Robinho Lazaró had completed the domestic side of his Aventuras Américas challenge by winning every title available in North and South America then wrapping up the Copa Libertadores and Club World Cup with Flamengo. As a result, he stepped down from the Brazilian champions to concentrate on his duties with Brazil.
That gave him a six-month break to collect his thoughts and prepare himself for the task of taking on the world’s best at World Cup 2042 in France.
However, he did try out a few formations and new players in friendlies. That included goalkeeper Euller – who was number seven on the NxGn 2042 list – breaking Pelé’s record for the youngest-ever Brazil player aged 16 years 127 days in a 0-0 draw with Serbia.
World Cup Squad
After 18 months in charge of Brazil, Lazaró had a good feel for players he liked and, more importantly, those he didn’t trust. One of the latter was Atlético midfielder Thales Natanael, who was apparently “world-class” but massively underperformed and became the biggest name casualty of Lazaró’s squad for World Cup 2042.
The Brazilian FA expected nothing less than reaching the Semi-Final of the World Cup. And the squad Lazaró selected (with ages and clubs) to do that was:
Goalkeepers: Talles Antonio (36, Bayern), Euller (16, Ituano), Rikelmi (31, Pumas)
Right-backs: Gil (34, Arsenal), Célio Carlos (26, Flamengo)
Centre-backs: Giuliano Victor (31, Man City), Batata (33, Cuiabá), José Mario (24, Flamengo), Glaucinho (25, Santos)
Left-backs: Hélder (31, Man UFC), Beto (27, Man City)
Midfielders: Carlos Bruno (32, Man UFC), Antonio Sérgio (32, Barcelona), Waldemar Oldra (25, PSG), Joao Antonio (31, Barcelona), Johnny (29, Man City), Júlio David (23, Fiorentina), Ricardo (19, Cuiabá), José Luiz (23, Flamengo)
Strikers: Carlos Renato (31, Barcelona), Bruno Jacinto (31, Arsenal), Luis Felipe Borges (26, Man City), Gonzalo (26, Internacional, joining Benfica)
Brazil warmed up with a dominant 5-0 win against Japan, in which Gonzalo scored on his debut, before a fully rotated side beat Georgia 3-1. Those games saw Lazaró settle on a 4-3-1-2 formation that looked to maximise their midfield strength and get the wing-backs pushing on for width. However, he did have a couple of backup plans in his pocket just in case. But his preferred 11 looked like this:
World Cup 2042
World Cup group stage
Brazil were drawn in a group alongside Thailand and Austria, which they really ought to be winning. They began against Thailand, who’d already lost 3-0 to Austria, and came out flying with Oldra missing a sitter then making up for it with the opener after nine minutes. They went on to rack up 37 shots, 14 on target and 4.03 xG but somehow only scored twice in a relatively disappointing 2-0 success.
More disappointing was conceding to Austria’s first shot – because why wouldn’t they? Another dominant performance saw Brazil again struggle to put their chances away until a Carlos Bruno free-kick rebounded to Giuliano Victor to finally get the equaliser. But nothing else happened and Lazaró threw water bottles at the team in the dressing room, as they only finished second in the group.
The new, pretty bizarre World Cup format of three-team groups makes it very unlikely for an upset to occur in the group stage. But the biggest ripple effects were New Zealand qualifying ahead of the USA, Senegal knocking out Canada, and Syria qualifying ahead of Egypt.
World Cup second round
Despite finishing second in their group, Brazil arguably got a better draw as they faced Paraguay while Austria played Romania. Lazaró had been supremely unimpressed with his side’s first two games so he switched up the formation. He moved to a 4-3-3, yet Brazil again started strongly but missed chances. Renato finally tucked one home, only for Paragauy to immediately score from a ridiculous penalty decision. But Brazil didn’t let up, they continued to push and got their reward as Oldra raced through to score. Johnny got himself sent off for a second booking but Paraguay continued to offer nothing and Brazil eased to a 2-1 win.
This round did see some shocks as South Africa beat Belgium 2-1, Russia beat Spain 1-0, Japan beat Serbia 2-1, and Venezuela beat the Czech Republic 3-2 in extra-time.
World Cup third round
Now things got tough as Brazil drew Italy (managed by Brendan Rodgers) in the third round – although it could have been worse as Austria got England! Brazil got off to a flyer as Júlio David hit a superb cross-field ball for Renato to race through and coolly tuck home after three minutes. The same pairing combined again seven minutes later and Brazil were two-up from two shots after 10 minutes. “That’s more like it,” Lazaró thought. But Italy responded immediately as Marco Maiella, the best player in the world, teed up striker Teo Celano to potentially make things interesting.
After a wild 14 minutes, things cooled down a little and Brazil led 2-1 at the break. Not much else happened until Borges sent Renato through to bag his hat-trick through a third one-on-one. And the icing was put on the cake as Ricardo came off the bench to score his first goal for Brazil and make it a resounding 4-1 victory! But Italy will feel a little hard done by given they had three more shots and slightly more possession.
