Is it FINALLY Brazil’s time to shine under Tite? After a limp quarter-final exit in 2018 the World Cup favourites are now 15 games unbeaten and with a star-studded attack can end 20 years of hurt
- Brazil are looking to bounce back from a tough 2018 World Cup in Qatar
- Tite has revamped his side with young attacking talent who are unbeaten in 15
- Balance has been key to their success as well as playing to his team’s strengths
- It’s been a painful road for the Selecao after 20 years without World Cup glory
- Brazil must keep their consistency going into Qatar and be ruthless in attack
Brazil’s road to redemption has been anything but an easy road under the guidance manager Tite – who has been more of a firefighter than coach since he took over the reins in 2016.
His first task, to lift a broken group who had been dismally demolished 7-1 in the 2014 World Cup semi-finals by Germany despite being favourites as the host nation. Then at the next tournament in Russia he came under fire as his side were stunned by Belgium in the quarters.
Another rebuild job for the Corinthians boss and back to the drawing board once again. His next task was to win the Copa America the following year, and he did just that as his side went on a 12-match unbeaten run en route to securing the trophy, winning 3-1 against Peru in the final.
Brazil boss Tite has embarked on a painful road to bring the Selecao back to the glory days
His side have gone 15 games unbeaten since losing to Argentina in the Copa America last year
The next edition of the Copa America in 2021 saw Tite’s men suffer another set-back as they were beaten 1-0 by Argentina – a bitter pill to swallow as they watched their rivals celebrate a famous win in their own back yard.
It had shades of the 2014 World Cup heartache as Brazil failed to claim glory despite being hosts, but just after losing to Belgium in 2018, he helped the team use that pain to grow stronger. It was the last time they lost a game.
Tite has bettered Brazil’s unbeaten run following that disappointing 2018 World Cup, with his Brazil side currently on a streak of 15 matches unbeaten since that crushing defeat in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil have won 12 times in those 15 games, with three draws, scoring 38 goals in total during that run.
His work to rebuild Brazil was dealt a huge blow as they were stunned by Belgium in 2018
It’s Brazil’s scary wealth of attacking riches that has been so crucial during their unbeaten streak and one which will act as a massive weapon in their hopes of ending their 20-year wait to lift this famous trophy once again.
Their last win – a 5-1 thrashing of Tunisia – saw four forwards, Neymar, Raphina, Richarlison and Pedro, get on the scoresheet and followed a run from earlier in 2022 that saw them score four plus goals in four consecutive games.
First, a 4-0 win over Paraguay in February, followed up by another 4-0 hammering of Chile the following month. Just a week later they secured a 4-0 win yet again against Bolivia before hammering South Korea 5-1.
Tite’s main dilemma – which is a nice problem to have – has been figuring out how all of his forwards figure into his plans. He has experimented between 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 to get the best out of his attacking men, who will be crucial to any success in Qatar.
In the last game against Tunisia, Tottenham’s Richarlison led the line with Neymar just behind him and Raphina on the right flank. All three found the back of the net, so Tite is doing something right.
He has revolved his Brazil side around his plentiful options in attack – with Richarlison the player he has got the biggest tune out of
It’s Richarlison that Tite has got the biggest tune out of. In 2022 alone, he’s netted seven times in six matches. The Spurs star has had to fight for a starting XI spot for his new club this season but he shouldn’t have much trouble making the line-up for Brazil given his reliability.
Neymar is undoubtedly a key hope for Brazil too, and it helps that he’s been chipping away too. He’s scored four times in four games this calendar year – while Raphinha has three from six.
Those three look most likely to start in an attacking trio so it will please Tite that all the wheels are turning – and while Vinicius Jr hasn’t enjoyed the same kind of form for his country, he’s netted seven times for Real Madrid and will always be a threat as an option on the left wing.
Arsenal forwards Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli are two other contenders to play in his attack, as are Man United’s £85m star Antony and Real Madrid’s Rodrygo. It’s quite simply an embarrassment of riches.
