 to Argentina in 2021.

They will also play in Group G, where they will be joined by Cameroon, Serbia and Switzerland in three matchups Brazil will be heavily favoured in.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Real Madrid's Rodrygo said while he understands the pressure on his side to perform in Qatar, he would prefer to let their play do the talking.

"We know that we have a great national team, that we are among the favourites," he said. "But there are also other very good teams as well.

"It's no use saying we are favourites and then arriving on the pitch and not showing it. We know that everyone was in good form with their clubs and that's why they're here – many good players were left out."

Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Marquinhos agreed, saying they will need to play hungry to fulfill their potential.

"If we think we are favourites, that we are the best, we will not go forward," he said. "We've seen how things are in this competition, which is very difficult. 

"All the teams are ready and very balanced, they can make life difficult. That's the [World] Cup. 

"It's no use coming here and talking about the future. We have to get through the [group stage] first. It will be three very difficult games."

Brazil kick off their campaign on Thursday, November 24 against Serbia.

Mauricio Pochettino believes Lionel Messi needs to win the World Cup with Argentina to "confirm" his status as the best player in the world.

Messi has won 11 league titles and four Champions League trophies over an illustrious club career.

However, international success has largely eluded Messi, having lost to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final and finishing as Copa America runner-up three times.

Though Messi finally did win the Copa America in 2021, Pochettino feels the 35-year-old needs to win international football's premier prize to certify him as the greatest player in the world.

"Like [Diego] Maradona or Pele, you need to confirm with the trophy," Pochettino told The Athletic. "When you lift the trophy, it's like, 'okay, he is the best in the world.'

"It is the only thing missing for Messi, to lift the World Cup, and I hope in Qatar that it happens.

"Because I am Argentinian, and of course my desire is for Argentina to win the World Cup, and to confirm Messi is one of the best, in the same place as Maradona and Pele."

Messi joined Paris Saint-Germain after leaving Barcelona in 2021, giving Pochettino an opportunity to watch him up close as his head coach.

It also allowed Pochettino to assess Messi against another Argentina great, Maradona, who Pochettino played with for a brief spell at Newell's Old Boys.

Asked to compare Messi and Maradona, Pochettino explained: "Both different, but both great. I don’t want to compare, because when you compare, you are trying to show one better than the other.

"I think for me, Messi, [whether] winning or not winning the World Cup, for me needs to be on the same level as Pele and Maradona. With different energy, different style, different personalities. But both great."

Pochettino's spell as PSG head coach lasted just 18 months, but during that period he also got to observe Neymar, who is hoping for World Cup success in Qatar with Brazil.

Pochettino rates Neymar as one of the best ever, saying: "The way he doesn’t feel the pressure, he is an amazing player. Very charismatic, with an amazing energy.

"We can say Neymar is one of the best players in the history of football. Maybe he didn’t achieve all that Messi achieved, or Cristiano [Ronaldo]. But the quality is in the same level."

Neymar revealed he and Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Lionel Messi joke about a potential World Cup final between Brazil and Argentina in Qatar.

Neymar and Messi, alongside Kylian Mbappe, form a fearsome front three for PSG, one that has fired them to a five-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 and reached the Champions League knockout stages.

But that alliance will be temporarily halted until PSG's next game on December 28, as the three superstars bid to win the World Cup for their respective countries.

While he was highly complimentary of Messi and Mbappe, Neymar jokingly hinted that he fancies his Brazil side's chances in a potential match-up with Messi's Argentina.

"We don't discuss it very much," Neymar told The Telegraph. "But sometimes we joke about crossing paths with each other in the final.

"I tell him [Messi] that I'll be champion and win against him and we have a good laugh.

"Playing with him and Kylian is a huge pleasure. They're two greats, with Messi long considered the best in the world.

"Kylian is a young player who’s been growing and showing his potential and still has a lot to grow. It's always great to play alongside the greats, I've always preferred that because the chances of winning are higher."

Neymar feels Brazil are one of the favourites, but also highlighted a number of other teams he believes are capable of making the final on December 18.

"The World Cup is full of surprises," he explained. "You get teams that unexpectedly get very far even in the competition even if many don't believe in them.

"But I believe the favourites are Argentina, Germany, Spain and France. I think those four along with Brazil are fully capable of reaching the final."

At the age of 30, the Qatar World Cup could be Neymar's last attempt at glory with Brazil, having fallen short in his two previous experiences at international football's premier tournament.

One of those was particularly painful, when Neymar suffered a back injury in a victorious quarter-final meeting with Colombia at Brazil's home tournament in 2014.

