Willian pinpoints Premier League as key to Brazil’s World Cup bid

Chelsea star Willian believes that if Brazil are to go on and win their sixth World Cup in Russia this summer then they will have the Premier League to thank.

Tite’s side are one of the favourites to triumph in Moscow in July and the number of players who ply their trade in the Premier League will help them.

The 29-year-old has won two Premier League titles and the League Cup during his five years at Stamford Bridge and says the strength of the league has seen him step up his level of performance.

Manchester City’s title winning trio Ederson, Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus look set to be in the squad alongside Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino providing a strong Premier League spine to the squad.

And Willian is excited at the prospect of trying to win Brazil’s first World Cup since 2002.

The Chelsea star said: “I’ve learned a lot in my time England. I have been here for five years, so I’ve learned many things.

“English football is not simple and it is very different to others. I think it’s one of the strongest leagues in the world.

“There’s no doubt that to play there you can’t just arrive and play with ease. You must also understand how English football works, understand the Premier League.

“I already liked the Premier League before playing for Chelsea, and there’s no doubt that it has been a huge learning curve to me over these five years.”

It is 16 years since Brazil last won the World Cup with the likes of Ronaldo and Rivaldo in the squad – and Willian is keen for the class of 2018 to emulate their achievement.

The appointment of Tite in 2016 has seen Brazil lose just once during his time in charge and Willian has praised the manager for the new ideas he has brought to the team.

He added: “I followed the 2002 World Cup and watched every game.

“They were players of great quality, players that had already been the best in the world back then. Players like Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Ronaldo as well the likes of Kaka, Gilberto Silva, Roberto Carlos, and Cafu. All players who were successful with the Brazilian national shirt, so we also try to mirror ourselves in them so we can find success and we hope to do the same thing they did, which is to win the World Cup.

“Tite’s arrival was definitely important. He’s a very intelligent manager who brought us many ideas; someone of great ability.

“I think to me he’s one of the best coaches in today’s football, both for what he has done and for what he’s doing right now with Brazil.

“He’s definitely a coach that has changed our game style, our game patterns, both with and without the ball. So, this is all helping us a lot on the pitch.”

Before they head off to Russia where they play Serbia, Switzerland and Costa Rica in Group E, Brazil take on Croatia at the start of June at Anfield in a pre-tournament warm-up.

Willian knows the stadium very well having scored a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw against Liverpool back in November – and is excited at the prospect of playing there with the national team.

Willian – who has won 54 caps for his country – added: “It’ll be very interesting to play at Anfield, a stadium that is very beautiful after being refurbished, and with the atmosphere of playing in England, which is also very different

“It’ll be different with the Seleção, so there’s no doubt that it’ll be an important game, and we’ll keep our mentality of being able to play well, with the knowledge that it’s a game to prepare for the World Cup.

“There’s no doubt that the importance is to prepare us well with every game by maintaining the same game style and same game philosophy and to keep mentally strong during those games, which are all very important for us to be able to arrive well at the World Cup.”

Brazil take on Croatia in a FIFA World Cup warm-up at Anfield on Saturday, 3 June (KO 3pm). Tickets from £30 Adults/£10 Under-16s.

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