After too long an absence, Brazil are back to being the best in the world and it’s all down to a rapid turnaround under inspirational manager Tite. Here’s how he did it.
Brazil are back on top of the FIFA rankings for the first time in seven years. When Tite was appointed as new manager in June 2016, the national team was in a state of despair – having been eliminated from the group stages of the Copa América, while occupying 6th spot in the World Cup qualifiers. But everything is different now.
Here are five factors that helped Adenor Bacchi lead the revolution within the Seleção.
1. Coaching skills (duh!)
It is no secret that Tite is, by all means, a far more accomplished coach than Carlos Dunga. Having achieved success internally and continentally during his time at Corinthians, the 55-year old decided to travel to Europe during his sabbatical, where he met with several top managers such as Carlo Ancelotti, and studied tactics in order to modernize his ideas.
The result was immediate, as he improved himself from a defensive-minded coach, into prioritizing possession-based-football. As a matter of fact, Brazil has had more possession than the opponent in every single game so far. It is clear that the team is playing a different kind of football in comparison with previous years.
2. Friendliness with the players
Dunga’s relationship with his players was very strict. It often felt like the team had to operate as an army, under his command. He even did not hesitate to publicly criticize some of his charges such as Thiago Silva in 2014 and Marcelo in 2015. It seemed that he came with a ferocious attitude, which certainly did not help create a convenient atmosphere inside the locker room. On the other hand, with Tite, it seems that the joyful, cheerful spirit is finally back. The boys are now playing with happiness, and enjoying their football again. They regard Tite as a father. This is how the Seleção should always be.
3. Gabriel Jesus
Yes, one player alone is enough to be a reason for Tite’s success. As a matter of fact, while Dunga spent his time trying to figure out which old static striker is the best fit to his system, between Ricardo Oliveira, Jonas and others, Tite was immediately spot on by putting his faith in the young talent of Gabriel Jesus.
The new Manchester City star was able to provide new dimensions to Brazil’s style of play, and proved to be decisive in key moments, especially in away games and in Neymar’s absence. It seems that the team finally has another goal-scoring threat, besides the Barcelona star. When Gabriel is absent through injury, his replacement is Roberto Firmino – who helps in build-up play as well as with his constant movement. This idea of a mobile false nine has proven to be more successful than Dunga’s plan.
4. Studying the opponent
Besides being an excellent tactician, Tite is well known for his ability to analyze opponents, and work on their weaknesses. His preparation plays an important role in tactically outclassing the opposing side. His strategy of sending instructions via WhatsApp messages to the players before every game, has proven to be successful. In many situations under Dunga, it seemed that the players did not understand their role on the pitch – whereas currently, the team looks far more organized. It is no coincidence that the individual performances of several members have consequently improved.
5. Stability in the lineup
Dunga kept jumping from 4-2-3-1, to 4-4-2, to 4-1-4-1. In one game, he would use a static striker, in the next, he would suddenly decide that Neymar should operate as false nine rather than on the left flank. The former manager kept changing players, positions and tactical schemes on a regular basis.
The team was eventually destabilized and failed to create its own identity. It is almost impossible to name Dunga’s starting lineup during his two years in charge, because in every game, we witnessed a completely different side.
On the other hand, Tite’s starting eleven is very well known with Alisson, Alves, Miranda, Marquinhos, Marcelo, Paulinho, Casemiro, Renato Augusto, Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus and Neymar operating in his favorite 4-1-4-1 system. This has certainly helped improve the chemistry between the players, and consequently, has had a notable impact on the results.