After four games and two stumbles in a row, the Brazilian team begins to have the “face” of Fernando Diniz on this FIFA Date, one of the toughest of these South American Qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup. Against Colombia, at 9pm this Thursday On Friday, fans should find a rejuvenated team with the new coach’s tactical style already incorporated, with more ball touch and offense.
In third place in the table, the team has seven points and comes from a defeat to Uruguay and a draw with Venezuela, at home. It is behind leader Argentina, with 12, and Uruguay, with seven. And, after visiting in the heat of Barranquilla, it will receive the current world champion at Maracanã, in Rio de Janeiro, on Tuesday, the 21st.
Faced with these challenges, Diniz must make a definitive break with Tite’s selection with the help of a series of factors. The first, of course, is the sequence of games. The match in Barranquilla will be the coach’s fifth in charge of the team. The consecutive preparation training sessions before each of the four games already played provided the basis for the adaptations that each player needs to make to understand the coach’s ideas.
In his third call-up, Diniz was also able to filter out those who have enough resources to adapt to his style, now established by Fluminense winning the Copa Libertadores title at the beginning of the month.
The coach also had some significant absences, which required a quick change in relation to the formation still under the strong influence of Tite. This is the case of Neymar, Casemiro and Ederson, all starters at the beginning of Diniz’s career in the national team. With these losses, the coach was able to speed up the process, creating the conditions to finally give his “face” to the team.
The entry of André, from Fluminense, in Casemiro’s place is just the most visible face of this change. Diniz changed the tactical scheme that had been the standard since Tite. The 4-3-3 is out and the 4-2-4 is in. In practice, Rodrygo, with a more offensive style, replaces Neymar, accustomed to playing as an attacking midfielder in recent years.
The Real Madrid striker will be joined by Vinicius Júnior, Raphinha and Gabriel Martinelli. Diniz did not hide the idea of extending the success that Rodrygo and Vini Jr. have been having at Real Madrid to the national team. “It’s a way to take advantage of their moment at Real. They have already played in a more centralized way. Rodrygo has the characteristic of a perfect fit with what I think about football”, explained Diniz.
With the option for Martinelli as a reference up front, Diniz should leave young Endrick, the target of most attention in this call-up, as an alternative for the second half. “I see huge potential. He could become one of those legendary players in Brazilian football in the future. But time will confirm this,” he declared.
In total, the team will have six changes to the starting lineup compared to the 2-0 defeat to Uruguay in the last round of the Qualifiers. Diniz guarantees that some of these changes were already planned, regardless of the group’s recent injuries. “Alternatives were already being created. It’s always good to be able to count on everyone. It’s sad not to be able to have Neymar. He was missed in any scenario, as was Casemiro. It’s an opportunity for others. Let’s make the most of this team that will play.”
The coach chose the youth path to renew the selection. For comparison purposes, the squad called up by Tite for the World Cup in Qatar, at the end of last year, had an average age of 28.4 years. The group called by Diniz for this FIFA Data has an average age of 24.7 years. The youngest is Endrick, 17. Alisson, back in the starting position after Ederson was cut, is the most experienced, at 31.
“Everyone is understanding everything we want. It’s the third call-up. They accumulate tactical knowledge of what we intend to pass on to them. And the human connections are getting deeper. In these next two games, we want to raise the level of our game”, said Diniz.
Brazil has never lost to its South American opponent in a qualifying match: there are seven wins and seven draws. At the same time, the Colombians have not lost to the Brazilians at home in the competition since September 2003. Since then, there have been three draws.
But it’s not the history that worries Diniz and his coaching staff. The Colombian team is going through a good moment, despite coming from three consecutive draws in these Qualifiers. In total, there are 15 unbeaten games, including friendlies – they have defeated rivals such as Germany and Japan in recent months. Colombia hasn’t lost since February last year. At the moment, they are in fifth place in the Qualifiers, with six points, just one behind Brazil.
For this Thursday’s game, coach Néstor Lorenzo will be backed by Luis Díaz, who has become news off the field in recent weeks due to the kidnapping of his father. He was released last week by the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group after 12 days in captivity. The player is Alisson’s partner at Liverpool.
If Díaz is confirmed among the starters, James Rodríguez is in doubt. Still recovering from injury, the São Paulo player could start on the bench. If he enters the field, he could equal Radamel Falcao in the Colombian team’s top scorer in the Qualifiers. At the moment, James has 12 goals, one less than his compatriot.
The biggest absence for the home team will be midfielder Jhon Arias, from Fluminense. He will be suspended this Thursday. In compensation, the coach will have the return of goalkeeper Camilo Vargas, suspended in the draw with Ecuador, in the last round.