Brazil are good – number one in the world good – but they could be even better if Tite stops hanging onto the country’s past
Brazil’s national team has drastically improved since Tite took charge around a year ago. The side has gone from victory to victory, however, recent pre-World Cup experiences were real evidence that the winning streak does not carry itself to the competition if the coach maintains the same squad without getting rid of out-of-favor players.
Alisson, Dani Alves, Miranda, Marcelo, Paulinho and Renato Augusto have started every single World Cup qualifier under Tite, unless in games where they were suspended of injured. The Roma goalkeeper has warmed the bench during the vast part of the Serie A season, which draws question marks about his rightfulness to remain the primary option ahead of the likes of Diego Alves and Ederson – who has just joined Manchester City.
As for the Juventus full-back, he has so often been one of the best at club throughout the last few years, while failing to replicate the same form on international duty. Marcelo has had his fair share of criticism as well, especially during World Cup 2014. Brazil fans remain fearful from playing the two at once. As for Miranda, his form has dropped drastically and his poor footballing skills, as well as his tendency to give the ball away, keep hindering Brazil’s build-up form the back.
Nothing needs to be added concerning Paulinho and Augusto, other than the fact they play in the Chinese Super League, whereas most other national teams rely on midfield architects from Europe’s top five leagues.
While it is true that the team is achieving relatively good results, the level of South American opposition is also a concern, as seven of the last ten World Cup finalists have come from the old continent. Top European dogs like Spain, Italy, Germany, France (heck, even Croatia!) are expected to provide higher intensity than any side Tite’s Brazil have so far bumped into. However, having not tested Bacchi’s team against such type of competitors, it would perhaps be unfair to discredit his work – until proven otherwise.
To Tite’s credit, unlike previous Brazil managers, he seems aware about the importance of prioritizing the team over the individuals. In the past few World Cup campaigns, it seemed that the Seleção was in panic-mode whenever one of the starters was to miss the next encounter – whether for injury as in Neymar’s case, or for an accumulation of cards, as what happened with Luiz Gustavo and Thiago Silva. The former club World Cup winner had the audacity to face Argentina without seven usual starters. Only Paulinho, Renato Augusto, Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus were maintained – yet, Brazil managed to battle a full-power Argentina side, toe-to-toe until the very last minute.
Tite is doing a decent job in charge of Brazil, especially with his willingness to experiment how the team operates in the absence of key players – foreseeing a similar scenario in a decisive knockout game, in Russia 2018.
But on the other hand, the reputable tactician should also foresee different kind of problems, related to the level of some players who he considered “untouchable”. I am especially referring to Paulinho and Renato Augusto. It is time to give chances in central midfield, to the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Giuliano, Fabinho and Allan.