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Could Brazil really miss out on the 2026 World Cup?! Where it’s all gone wrong for the Selecao as Neymar and Vinicius Jr injuries pile on the pressure ahead of huge clash with old foes Argentina | Goal.com US


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The five-time champions have won just two of their opening five qualifiers ahead of Tuesday’s clash with the defending champions at the Maracana

Outside of tournaments, Brazil don’t play many big games. This is not a team that is familiar with the concept of desperation or having their fixture branded as ‘must-win’. Things aren’t supposed to get this intense, or this nervous, until the knockout stages of a World Cup or Copa America. But here we are, in mid-November, in a qualifying campaign for a World Cup that is just under three years away, and the Selecao are sweating.

CONMEBOL qualifying is widely regarded as the most competitive, even if the world rankings don’t always bear that out. A three-year gauntlet with each team playing 18 matches, and at the end of it just four automatic spaces at the tournament. Things have changed ahead of 2026, though, with the expanded 48-team tournament now allowing for six South American sides to qualify, with a seventh heading to an intercontinental play-off.

Despite that, Brazil find themselves in a precarious position as the opening third of the campaign heads towards its close. Having won just two of their opening five games, they currently sit fifth in the standings ahead of Tuesday’s crunch clash with old rivals Argentina. Defeat and results going a certain way elsewhere could see them end the international break out of the automatic qualification slots.

That would not be becoming of a Brazil squad that is full of stars from the European games, as well as a number of youngsters who will join that cohort in the not-too-distant future. And unlike recent Selecao sides, there are very few obvious holes in the starting XI.

It’s hard to highlight where, exactly, things have gone so wrong for a team who are expected to win every single World Cup by their own fans, regardless of their own strengths or those of their opponents. Qualification isn’t a prerequisite as much of an assumption. These games should effectively be a handful of friendlies to gear up for the real thing. So how have they got to this stage?

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