Brazil tests Willian up front with Neymar and Jesus
TERESOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) — Brazil’s second pre-World Cup training featured Willian in the attack with Neymar and Gabriel Jesus on Thursday, a hint that coach Tite might change his starting lineup.
Willian played with the two star strikers for about one hour in the first training with footballs at the Granja Comary ground in Teresopolis, outside Rio de Janeiro.
Tite did not use his starting midfield to play with the trio. He also used defenders Marquinhos and Miranda during the entire hour, suggesting former captain Thiago Silva will be on the bench for the moment.
If Willian is brought on to the team, Tite could remove midfielder Renato Augusto from the starting lineup, put Philippe Coutinho in his place, and open a gap for Willian.
Since last year, Tite has said he needs a “pacemaker,” and considers Coutinho one of his main options for the role.
Beijing Guoan’s Augusto is under pressure after unconvincing performances in Brazil’s midfield.
Augusto’s spot is also eyed by Fred, one of the surprises of Tite’s squad.
The midfielder said he admired Brazil players who began a World Cup on the bench and later became starters, such as Mazinho (1994) and Kleberson (2002).
“We can get inspiration from them, these players worked very hard to get their spot,” Fred said. “But if I have to be out I will keep working hard.”
Fred also said he was torn between a transfer to Manchester United or Manchester City.
Fred said he had an offer from City in January, and both were now talking to his Shakhtar Donetsk club about a transfer.
“Maybe after the World Cup I will make the choice,” the midfielder said. “Now I am only thinking about the World Cup.”
Fred said he believes his future is outside Ukraine, and doing well in the English Premier League like other Brazilians such as Chelsea’s Willian.
Tite is counting on only 18 of the 23 players in his squad at training in Teresopolis.
Winger Douglas Costa and Fagner are still recovering from injury.
Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino and Real Madrid’s Casemiro and Marcelo will only join on Monday after the Champions League final.
Training on Thursday was attended by four-time World Cup winner Mario Zagallo.