RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Gremio centre half Pedro Geromel and Corinthians pair Cassio and Fagner were the surprise inclusions in Brazil’s 23-man World Cup squad on Monday.
The three were the only home-based players in a squad that will go to Russia as joint favorites having lost just one game in 19 since Tite took over in 2016.
The only country to win the World Cup five times, Brazil kick off their World Cup campaign against Switzerland on June 17 before playing Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E.
Gremio defender Geromel has just two caps but was outstanding in leading the Porto Alegre side to the Copa Libertadores last season.
“Gremio have played at a high level for the last two years,” Tite told a packed room of reporters at the Brazilian Football Confederation. “Geromel has been great during that whole period.”
The former Gremio and Corinthians coach, who was tasked with revamping the country’s reputation after their 7-1 mauling by Germany in the 2014 World Cup semi-final, said he had not decided who will fill the void left by Dani Alves. The defender was ruled out last week with a knee injury.
He selected Fagner of Corinthians and Danilo of Manchester City to replace the Paris St Germain right back and said both were up to the task.
“Of course we are going to miss him but other paths and opportunities arise,” Tite said. “I have the same confidence in them as I had in Dani.”
Left back Filipe Luis, who recently returned to the Atletico Madrid side after fracturing his tibia, was selected as back up to Marcelo.
PSG striker Neymar, who was been out with an injured foot since Feb. 25, was also named in the squad as he is expected to be fit by early June.
Cassio, who has just one cap, was selected as the third goalkeeper behind regulars Alisson (Roma) and Ederson (Manchester City).
Brazil’s players are to meet in Rio de Janeiro on May 21 for a week of training before heading to London, where they will be based at Spurs’ training ground.
The Brazilians will play friendlies against Croatia in Liverpool on June 3 and Austria in Vienna on June 10.
Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier, writing by Andrew Downie, editing by Pritha Sarkar