Willian may not be first-choice at Stamford Bridge these days — though he did lead Chelsea in number of appearances this season — but he’s very much part of Brazil’s strongest XI for head coach Tite. In fact, the preferred lineup is so set in stone these days, that Tite named most of his team way back in February already. After the humiliation of the 7-1 four years ago, he will be hoping that the team’s familiarity with each other will be the key difference against all the other favorites in Russia. Well that, and Neymar’s brilliance.
Those two aspects combined most notably for Brazil’s second goal against Austria on Sunday night in Vienna, as Willian’s lofted ball found Neymar at the top of the box, and from there, the world’s most expensive player took care of the rest.
GOLAÇO DE NEYMAR, ASSIST WILLIAN!— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 10, 2018
He toys defenders and gets rid of them like he was playing in slow motion. World class. pic.twitter.com/vuRyoUNDg6
Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring in the first half and Philippe Coutinho added a third late on as Brazil finished their preparations with a solid 3-0 win. Now it’s off to Russia for them, where they will open against Switzerland next Sunday before taking on Costa Rica and Serbia.
Willian will undoubtedly be key to those efforts just as he’s been key to Brazil’s games since the last World Cup. What the future holds for him beyond that is unclear, though it seems increasingly likely that he will follow Mata, Matić, and Mourinho and end up at Manchester United. In that regard, an excellent World Cup for the 29-year-old may be beneficial both in terms of us being happy for him and Chelsea collecting a solid transfer fee.