While the international break was good news all the way for Douglas Costa, some old Brazilian fixtures might find it hard to book their World Cup place in Russia
Brazil had a very successful FIFA date, achieving two impressive victories against Russia in Moscow, and Germany in Berlin. Thiago Silva, Fred, and Douglas Costa were the biggest winners as they managed to boost their status with the national team. But in such cases, good news for one player is always bad news for another – due to direct competition. So who are the biggest losers?
Tite’s Brazil continues to impress game after game, as he looks to reduce his squad to 23 ahead of the World Cup kickoff in less than three months. Alisson in goal as well as Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Miranda, and Marcelo were considered locks in the back-five. However, one name that had been under question for a while is Thiago Silva.
The Paris Saint Germain captain had an excellent display in the international break, with an impressive last-man clearance against Russia as well as a dominant performance in Berlin, where he pocketed Germany’s two strikers, Mario Gomez and Sandro Wagner throughout the 90 minutes.
It would not be a surprise if, after forming such a strong duo with Miranda, Tite will opt for the two as his center-back partnership for the World Cup, at the expense of Marquinhos who is physically weaker than both, which becomes obvious in aerial duels.
Moving on to midfield, a player who did not get a lot of chances is Fred. But the Shakhtar Donetsk-man has apparently done enough in training sessions, as well in his second-half cameo appearance versus Russia, to earn himself a permanent spot in the final squad – or that’s what the Brazilian press seems confident about.
Renato Augusto did not start either of the games, although it was clear how keen Tite was on achieving victory in Berlin, yet he did not even sub on his former protege. Has the Chinese Super League star lost his position in the starting lineup, after being a key figure for nearly two years?
In Moscow, Tite opted for Coutinho in midfield with both Willian and Douglas Costa on the flanks, whereas in Berlin, the tactical scheme was different, with Fernandinho partnering Casemiro and Paulinho, while Coutinho operated in the Neymar role on the left-hand side – at the expense of Douglas Costa who would come on in the second-half and impress to a certain extent.
Talking of Douglas Costa, the Juventus attacker has not left Tite short of a delight. He seems to have secured his ticket to the World Cup, thanks to his performance across the two friendlies, as well as for the season he is having in Italy.
Gabriel Jesus started both matches and left a lot to be desired, but his match-winning goal against the Germans, was enough to decide the game and give the Brazilians a very important morale boost, breaking a taboo that had haunted them for four years, ever since that famous defeat at the Mineirão stadium in Belo Horizonte, for the semi-final in the last World Cup. As for Taison, it seems that his days with the national team could well be numbered.
In brief, Thiago Silva, Fred, and Douglas Costa have all three won valuable points ahead of Marquinhos, Renato Augusto, and Taison, in the race to guarantee their respective spots for the World Cup. Tite is certainly not short of options, but it seems that the Seleção boss is edging closer to deciding his final squad, with a total of 18 names having already been guaranteed.