PORTO ALEGRE – Brazil have already qualified for the 2018 World Cup, but all eyes will be on superstar Neymar playing Ecuador on Thursday in his first international since a record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.
The Selecao are on the fast track to Russia, with a good chance of ending the qualifiers as South America’s top team. Ecuador are only sixth and in danger of missing out on the finals in Russia.
For Brazil coach Tite, who has overseen eight out of eight victories in competitive matches since taking over, the priority for the clash in Porto Alegre is to maintain the high standards.
“The World Cup is now properly under way,” he told journalists at the training facility.
Tite has available his full stable of stars, led by Neymar who became the world’s most expensive player with a €222 million transfer to PSG from Barcelona.
With 52 goals in 77 international games, he is currently Brazil’s fourth most prolific scorer in history, with the legend Pele at the top with 77 goals.
With Neymar will be three PSG teammates – Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Daniel Alves.
Also playing is 20-year-old Gabriel Jesus, of Manchester City, who said on Tuesday that he was “very happy to look back over the last year, because I have achieved my childhood dream of wearing the national shirt and helping my companions”.