By Daniel J.McLaughlin
It is no wonder that Brazil are the favourites for the World Cup. The five-time world champions have not lost since June last year, on a run of 10 games.
They have the attacking prowess of the world's most expensive player Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, and they have been solid at the back. Since Tite took the reigns in June 2017, they have kept 16 clean sheets in 21 games.
They enter the World Cup in Russia with a 21 per cent chance of winning football's biggest competition, ahead of Spain, Germany and Argentina (England only have a four per cent chance, behind Peru).
The Seleção finished their World Cup warm-up in style, pushing aside Austria in Vienna. The Austrians will not be competing in Russia this month, and they have not competed in the World Cup since 1998. The difference in class was on show on Saturday afternoon with an excellent 3-0 win for the Brazilians.
Heinz Lindner was kept busy in the Austria goal, as Tite's side looked threatening up front. Gabriel Jesus was first on the scoresheet in the 36th minute. A long range effort from Marcelo cannoned off a defender and fell into the path of the Manchester City forward. Jesus took one touch, before curling it past the goalkeeper into the far corner.
Neymar impressed on his return to the Brazil squad, when he scored after coming off the bench against Croatia. The PSG forward, making his first start since February, found the back of the net once again. It looked like child's play when he picked up the ball in the box, and jinxed past one defender before slotting it under the legs of Lindner just after the hour mark.
Coutinho finished off the scoring six minutes later. He played an excellent one-two with former Liverpool teammate Firmino, and he was sent through on goal down the left. The Barcelona attacking midfielder was clear to slide the ball home in the 69th minute.
It could have been worse for the hosts, after Coutinho's effort rattled off the crossbar. He struck the ball from distance after cutting inside, and then bending the ball towards the far post. Lindner would have been beaten, but it collided with the crossbar and out to safety.
Firmino was also denied late on by Lindner. The Liverpool star latched on to an audacious flick from Neymar, but somehow the Austrian goalkeeper was able to produce a fine save.
Brazil start their World Cup campaign against Switzerland on Sunday, June 17 (K.O. 7pm). They also face Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E.