Brazil look to be back to their best having already qualified for the 2018 World Cup, but there may still be some tough choices ahead for Tite
Brazil’s national team continues to achieve very satisfying results with newly appointed manager Tite. After officially becoming the first South American side to book a ticket to Russia, the next step is to start preparing for the World Cup itself.
With the tournament being just 14 months away, what are the main three question marks in the Seleção’s lineup?
Goalkeeper – Alisson
Brazil has only conceded two goals in eight qualifiers under Tite. One of them was an own-goal by Marquinhos against Colombia, whereas the second was from a well-placed Edinson Cavani penalty away to Uruguay.
In other words, Alisson is yet to be beaten from open play. So why are there doubts about his importance? Brazil’s defensive system has been solid, and prevented opponents from having freedom in the penalty box. Although the 24-year old has done well whenever he was occasionally tested, he is still considered Wojciech Szczęsny’s reserve goalkeeper at AS Roma.
It is always a concern when a team enters the greatest stage of them all, with a player at such a crucial position, who lacks match rhythm. Add to that, the fact that Benfica goalkeeper Ederson is having an excellent season – which makes you wonder furthermore on whether he deserves to be handed a chance.
Right-back – Dani Alves
The former Barcelona star will be 35 during the World Cup, and by the looks of it, it doesn’t seem that he is getting any better. Even in his best days at club-level, the fullback had struggled to replicate the same performances with the national team, and was often considered Douglas Maicon’s reserve.
But it appears that the veteran has a good chance to make it next summer, although most fans are concerned by his immense decline. Alves makes too many bad passes and often loses possession in dangerous positions.
In the final third, his decision making tends to let him down, as he often tries to be too philosophical instead of playing the obvious ball – something which Corinthians right back Fagner has certainly proved to be an improvement at, in his first two games against Colombia and Paraguay.
The 27-year old tends to keep it simple, and rarely makes mistakes. In terms of defensive abilities, the truth is that both fullbacks tend to be exposed whenever facing a skillful winger, however Fagner remains more energetic and less error-prone in general. It is perhaps no coincidence that the greatest Brazilian right-back over the last three decades, Cafu, has tipped the newcomer to take over.
Centre-back – João Miranda
South American oppositions have not been able to consistently press Brazil high and maintain the intensity throughout the largest parts of the game. Perhaps Chile will be the first real opponent who can potentially do that. In matches against top European national teams such as Germany and Spain, or against intense sides in general like Chile, Brazil’s backline will be put under higher pressure than Tite’s men have been able to experience, so far.
With João Miranda’s passing and ball-abilities being extremely poor, he can potentially be a big liability for Brazil, by giving the ball away in dangerous positions. Furthermore, Tite is trying to implement a modern style of play which allows Brazil to build from the back, with short passes rather than brainlessly clearing the ball and giving away possession. This is where the likes of Thiago Silva, Rodrigo Caio and David Luiz excel. Realistically, the Paris Saint Germain skipper is the most viable option.
It would be an exaggeration to suggest that Brazil’s national team only has three question marks in Alisson, Dani Alves and João Miranda. It is never reassuring when your midfield trio includes two players from the Chinese Super league, even though Renato Augusto and Paulinho have so far performed well in the majority of the games.
Should Adenor Bacchi keep blind faith in the players who have so far helped him achieve a one hundred percent win-record, or should he be proactive enough to spot a couple of catastrophes that are waiting to happen, by learning from the mistakes of Carlos Dunga and Luiz Felipe Scolari?