Tite’s Brazil is in the USA to play two friendlies and work out where the wheels ran off in Russia and how to get them back on for Copa America 2019
It has been almost two months since Brazil’s World Cup elimination in the quarter-finals against Belgium.
For some reason, it still feels that the five-time champions were out-scored without being out-classed by their European rivals. Small details ended up making the difference between the two sides, but now is time for another new start as Tite’s men are set to face the United States and El Salvador in a pair of friendlies, as preparations for the 2019 Copa América on Brazilian soil, get underway.
For Brazil, the World Cup is always by far the most important competition. But after the failure in Russia, Tite has made it clear that winning the Copa América next summer will be a priority, which therefore means that some veteran members who performed well in Russia, can still be part of the team for the next few months, even though their chances of making it to Qatar 2022 are little to none.
This is the case for Thiago Silva, Filipe Luis, Renato Augusto and Willian. The two defenders were excellent when relied upon, but Willian has never performed well for Brazil in any major tournament. His best appearances have been in friendlies and qualifiers, so the fans believe that he should be dropped from the squad in favor of fresher blood such as Lucas Moura, Felipe Anderson or even Malcom.
Meanwhile, Renato Augusto has been already cut from the team, as his Chinese Super League side has asked the Brazilian federation to release him, due to the major upcoming matches. With the ultra-high salary he earns, it is hard for the Brazil international to refuse duty with his Chinese team.
Brazil’s first post-World Cup matches in 2010 and 2014 were in the United States, beating the host country 2-0 in New Jersey in 2010, as well as beating Colombia 1-0 in Miami in 2014. In both cases, Neymar JR was on the score-sheet. It coincides that this first match following the Russian tournament this time around, will also be in New Jersey against the United States, in a replica of 2010 when Neymar and Ganso made their debuts, and Alexandre Pato scored.
This time, there will be quite a few youngsters looking to signal the start of a new era, notably Barcelona midfielder Arthur, Flamengo star Lucas Paqueta and Everton hitman Richarlison. It will be quite interesting to see how Brazil plays without Paulinho, Fernandinho and Renato Augusto, who have been accused of being the weak links in Brazil’s midfield for over a year now. At last, more technically-gifted midfielders have the chance to impress and keep the old-school veterans on the sidelines for good.
Friendlies are by no means meaningless for national team managers, because it is their only chance to test players or make experiments. For example, Liverpool midfielder Fabinho is set to be operate as right-back, which has been one of Brazil’s weakest links over the past few years.
Tite has a sensational talent-pool under his hands, including the likes of Vinicius Junior who is on fire for the Real Madrid Castilla team. The Seleção boss has enough time to integrate the young talents while combining their energy with the experience of a couple of veterans. The team is capable of winning the Copa América, and then putting in a very strong campaign in the World Cup qualifiers. It all starts against the United States, on Friday, at the MetLife stadium in New Jersey.