A plethora of football talent means that Tite has some tough decisions to make to find the right balance in Brazil’s engine room in Russia
Tite recently unveiled Brazil’s 23-man World Cup squad, set to travel to Russia for the major event. While the list of players isn’t too debatable and did not including any surprise picks, the biggest question that remains to be answered is about how will the 5-time world champions lineup. The most unpredictable part is midfield, so let’s try to have a look at the best options.
Adenor Bacchi has relied on a midfield trio constituted of Casemiro, Paulinho and Renato Augusto, which has certainly delivered the goods during the World Cup qualifiers. However, there is a question mark over Augusto who plies his trade in China and is far from being a popular option among the fans. It seems like there is a consensus, at least within the supporters, that he should be dropped from the starting lineup. It is a demand that isn’t too far from turning into a reality, as the Chinese Super League star was benched in the last two friendly fixtures against Russia and Germany, being replaced by Philippe Coutinho in the first and Fernandinho in the second.
If there is an agreement that Renato Augusto should be dropped, then who is the one best-suited to replace him? Coutinho has so far formed an excellent partnership with Gabriel Jesus and Neymar Junior to guide Brazil’s front three in the CONMEBOL qualifiers. This trio is certainly regarded as the best in the continent over the past few months. So is it a wise decision to modify the Barcelona-man’s role?
While it’s true that Fernandinho has just come out of a phenomenal season with Manchester City, cementing himself as one of the most consistent and best midfielders in Europe, it cannot be ignored that a midfield of Casemiro, Paulinho and Fernandinho seems too defensive and not technical nor creative enough for a Brazil side.
However, it did work out just fine against the Germans in Berlin, as Tite’s men were able to pull a narrow victory. But with Willian and Douglas Costa having impressive seasons with Chelsea and Juventus respectively, Brazil can afford to replace Coutinho with another winger, if he was to be moved to a midfield spot.
Coutinho can certainly do a job in midfield, but then again, in this case, who should his two partners be? The options are Casemiro, Paulinho and Fernandinho. The Real Madrid-man has head and shoulders locked the defensive midfield role, which leaves Paulinho and Fernandinho competing for the remaining spot. The popular opinion would certainly favor the Barcelona duo, but I will go with Fernandinho, Casemiro and Coutinho as the best and most balanced midfield trio for Brazil.
When Coutinho and Paulinho play together, the latter is always making forward runs which forces Philippe to be more conservative in his game, and to cover for him, whereas the former Liverpool star needs it to be the other way round. Fernandinho is a good passer, a hard-worker and can allow Coutinho to enjoy offensive freedom, behind a very deadly attacking force.
Overall, Tite has some excellent options at disposal. It’s hard for him to go wrong no matter whoever he decides to pick eventually.