Brazil just ended one streak -- never having won the gold medal in Olympic men's soccer -- but must get back to work keeping another streak alive -- having advanced to the finals of every World Cup.
The bad news: If World Cup 2018 qualifying ended today, Brazil wouldn't qualify. It is currently tied for sixth place with Paraguay in what is shaping up to be a seven-team battle for
Only the top four teams in South America's 10-team competition are assured of going to Russia. The fifth-place team will face the Oceania winner in a playoff.
closest Brazil came to not qualifying was in 1990 when a Chile win or tie in the final game of qualifying would have sent La Roja, not Brazil, to the finals in Italy.
With Brazil leading,
1-0, Chilean goalkeeper Roberto Rojas faked being injured by a flare thrown from the stands of Maracana Stadium. The flare landed near him, but he used a razor blade hidden in his gloves to cut
himself while laying on the ground. With blood flowing from Rojas' head, Chile players left the field, hoping to advance by forfeit.
It all looked good for Rojas until a Brazilian
photographer printed a photo, capturing the moment the keeper cut himself. Brazil went to Italia '90. Chile not only failed to qualify but it was also banned from the 1994 World Cup while Rojas was
banned for life from playing soccer.
To qualify for the 1990 World
Cup, South American teams needed to play four games -- six in the case of Colombia, which advanced to the finals after a playoff with Israel.
South American teams have already played six
games in the 18-game qualifying competition, and Brazil faces key tests when it hosts Ecuador, tied for first place with Uruguay, and travels to Colombia in back-to-back games in September.
The games will be the first under new coach Tite, who was hired to replace after Dunga was fired following the Copa Centenario. The former Corinthians coach has called in seven
players from Brazil's Olympic team, including star Neymar and uncapped keeper Weverton, the two shootout heroes in the gold-medal game against Germany.
Three players not
from the Olympic team are uncapped: Shakhtar Donetsk striker Taison, Atletico Mineiro midfielder Rafael Carioca and Corinthians defender Fagner.
"It isn't about
renewal," said Tite of the changes. "It's about form."
DEFENDERS: Daniel Alves (Juventus/ITA) Fagner (Corinthians) Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid) Marcelo (Real
Madrid/ESP) Gil (Shandong Luneng/CHN) Marquinhos (Paris SG/FRA) Miranda (Inter Milan/ITA) Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo) MIDFIELDERS: Casemiro (Real
Madrid/ESP) Giuliano (Zenit St. Petersburg/RUS) Rafael Carioca (Atletico Mineiro) Paulinho (Guangzhou Evergrande/CHN) Lucas Lima (Santos) Renato Augusto (Beijing
Guoan/CHN) Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool/ENG) Willian (Chelsea/ENG)
FORWARDS: Neymar (Barcelona/ESP) Gabriel (Santos) Gabriel Jesus (Palmeiras)
Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk/UKR)