Neymar will play a big role for Brazil in Qatar after netting four goals in four games this year
And Tite showed just how difficult it has been for him to pick just a handful of them going into Qatar by naming nine forwards in his squad for the World Cup – with no room for Liverpool’s trusted forward Roberto Firmino. That is the extent of the quality in that frontline.
Explaining his decision to back so many attacking players, Tite said he wanted to utilise the team’s strengths up front but said it was wrong to suggests that it means Brazil are weak at the back. Tite’s manta is keeping things balanced and that’s exactly what his done with his 2022 squad.
‘We prioritised important players from the midfield to the attack, but keeping our balance is the team’s main idea,’ Tite said. ‘To win at the highest level, we need to create and score. But that doesn’t mean our defensive strength is not key to win.’
Tite finds himself blessed in defence too – with plenty of experience to call upon, including the experienced Thiago Silva of Chelsea, PSG’s Marquinhos – while veteran right-back Dani Alves is also included, with the coach explaining the ex-Barcelona defender will be an ‘articulator’ to the rest of the squad.
Tite’s squad are well balanced but he is putting all his chips into his attack to succeed in Qatar
”He adds technical and tactical aspects that are impressive, to be an organiser, an articulator,’ he said. ‘Sure he is not a 60 to 70 metres player anymore, but he has other virtues. The criteria awards his technical quality, but mental and physical aspects too.’
So while Brazil look a little top-heavy in attack, there certainly is balance there and experience to draw upon. In the middle of the park, Tite also has the steel of Casemiro, Fred and Fabinho – and while the latter two have not enjoyed the best of fort unes for their clubs of late, they will be integral for their countries.
So what are the main things that have changed since the 2018 World Cup? Tite has definitely trusted in a younger group. Four years ago he had veterans like Miranda, Fernandinho, Marcelo, Paulinho and Willian. Now – with the exception of players like Alves and Thiago Silva – it’s very much out with the old and in with the new.
Bremer – who has just signed for Juventus – comes in as fresh blood for his first major tournament, while there is much hope for West Ham’s Lucas Paqueta, who played many of their qualifying games in the build up to Qatar. He’s played seven of their eight games in 2022.
Up front he still has Neymar and Jesus to call upon, but there is fresh talent to choose from Antony and Martinelli – as well as Flamengo striker Pedro, the 25-year-old who just smashed in 30 goals for his club in 2022.
Tite admits his side are among the favourites but warns the margin for error is very slim
Now all eyes are on whether Brazil can go all the way and realise their full potential. They’re well equipped to with a strong team and arguably the best attack force in the whole competition. This side have learned to recover from set-backs and then shown resolve and consistency to put a winning run together and dominate matches.
It’s been two painful decades full of heartache with a nation that so desperately wants to add to their collection of five Jules Rimet trophies. That 7-1 hammering by Germany still aches in the hearts of fans and has taken time to come back from.
You can understand that Tite has somewhat downplayed his side’s chances at Qatar this November, insisting that Brazil cannot afford to make many errors if they are to have a chance of lifting the trophy – though conceded his side are among the favourites.
‘Three or four teams are always picked,’ he said. ‘The tournament has specific characteristics, especially in the knockout phase, the margin of error is small.
Brazil have shown they can deal with setbacks – now is their time to shine and end their 20 years of hurt this Winter
‘Perhaps even more so than in the Copa do Brasil, with home-and-away matches. The World Cup is just one game in the knockout rounds. But we accept that Brazil, yes, is one of the favourites.’
Even at the last World Cup, there was a feeling that the Selecao had turned a corner since their capitulation against Germany in 2014 and they shown a different side to them under Tite in Russia – playing an attractive style of football, dangerous on the attack while keeping things solid at the back.
The fact that Belgium were the first team to score twice against them in his first 26 games in charge simply shows they had a bad afternoon and failed to show up against a top side.
They have a real opportunity to build upon the foundations he has laid down but rest assured Brazil can ill afford to be anything less than the best version of themselves when they arrive in Doha.
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