Neymar was ruled out of the semi-final with Germany, a match Brazil went on to lose by a humiliating 7-1 scoreline.

But the former Barcelona forward says his career would not feel incomplete if he were to never win the World Cup, saying: "No, in my career I've achieved things beyond my imagination.

"So, if it ended today, I would still be the happiest person in the world."

The number 10 jersey that Neymar dons for Brazil is steeped in history, having been worn by Selecao legends like Pele, Ronaldinho and Zico.

Neymar does not experience the pressure that could come with following those Brazilian idols, declaring: "I don't feel under pressure, quite the opposite.

"I'm happy to be able to wear the number 10 on the Brazilian team and make history. It's a great pride and honour to be part of the group of players that wore it and I only feel happiness about it."

Cafu is confident Brazil can end a 20-year wait for World Cup glory, backing Neymar to help "break Europe's dominance".

The former defender lifted the World Cup with Brazil in 2002, a triumph that marked the culmination of a prosperous period for the national side who won the tournament in 1994 and lost in the final to France four years later.

Since then, however, Brazil have fallen short of expectations and have been eliminated at the quarter-final stage in three of the past four tournaments – with the exception seeing them hammered 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals on home soil in 2014.

Brazil head to Qatar in excellent form, though, having stood undefeated across their 17 matches in qualifying, winning 14, and Cafu believes this is the ideal opportunity for the national side.

"It's a great opportunity to break Europe's dominance. It's the perfect time for Brazil to break the curse and win the title," he told AFP.

"Argentina and the Selecao are the two favourites. On the one hand, Brazil is coming off a very good season with great performances, on the other hand, Argentina also has a very good team. These two countries have great potential to win the World Cup.

"The fact that Brazil has not won the title for twenty years, it affects the fans a little bit and takes away a little credibility from the national team. But this year I think Brazil is back.

"With Neymar fit, we have a very good chance of winning the World Cup, because he is a player who really makes the difference on the pitch. We pin our hopes on his talent, but he doesn't play alone.

"By playing well, by being motivated, I'm sure he will motivate the other players and make them feel that they are important so that they can win."

Cafu is aware that a threat is posed by some European nations, however, identifying defending champions France and Brazil's Group G opponents Serbia as hurdles to overcome.

"Belgium, Denmark, Portugal and Serbia, as incredible as it may seem. Serbia qualified in first place in its group. They played very well in the World Cup qualifiers," he added.

"They have a strong team and are not afraid to play football against any opponent.

"France, too, will be very strong, as it was at the last World Cup. They will arrive with the label of reigning world champions and fight for the double. They will be one of the great teams to beat."

Brazil commence their World Cup campaign on November 24 against Serbia, before facing Switzerland and Cameroon in Group G.

Erling Haaland wishes he was able to play in the World Cup in Qatar, and has named Brazil and England among the teams he thinks could win it.

Haaland will not be present as Norway failed to qualify, finishing third in their group behind the Netherlands and Turkey, so the Manchester City striker will have some time off before domestic football in England resumes in late December.

The 22-year-old has scored 23 goals in 18 games in all competitions for City since joining from Borussia Dortmund earlier in the year, and says he will not overdo his training during the enforced break.

"I wished I played in the World Cup of course, but that's the reality now [that] I don't do [that], but I will relax my body and my mind a lot and then I will train," Haaland told Sky Sports.

"What I will train on? Nothing special I think, it's been going quite well my first months at City, so I don't need to do so many changes to be honest.

"It's about preparing myself for the next half of the season and be ready when the next game kicks in after the break."

When asked who he believes will win the World Cup, Haaland said: "I think the favourites should be Brazil, Argentina, France, and maybe England. I cannot only say one because there are so many good teams."

Haaland was only able to play in six of Norway's World Cup qualifiers, but he scored five goals before adding another six in six games in the Nations League, and the striker wants his country to qualify for future major tournaments.

"The biggest thing we can do is to get to either a World Cup or a Euros," he said. "That of course is my goal with the national team to do. We know it's difficult, but hopefully in the future one day I'll be able to play there."

Lionel Messi has named Brazil, France and England as his favourites to claim World Cup glory in Qatar.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner will feature at his fifth World Cup this year, when he will look to help Argentina to their first triumph at the tournament since 1986. 

Messi was named Player of the Tournament when Argentina reached the World Cup final in 2014, but the Paris Saint-Germain star believes other teams head to Qatar in a better position than the Albiceleste.

"Whenever we talk about candidates, we always talk about the same teams," Messi told South American football federation CONMEBOL.

"If I have to put some above others, I think Brazil, France and England are a little bit above the rest.

