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Tite insists Gabriel Jesus will start ahead of Roberto Firmino at the World Cup

Brazil head coach Tite has confirmed that Gabriel Jesus remains the first-choice striker to lead the line for the Selecao at the World Cup despite the impressive form of Roberto Firmino this term. The Liverpool marksman has enjoyed the best spell of his professional career with 26 goals and 14 assists in all competitions but he still expected to play second fiddle to Jesus, who plys his trade for Manchester City.

Speaking in a press conference, Tite said: “Yes, it’s true what you said [that Firmino has had the more impressive campaign than Gabriel]. But [Jesus] came back [from injury] and is in great form. Initially, it’s Gabriel who will start.” Meanwhile, in an interview with ESPN Brazil, City boss Guardiola was asked about his opinion on the situation to which he said: “Tite has a problem. Not me. It’s his problem. But it’s a debate. An infinite discussion. Brazil has two incredible attackers, two fantastic strikers. Gabriel has an energy, a contagious desire. I believe this calms with age. Firmino is older but has been out of Brazil for some time.”

Both players have been impressive for their respective clubs over the course of the season but Tite has, for now, decided to go with Jesus, who is expected to captain his nation in an international friendly against Croatia prior to the World Cup. Nevertheless, Firmino could have a route back into the starting lineup during the global tournament with Tite hinting that a change is possible if Jesus fails to deliver.

Brazil are currently mentioned as favourites to clinch the World Cup this summer but their initial focus is likely to lie on the group stage. The South American nation have been pitted against Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia in their World Cup group and Tite would expect nothing less than a first place finish in the standings.