In the space of just 12 months, Brazil have turned from struggling sleeping giants into strong favorites to wear the World Cup crown in Russia
Brazil’s national team enjoyed a successful year and will be looking to maintain the high level of performances in the next few months, heading into the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Adenor Bacchi’s men achieved some impressive results throughout 2017, but it remains to be seen as to whether the national team is ready to collide with the big European powerhouses.
2017 was quite an impressive year for Tite, who is just about to complete his first full calendar year in charge of Brazil. The five-time world champions pulled-out some eye-catching results, beating Uruguay in their fortress in Montevideo by a scoreline of 4-1, before smashing Paraguay 3-0 at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, four days later. The home-soil victory meant that Brazil would be the first team to officially book a place to join the hosts Russia, for 2018.
The most breathtaking performance was perhaps the 3-0 victory against Chile at the Allianz Parque, again in Sao Paulo, when Gabriel Jesus and co inspired Brazil to a dominating display throughout the course of the game. Brazil had not dominated in a big game while remaining in control for large parts of the ninety minutes, for a long time. It seemed that Tite’s choices were paying dividends and proving to be the right picks, game after game.
However, the last match of the year which happened to be a friendly against England at the Wembley Stadium in November, was arguably Brazil’s worst display under the command of Tite. The Three Lions showed high defensive resilience by sitting deep and blocking all Neymar’s attempts. It seemed that the national team could not find a way to reach the goal. This lack of creativity could be interpreted in different ways, such as fielding a work-house midfield – as Bacchi is often accused – of Casemiro, Paulinho and Renato Augusto, instead of allowing the innovative Philippe Coutinho to operate in a central role.
The Liverpool star has been a pillar for Brazil in recent times, but there is an ongoing debate in the press and among fans, as to whether he is being wasted out wide. Would it not be more efficient to move him to midfield, allowing more pace on the right-hand side?
All in all, Brazil is one of the top contenders to claim gold in the World Cup. But there are some clear weaknesses that cannot be denied, such as the ability of Dani Alves and Marcelo to track back, and whether Casemiro and Renato Augusto will be enough to cover the spaces they are likely to leave behind them. Meanwhile, the attack seems to be one of the strongest points, with Brazil’s goal-scoring record being extremely impressive in the qualifiers.
What Tite needs to do to boost Brazil’s hopes, is to put faith in technically gifted central midfielders who have proven themselves throughout the past few months, such as Gremio’s Arthur and Shakhtar’s Fred – who is being strongly linked to Manchester City. A strong midfield is often the secret of success for the world cup winners in the past few tournaments, especially with Italy in 2006, Spain in 2010 and Germany in 2014.