"But the World Cup is so difficult and so complicated that anything can happen."

 

All six of Messi's World Cup goals to date have been scored in the group stages, and he has failed to net in 756 minutes of action in the knockout rounds of the tournament.

However, Messi was in inspired form as Argentina finished as runners-up to Germany eight years ago, contributing to 63 per cent of his team's goals in Brazil (5/8, with four goals and one assist).

He believes Lionel Scaloni's team can grow into the tournament this time around.

"We are very excited. We have a very nice group that is very eager, but we think about going little by little," Messi said.

"We hope to start the World Cup in the best way to face everything that comes after. The more you play and the more time you spend on the pitch, the more you get to know each other."

Argentina begin their Group C campaign against Saudi Arabia next Tuesday before facing Poland and Mexico. 

Neymar is primed to lead Brazil to World Cup glory in Qatar, according to former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Mohamed Sissoko.

The 30-year-old Neymar has had a strong start to the campaign with PSG, recording 26 goal involvements (15 goals, 11 assists) in 20 games so far, and Sissoko believes he has shown the motivation to carry that form into the World Cup, which begins on Sunday.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Sissoko predicted the Selecao to win the tournament, citing Neymar as one of the chief reasons why.

"[I think] Brazil [will win], because they have a strong team and good spirit and I think they have a big chance of winning this World Cup," he said.

"I know [Neymar is] going to be on fire this year because when you're on holiday and you decide to come back one week before you start, it is because you have good motivation. It is because you have the World Cup, so he wants to show all the Brazilian people he's a big player and he wants to bring back the World Cup to Brazil."

Sissoko, who also played for Liverpool and Juventus among others before retiring in 2019, picked out three more players he thinks will thrive at the World Cup, including two more Brazilians.

"[Aurelien] Tchouameni [of France] is a very good player," Sissoko said. "Vinicius [Junior] is going to be on fire, also Raphinha from Barcelona. I think they have good motivation to do something very good at the World Cup."

 

Sissoko featured for Mali as an international player, and he pointed to Morocco as one of the African teams to look out for in Qatar.

Morocco will be in Group F with Belgium, Croatia and Canada, and they recently hired French-born Walid Regragui as head coach.

"They have a good team. Not one of the best," Sissoko said. "But I think this new manager, I know him very [well]. He knows French culture, and also Moroccan culture. So I think Morocco has a good team to go far."

Five African teams will take part in Qatar, with Morocco joined by Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana and Tunisia, and Sissoko hopes they can make an impression, even if lifting the trophy might be beyond them.

"I don't know [if an African team can win the World Cup] because of big talent and big teams like Brazil, Argentina, England, and France. It is not easy to compete with them at this moment, but I think they have the quality to go to the quarter-finals," he said.

"For me, Senegal is in progress... Senegal I think is the team with more progress because they bring a lot of foreign players. You know they have good players like [Kalidou] Koulibaly, like [Sadio] Mane, and now they're starting to bring in a young player like [Ismail] Jakobs from Monaco.

"This is very important to have a strong team, a strong group. So I think Senegal also have the power to go to the quarter-finals."

Brazil winger Raphinha says he does not see the favourites' tag as "pressure" ahead of the World Cup, as the Selecao look to end their two-decade wait for the title.

Tite's side head to Qatar 2022 in search of a first triumph in the competition since victory at Korea/Japan 2002, having gone closest with a third-place finish on home soil in 2014 since.

Despite defeat in the Copa America to Argentina last year, Brazil enter the tournament among the frontrunners, with hopes of bringing a close to their drought.

Barcelona man Raphinha is among the players hoping to make a difference for the nation, but he says being pegged as potential favourites does not faze him.

"I'm ready for the World Cup and I'm working hard to get there as good as I possibly can, both physically and mentally," he told the Blaugrana's website.

"The atmosphere is that of a winning national team, ambitious and wanting to win the title. There's a good vibe among the whole team.

"I don't see it as pressure, a team like Brazil is always a contender for the World Cup or any other title that they play for. The demand of the fans is normal because we are a high-quality team, with big names."

Raphinha has racked up 11 caps with Brazil since making his debut while at Leeds United last season, and made the switch to Barca ahead of this season.

It has not been an easy start however, with a Blaugrana team studded with major names slipping out of the Champions League for the second campaign running at the group stage.

The 25-year-old feels he is still bedding into his new surroundings, adding: "I still see myself in a period of adaptation to the club, I think I'm at a time where it has been quite complicated, especially because of my statistics and because of the way I play."

Brazil kick off their World Cup campaign against Serbia on November 24, before further encounters with Switzerland and Cameroon in Group G.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.