sport news Are Brazil on the path back to football greatness?

In the not too distant past only one team seemed to dominate on the international stage.

The one nation who knew football like no other, played in their own beautiful variety by an endless array of stars.

Brazil were the team to beat and, to many, Brazil still remain 'the' team to beat when it comes to big World Cup competition.

But what of the men in the famous yellow shirt, who have not won football's biggest prize of all for eighteen whole years, and counting.

Brazil are building for the future - the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is firmly in their sights

Brazil are building for the future - the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is firmly in their sights

We don't seem to hear - or speak - as much about the brilliant Brazilians as we once used to. Some of the biggest stars in the Premier League hail from the South American country, yet progress on the international stage has appeared minimum.

Has a new era been slowly building, or do we have a case of a disjointed team stuck in the awkward middle ground of aging stars and over-reliance on certain individuals? Sportsmail takes a deeper look...

Old reliable?

When it comes to iconic players Brazil basically wrote the script.

Some of the most storied names in world football history have worn the yellow shirt, with many giving service to the national team well into their twilight periods.

At present we see a similar kind of situation unfolding with Thiago Silva.

Thiago Silva (left) is idolised by team-mates and fans alike, though is now 36-years-old

Thiago Silva (left) is idolised by team-mates and fans alike, though is now 36-years-old

For many, the imperious central defender has been synonymous with Brazil for what feels like forever.

After breaking onto the world football scene as a precociously talented youngster, Silva has been a mainstay in the Brazil ranks and simply never left.

Now 36, it does potentially pose some concern that the Selecao remain so reliant upon their defensive general.

Featuring alongside his former PSG team-mate Marquinhos, Silva has continued to fend off rivals for his central defensive position, even with the likes of starlet Eder Militao banging down the door.

Sometimes, of course, the old guard cannot be beaten. But are Brazil setting themselves up for a fall?

Silva has earned many plaudits since his summer move to Chelsea, though moments of last ditch, heart-on-sleeve defending have also been paired with humiliating howlers and a blatant susceptibility to raw pace.

Brazil have some big decisions to make on their captain, who will be 38 at the next World Cup

Brazil have some big decisions to make on their captain, who will be 38 at the next World Cup

Silva will be 38 by the time the 2022 Qatar World Cup comes around. Brazil, perhaps more than most teams in the competition, will be craving their old trophy back.

The long-term plan with Silva therefore could bear much more impact than people think. Manager Tite has some big, big decisions to make. 

It's never easy when a player in question is your captain and a bonafide national legend and sweetheart, but if a transition is to happen, it really ought to start now. 

The Neymar conundrum

For the last decade, one could not speak of Brazil without also mentioning - or at least immediately thinking about - Neymar.

The mercurial forward is Brazil and Brazil is Neymar. The PSG star man adores his country and has several tattoos injected beneath his skin to prove it.

During the 2014 World Cup on home soil an extraordinary amount of pressure was placed on the shoulders of Neymar, bordering on the ridiculous.

For some time now Brazil have had an issue with their persistent over-reliance upon Neymar

For some time now Brazil have had an issue with their persistent over-reliance upon Neymar

And it's safe to say he, remarkably, took it in his stride. That is until an injury in the latter stages of the tournament saw both his and a nation's dreams shattered. Brazil in turn were obliterated by Germany and haven't really looked the same since.

What followed was several years of one of the world's most famous footballing nations clinging to their talisman like a lost sailor to a life jacket.

Everything revolved around Neymar, with the team built around him and players selected depending on how they would boost his game, rather than purely on their own merit.

Results picked up and this worked for a while... until it simply stopped.

The spanner thrown into the cogs arrived in the form of Neymar's injury record. Season

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