Thiago Silva calls for World Cup qualifying changes

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South American teams currently play each another twice in a single group for a total of 18 matches. The top four qualify for the FIFA World Cup, with the fifth-placed team entering a play-off against a team from Asia, which could be Australia in 2022.

Given the scale of the continent and the fact many players ply their trade with European clubs, huge distances need to be traversed and matches can be played at significantly varying altitudes and temperatures in the space of just a few days. 

Brazil centre-back Silva believes a change is needed, with FIFA having reportedly met with some players to discuss what a new format could look like for the first 48-team FIFA World Cup in 2026.

"It's not the 18 games, but the travelling we do. It's a lot of mileage compared to the Europeans, who play close together," Silva was quoted as saying by Globo Esporte.

"There's a lot of wear and tear, in addition to the climate, which is totally different from what we are used to in Europe.

"Me and the team had a hard time training in Teresopolis, which is colder than Rio de Janeiro [where Brazil played Chile on Friday AEDT]. This can hinder performance.

"If we could somehow find a balance in these trips, it would certainly facilitate our stay and our performances.

"It's definitely unnecessary wear and tear, in my opinion."

After defeating Chile 4-0 in the heat of Rio on Friday (AEDT), Brazil will play its final qualifier against Bolivia at more than 3500 metres above sea level on Wednesday (AEDT).