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Brazil getting ready to dance at the World Cup

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DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Brazilian players are hoping to do a lot of dancing at the World Cup in Qatar.

The five-time world champions are feeling jubilant ahead of their debut against Serbia on Thursday, so much that the dance celebrations are all prepared and rehearsed.

Not one, not two, not three — but all 10 of them.

“To tell you the truth, we already have dances prepared for up to the 10th goal,” Brazil forward Raphinha said Monday. “We have some 10 dances prepared for each match, one for the first, one for the second, one for the third … If we score more than 10, then we’ll have to start innovating.”

Brazil brought an offensive-minded squad to Qatar, with Raphinha among the nine forwards picked by coach Tite to try to give Brazil its first World Cup title in two decades.

Another is Vinícius Júnior, who earlier this season was thrown into a controversy over his dances after his goals with Real Madrid. He and teammate Rodrygo kept dancing despite the criticism in Spain, though, and had promised more of the same when they got to the national team at the World Cup.

Raphinha and Neymar were among those who publicly showed their support to Vinícius Júnior at the time.

Striker Richarlison, Brazil’s leading scorer this year, said he hopes the “goals will come naturally” for him and his teammates at the World Cup.

“When you wear the No. 9 jersey with the Brazilian national team, all you want to do is score goals,” he said. “With these teammates, I’m sure the goals will come.”

The other forwards picked by Tite were Pedro, Antony, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli

Richarlison, Raphinha and Neymar are set to start on Thursday against Serbia, but there was still doubt about how Tite would set up his attack for the opener. The coach could use either midfielder Lucas Paquetá in a more attacking position, or Vinícius Júnior up front.

“With Vinícius we gain more speed on the attack, while with Paquetá we have more control near the midfield,” Raphinha said. “But Brazil has a characteristic of always being offensive-minded, no matter who gets to play.”

Brazil’s other Group G matches are against Switzerland and Cameroon.

Brazil is trying to win its first World Cup title since 2002, when a Ronaldo-led squad defeated Germany in the final.

DEFENDING NEYMAR

Richarlison came out defending Neymar after the Paris Saint-Germain star was criticized for posting a photo with a sixth star on his shorts on the flight to Qatar, referring to a possible sixth World Cup title for the Brazilians.

“We are dreamers, we are going after this sixth star no matter what people are going to say,” Richarlison said.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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