Brazil’s World Cup campaign has been stuttering and yet to get into gear – here are five learnings from the two matches so far
1 – Brazil did not panic and showed mental strength
One of Brazil’s major concerns at almost every World Cup is that the players seem to lose their heads every time the result is not going in their favor. However, against Costa Rica, the team kept a high level of concentration which was rewarded later on. It is vital to stay confident up to the last moment, as in football every minute is equally as important.
2 – Douglas Costa is superior to Willian
Willian has been extremely frustrating with his poor displays at the start of the World Cup. Against Costa Rica, the Chelsea man looked out of ideas and failed to be the source of any serious threat to the opposition, whatsoever.
It only took Douglas Costa one half of football to out-perform all three of the Chelsea-man’s halves so far. A much more aggressive dribbler, better ball retention and more efficiency in the final third, it is a huge shame that Douglas is not fit to start against Serbia on Wednesday as a result.
3 – Roberto Firmino deserves more game-time
Gabriel Jesus struggled against Switzerland as well as in the first half against Costa Rica. The Man City player seemed isolated and unable to win his duels against stronger defenders who tried to bully him out of the game on more than one occasion.
However, when Roberto Firmino entered in the second half against Los Ticos in Saint Petersburg, he was able to release some of the pressure from Gabriel, as the two combined together to help Philippe Coutinho open the scoring for the Brazilians. Whether we should see more of the two strikers together, or whether it is the Liverpool-man who deserves a start against a physical Serbian side, is the most frequently asked question in the Brazilian press at the moment.
4 – Tite was intelligent at reading the game and made the necessary changes
Tite might be blamed or questioned by many Brazil fans on his starting lineup in both games so far, but after a disappointing series of substitutions against Switzerland, not bringing Douglas Costa on and leaving Firmino so late to enter the game, it seemed like he had learned from his mistakes.
Tite was quick to bring Costa on at half-time against Costa Rica, before making an audacious move by subbing Firmino on for a midfielder in Paulinho. The impact was almost instant, as Brazil’s game-play notably improved, which led to the two goals.
5 – Neymar has not completely recovered from his injury
The whole Brazilian fanbase was shocked the moment they learned that Neymar had suffered a serious injury that could threaten his participation at the World Cup. But three months later, the Paris Saint Germain star seemed to have recovered.
However, Friday’s game showed exactly why he is still not ready. Neymar looked like he had lost his burst of pace and was unable to out-sprint his marker on numerous occasions. The PSG man’s performance is still affected by the fact that he has not yet regained 100% fitness levels. But what is also concerning is that Neymar looks nervous during matches, even more so than usual. After managing to score in the last moments of the game against Costa Rica, he broke down in tears which highlights just why he is still not over his injury, on a psychological and mental level.