RIO DE JANEIRO (AP)Brazil’s wealth of attacking options was highlighted when nine forwards were picked in the World Cup squad on Monday.

Neymar spearheaded the group of forwards including relative youngsters Vinicius Jr., Gabriel Martinelli and Rodrygo. Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, capped since 2014, missed out.

Dani Alves, the 39-year-old former Barcelona right back, was also on the 26-man list named by coach Tite.

Alves, who played his last club match in September for Mexico’s Pumas, said he understood why some fans were not happy about his selection.

”I am not here to please everyone. We are here not to fail those who trust us,” Alves said in a video his staffers shared with reporters. ”The effort, the dedication and the sacrifice have paid off.”

There were also eight defenders and six midfielders, not including Philippe Coutinho, who suffered a quadricep injury in training with Aston Villa at the weekend.

Tite narrowed down the list from 55 players he and his staff had been monitoring since 2018 to try and win a record-extending sixth World Cup crown.

”We prioritized important players from the midfield to the attack, but keeping our balance is the team’s main idea,” Tite said. ”To win at the highest level, we need to create and score. But that doesn’t mean our defensive strength is not key to win.”

In Qatar, Brazil will face Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in Group G. Serbia and Switzerland were also in Brazil’s group four years ago in Russia, when the Brazilians lost to Belgium in the quarterfinals.

The 61-year-old Tite has already announced he will step down after the tournament after six years in charge.

Brazil:

Goalkeepers: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras)

Defenders: Dani Alves (no club), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Danilo (Juventus), Alex Sandro (Juventus), Alex Telles (Sevilla), Bremer (Juventus).

Midfielders: Casemiro (Manchester United), Fred (Manchester United), Fabinho (Liverpool), Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle), Lucas Paqueta (West Ham), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo).

Forwards: Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Vinicius Jr. (Real Madrid), Richarlison (Tottenham), Raphinha (Barcelona), Antony (Manchester United), Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal), Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal), Pedro (Flamengo), Rodrygo (Real Madrid).

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