Finally able to try out their skills outside of South America, Brazil found a brick wall at Wembley to show there is still work to be done for Tite
Tite’s first test against European opposition finally arrived as England hosted Brazil at Wembley this week. Although the game ended in a goalless draw, it was enough to expose some of the weaknesses of the five-times world champions.
The friendly clash in London was one of the most difficult games for Tite’s Brazil so far. Despite missing the services of Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Harry Kane, the Three Lions were still able to put in a very strong defensive performance.
England chose to sit deep rather than pressing high, which left Brazil with a lot of ball possession – 65%, in fact – but a possession that quickly became useless, as the South Americans were never able to take advantage of their dominance by creating clear goal-scoring chances.
The first 45 minutes were extremely dull, with Philippe Coutinho often dropping back to operate as fourth central midfielder, leaving the right-flank basically non-existent, with Dani Alves no longer being the explosive force he once was. Meanwhile, the scene on the left was not much different, with Marcelo operating as a wide play-maker in charge of passing the ball forward, rather than making the long-runs that he is used to at Real Madrid.
The fullbacks had to operate as playmakers due to the midfield trio, especially Paulinho and Renato Augusto, failing to find any way of advancing the ball. A possible scenario at half-time, would have been replacing Augusto with Willian, with the Chelsea-man replacing Coutinho on the wing, while the latter takes a permanent central role to boost creativity.
However, with Coutinho returning from injury, the medical staff did not allow him to play more than an hour. The Liverpool-man seemed isolated for much of the game, and did not appear to be at his best fitness levels, which certainly affected Brazil’s overall performance.
Brazil’s midfield is high in energy but low in creativity. Tite has this “handbrake” for def stability/ balance. Its worked very well in qualification. But against a weakened England team they have created little. The fans call for Coutinho to play in midfield will increase now
— Michael Beale (@MichaelBeale) November 14, 2017
The game produced more evidence as to why Neymar needs to release the ball much quicker to make Brazil’s play more dynamic. In the first half, he was playing alone instead of trying to launch plays with his teammates. In the second, he was more willing to pass, and came up with some eye-catching through-balls that led to Brazil’s most dangerous chances. The PSG star needs to dedicate himself to the team if he is to lead his nation in Russia 2018.
Although not heavily tested, Alisson was able to keep another clean sheet whereas Marquinhos and Miranda looked reassuring. On the other hand, Gabriel Jesus failed to make a notable impact, but he will return to Manchester City in good spirits after scoring against Japan and playing the majority of the England match. Fernandinho came on as a second half substitute and was behind Brazil’s most dangerous chance, from long range, proving why he is an improved option over Renato Augusto.
A professional performance tonight against one of the best teams in the world. It was a pleasure to share the same pitch as you @DaniAlvesD2 after watching and admiring you over the years! ??? #threelions @England pic.twitter.com/YnLch3RMFv
— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) November 15, 2017
Tite’s lineup against England, was almost the same that he used in his debut against Ecuador, over a year ago – with the only exception of Coutinho displacing Willian. It doesn’t feel that the Brazil boss is willing to make fundamental changes, but one player who seems under threat is Renato Augusto, with Fernandinho pushing for his spot.
The World Cup is fast approaching, and it is clear that Brazil’s biggest issue at the moment is a lack of creativity in midfield. The fans want Coutinho, although would happily settle for Fernandinho as long as Renato Augusto is dropped.