Austria beat England on penalties after a 0-0 draw, which made Lazaró feel a whole lot better about their group performance. Germany beat Argentina 1-0, Denmark thumped Croatia 4-0, and Venezuela kept their run going by beating Uruguay 2-0.
World Cup quarter-final
Another European side followed as Brazil faced off against Denmark, who they beat 3-2 in a friendly in March, in the quarter-finals. They again started superbly as Oldra teed up a simple tap-in for Renato tap-in, then Borges sent the striker through to double his tally inside seven minutes. Brazil didn’t relent as Borges put in a low cross for Renato to wrap up back-to-back World Cup hat-tricks after 20 minutes! Then another Borges cross found Oldra, who headed the ball on for Renato to make it four on 36 minutes. The game died after the break and Brazil eased to a 4-0 win led by a sensational Renato performance.
Elsewhere, Russia caused another upset as they defeated reigning champions Germany 1-0 with a late winner. France beat Portugal on penalties after a 0-0 draw and Venezuela beat Austria 1-0!
World Cup semi-final
A very unusual-looking semi-final lineup saw Brazil face Russia while Venezuela took on France. The other game took place first and France, unsurprisingly, beat Venezuela 4-2, although the underdogs had led 2-1 after 57 minutes but were well and truly dominated.
Lazaró had no fresh injury concerns but did bring Batata back into the defence for the big game at Stade de France. Another good start saw Borges head home an excellent Hélder cross at the back post. But a defensive aberration by Victor, who collected the ball from a corner then tried to pass the ball backwards three yards away from his own goal, gifted Russia an equaliser with their only shot of the first half. Brazil pushed, went attacking but couldn’t finish any of the chaces against a very defensive Russian outfit.
And that stubborn Russian approach saw the game, completely undeservedly, go all the way to penalties. Lazaró was nervous, but his players didn’t seem to be as they coolly converted their first four penalties before midfielder Smirnov chipped the ball into Talles’ arms. That man Renato was exactly who you wanted taking the decisive penalty, and he duly tucked it home to send Brazil to the World Cup Final. But how it even went to penalties Lazaró would never know.
World Cup Final
A cauldron of noise greeted two footballing giants as they emerged from the tunnel at Stade de France on Sunday, 13 July 2041. Memories of that Ronaldo Final in 1998 were well and truly ignored as Robinho Lazaró’s 2026 champions Brazil took on Thomas Tuchel’s 2030 champions and tournament hosts France. The day before, Venezuela finished third in the World Cup as they beat boring Russia on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
Unsurprisingly, there was plenty of Samba support as the Brazil fans did their best to get tickets and make themselves heard. But they were heavily outgunned by French fanatics.
Lazaró had no fresh injury or suspension concerns so stuck with the lineup of:
Starting XI: T Antonio; Gil, G Victor, Batata, Hélder; C Bruno, Johnny, W Oldra; LF Borges, J David; C Renato
Subs: B Jacinto, Euller, J Mario, J Luiz, A Sérgio, Ricardo, Beto, Gonzalo, C Carlos, J António, Glaucinho, Rikelmi
The game started pretty slowly, with Brazil missing a decent chance early on and France doing absolutely nothing, with just one shot in the first half. The second half saw a similar theme, so Lazaró seized the initiative and switched things up, throwing on Jacinto as a false nine and moving Hélder to an attacking wing-back.
That switch worked wonders as, on 82 minutes, the left-back flew down the wing and sent a lovely ball through for Jacinto, who cheekily dinked the keeper with a delicious little chip. Renato then missed a sitter but Lazaró dropped his players back, went more defensive and Brazil eased to a 1-0 win in a very poor game in which France were shocking.
Brazil were World Champions for the 7th time!! And the Brazil fans were on cloud nine, Samba-ing away to their hearts’ content inside a very quickly emptying Stade de France arena.
Renato won the World Cup Golden Boot and Best Player after a brilliant nine goals, two assists, four player of the match awards and an 8.23 average rating from seven games. Hélder, who was absolutely brilliant in the Final, was third in the Best Player award. But Renato really is the star of this side, and he now has 52 goals in 81 caps for Brazil.
Lazaró was blown away by this latest success. He knew his Brazil team was good but wasn’t quite convinced they’d reach the final, let alone win it. They got a little lucky with the draw and big teams suffering surprise defeats, but when the time came they well and truly dominated France in the biggest game in world football.
The most pleasing factor for the manager was the fact that he got to celebrate the success with seven players he’d also worked with at domestic level in Batata, Júlio David, José Mario, José Luiz, Ricardo, Beto and Célio Carlos. With his best mate Batata, of course, being the pick of those players he celebrated with.
The heart rules for Robinho Lazaró
As delighted as he was to win the World Cup with his second nation Brazil, as he took some downtime at home to celebrate with his family Lazaró didn’t know what to do next. However, one week on from the big success, he received a surprising phone call that made his mind up for him.
The call came from the Colombian Football Association, who invited him to replace Juan Esteban Restrepo as the new national team manager. And, as a proud Colombian, this was a no-brainer decision for Lazaró to lead Colombia.
Join us next time to discover the challenge awaiting Lazaró as manager of Colombia!