Gilberto: Brazil look more like a team now
At the last World Cup in 2014, hosts Brazil suffered a humiliation that they've never tasted before - a 7-1 thumping by Germany in the semi-finals.
But, when the Selecao descend on Russia for next year's tournament, former Brazil midfielder Gilberto Silva expects to see a very different side.
While he wouldn't go as far as pick Tite's men as favourites, he expects the team to shine.
Gilberto, 41, was speaking at yesterday's Score for Charity with Liverpool and Arsenal Legends event at the Great Eastern Centre.
He said: "I see that things are much better with the team. They look more solid and compact, and they definitely look more like a team now.
"Hopefully, with more experience in the team, they'll be looking very sharp in Russia next year.
"There's still a long way to go before the kick-off in Russia, so the players have to keep doing well for their clubs."
Many blamed the heavy defeat by Germany three years ago on Neymar's absence, after he was ruled out of the game through injury. Come next summer, the 25-year-old forward will once again carry the hopes of an entire nation.
The scrutiny will be more intense, following his record-breaking 222-million-euro (S$350m) move to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona.
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Gilberto, who was part of Brazil's 2002 World Cup-winning side, said: "I'm sure that there's more pressure on him especially since after the move but, of course, a player like Neymar can handle it. I hope that on the pitch, he'll be able to help the team get results."
Gilberto, who also played for Arsenal from 2002-2008, was a member of the Invincibles side that went through a whole season unbeaten on the way to the 2004 English Premier League title.
On the current Gunners, he said: "There are quite a few similar players in midfield.
"I'd love to see different types of players who can add structure to the midfield and make a difference."
One of eight former EPL players at the fund-raiser yesterday, he took turns with others such as former Arsenal goalkeeper Rami Shaaban and ex-Liverpool custodian David James to save spot-kicks by donors.
A total of $18,000 was raised for the The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, which supports underprivileged children.
Gilberto will play in tomorrow's Battle of the Masters event which features the Arsenal, Liverpool and Singapore Masters.