Brazil Squad Revealed for 2018 World Cup Qualifying Matches in March

Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2016

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho (R) stretches with Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino during a team training session in Liverpool, northwest England, on October 21, 2015, on the eve of their UEFA Europa League group B football match against Rubin Kazan. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS        (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho and national legend Kaka have been called up to the Brazil squad for the Selecao's FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification matches against Uruguay and Paraguay.

FourFourTwo confirmed the attackers are joined by Chelsea players Oscar and Willian, while Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves will also make the trip. Juventus' Alex Sandro has also been called up in the 23-man squad by coach Dunga and could make his first international appearance since August 2012. Roberto Firmino is a noticeable absentee, despite his recent upturn in form for Liverpool.

The Brazilian Football Confederation (h/t AS) shared a list of the full squad:

Coutinho has been rewarded for his form, performing well in the attack for manager Jurgen Klopp's Reds. However, he didn't make the pitch as the Anfield giants dismantled Manchester City 3-0 on Wednesday night at home.

Firmino scored his seventh goal in 24 Premier League appearances in that fixture, according to WhoScored.com, with Coutinho watching from the bench as Klopp's side derailed the Sky Blues' title challenge. However, Firmino's improvement hasn't been enough for Dunga to recall him. 

John Raoux/Associated Press

Now playing his football in the MLS for Orlando City, Kaka has only been involved in 15 minutes of football during the qualification campaign for Brazil, per FourFourTwo, but his experience will be vital as Luis Suarez and his Uruguay team-mates hope to shock their opponents.

Former AC Milan and Real Madrid superstar Kaka had recently admitted he wanted to be considered for the national squad, as quoted by Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel.

“I hope so. I will do what I can,” said Kaka. “I was with the team in two games recently. I want to begin this season at a high level, physically healthy, so that Dunga will call me to be in the two upcoming games.”

Here is Kaka at his best for Brazil:

Brazil have just seven points from their opening four games, placing them third in the qualification standings. They host Uruguay in Recife, Brazil, on March 26, before visiting Paraguay four days later. 

The Brazilians are sandwiched between second-placed Uruguay and fourth-placed Paraguay, who sit behind the Selecao only on goal difference, per FIFA.com.

Suarez will be the threat for Uruguay as his form continues to soar for Barcelona, but the trip to Paraguay could be a tougher test as Brazil look for maximum points.

Neymar will once again have the weight of expectation on his shoulders as his country looks to reach the biggest tournament in world football.