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Brazil named their squad for the World Cup 2022 on Monday, with one of the most intriguing inclusions being that of veteran full-back Dani Alves.
Now aged 39, Alves is playing in Mexico for UNAM but has not featured for a month due to a knee issue.
However, he’s in the 26-man Selecao group as one of four full-backs, where he’ll likely go up against Juventus’ versatile performer Danilo for a starting spot on the right side of defence.
Head coach Tite has detailed exactly why Alves, the oldest and most-capped player in the squad, has been retained as Brazil look to end a wait of 20 years to win the World Cup again.
“He adds technical and tactical aspects that are impressive, to be an organiser, an articulator. Sure he is not a 60 to 70 metres player anymore, but he has other virtues,” he said. “The criteria awards his technical quality, but mental and physical aspects too.”
On Alves’ injury, team doctor Fabio Mahseredjian told a news conference that they expect a full return to fitness in time for action in Qatar.
“We have been following his recovery from up close and all the data that we have from Barcelona doctors show that he is fit to play,” he explained.
Alves has 124 caps at senior level, while he also played every minute of last summer’s Tokyo Olympics as he led Brazil’s U23s to the gold medal.
One more appearance will take him level with fellow iconic full-back Roberto Carlos as the second-most capped player in men’s national team history, with yet another member of that group, Cafu, the current record-holder out on his own with 142 caps.
He was part of the Brazil squad at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, but missed 2018 due to injury.
World Cup teammates Neymar (121) and Thiago Silva (109) are also in Brazil’s five most-capped players ever, with Neymar now only two goals behind Pele’s record of 77 as the nation’s highest-ever scorer.
Tite’s squad are in Group G and will face Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in their opening fixtures.