SAO PAULO • Three years ago, Brazil were hammered 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals of their home World Cup. But after their latest win, coach Tite said they were back to playing like Brazil again and almost ready for a crack at claiming a record sixth World Cup.
"Brazil are a favourite at the World Cup," he said after his side, who easily topped the South American qualifying group, beat Chile 3-0 on Tuesday.
The former Corinthians coach has transformed the team since taking over from Dunga in June last year when Brazil were still suffering from a World Cup hangover, had just been knocked out of the Copa America and were sixth in the 10-team South American qualifiers.
Under his guidance, they have won 10 and drawn two of their qualifiers since then and finished the campaign a remarkable 10 points clear of second-placed Uruguay.
Brazil are producing great football again, with a solid back four, some steel in midfield and a deadly front line.
"By the football presented, the campaign completed, by level, performance plus results… Brazil are one of the teams, yes," Tite added when asked why his side are in contention for the title in Russia.
"The football this team are playing has made me happy. (They have) won back what I believe football is, linking effectiveness with beauty and winning games, and showing that these things aren't conflictive."
REDISCOVERING VINTAGE FORM
The football this team are playing has made me happy. (They have) won back what I believe football is, linking effectiveness with beauty and winning games.
TITE, Brazil coach, explaining the unique winning touch that his players have shown in the World Cup qualifiers.
Brazil have a settled first XI but there is competition for places in the 23-man squad for next year's World Cup in Russia.
Tite said that Marcelo, Filipe Luis and Alex Sandro are all in the frame for the two left-back spots.
Gil, Jemerson and Rodrigo Caio are vying to back up regular defensive picks Marquinhos, Miranda and Thiago Silva.
There is also debate over who will be third-choice goalkeeper behind Alisson and Ederson.
Douglas Costa, Diego Tardelli and Taison are all hoping to win a place in attack, while in midfield Tite must decide whether to take Gremio's young midfielders Luan and Artur or opt for the experience of Giuliano, Lucas Lima or Diego.
There is talent aplenty but Tite is also wary of other teams who could potentially win the World Cup.
"I have said that France are at a very strong level too. Rising players like (Kylian) Mbappe, (Alexandre) Lacazette, (Antoine) Griezmann. Look at the offensive trio.
"And there is also world champions Germany."
As part of their World Cup build-up, Brazil face England at Wembley on Nov 10 and Japan in Lille four days later. They will also take on Germany in Berlin on March 27 next year.