On Friday night, Brazil will begin the next round of their quest for a sixth World Cup title when they play Bolivia at home in the first round of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying matches. The match will take place in Belem.
The Selecao are rebuilding with an interim coach, their best player is not located in Europe, and promising young players are either fighting for form or injured, so the atmosphere is significantly different from how it was at the beginning of its previous five South American World Cup qualification campaigns.
Richarlison, who doesn’t score often, Brazil’s new head coach Fernando Diniz, and striker Neymar, who plays for Al-Hilal all reflect different aspects of Brazil’s unpredictability at the beginning of the road leading up to the 2026 World Cup. And this time, the Selecao will be under much more pressure because their bitter rivals, Argentina, are the current holders of the World Cup trophy.
Away from the higher altitude of La Paz, the Selecao are still massive favorites to win their matchup against a Bolivian team that has one of the poorest records in international football for teams playing away from their home stadium.
Diniz, who will be in command of Brazil until Carlo Ancelotti takes over the team the following summer, will want to get Carlo Ancelotti off to a strong start in the qualification process for the finals in 2026. This Friday will mark the beginning of his interim tenure.
On Friday, Diniz, a coach who does not have a lot of hardware to his name but has a lot of offensive style, will begin his job in an interim capacity.
The striker Rodrygo told the press that Diniz has a unique perspective on football shortly after their arrival in Belem in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. “Everyone in this place is very pumped up, and there is a great deal of anticipation surrounding this new cycle.”
In addition to Vinicius Jr., Brazil will be without two additional players who participated in the most recent World Cup because of injuries. A Premier League inquiry has purportedly linked Lucas Paquetá to illicit betting, which led to his removal from the squad as a result of the investigation. After details of a domestic abuse charge against Antony emerged this week, the decision was made on Monday to terminate his employment.
The only country to have ever qualified for every World Cup to date is Brazil, and they will maintain that record if they can maintain the home form they showed in reaching Qatar, which was to win all eight matches on home soil, ignoring the ridiculous tie against Argentina that was abandoned at 0-0 and never replayed.
Since 2009, Brazil has only dropped two points at home in World Cup qualification, and they still hold the remarkable record of having never lost a home qualifying match in the history of the competition.
On the other hand, Brazil’s opponent is a nation that has lost its ability to remember what it’s like to win an away qualification match.