With Marcelo and Filipe now fading forces, an Alex Telles v Alex Sandro battle is brewing to run Brazil’s left wing in Copa America
One of Brazil’s biggest problems in the past few World Cup tournaments has been the fullbacks. With Dani Alves not getting any younger and Danilo not yet showing that he is up to the responsibility, there’s not a lot of hope for finding an adequate right-back for the upcoming Copa América. But the situation is totally different on the left-hand side, with the emergence of Alex Telles and Alex Sandro.
Marcelo has had two very disappointing World Cup tournaments in Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018. It is therefore very difficult for Brazil fans to trust him again. Whereas Filipe Luís, for all his qualities, is injury-prone and getting older by the day. It is the ideal moment for Brazil to renovate its options in this position. And thankfully, there are two very talented individuals on the horizon, waiting to seize their chance.
Marcelo’s essential problem is that sometimes, he simply either cannot defend or forgets that he has defensive responsibilities. It was so obvious against Germany and Belgium, in Brazil’s last two World Cup exits. On the other hand, he just never manages to score a sufficient number of goals, or provide enough assists for the Seleção, to make an argument for him and say that his offensive contribution makes up for his defensive flaws. In fact, he has never registered a goal involvement in two World Cups with Brazil.
Young Alex Telles, who is an excellent crosser and the leading assist-provider at FC Porto this season with nine, is certainly worth a shot. Meanwhile, Alex Sandro is known for being one of the best fullbacks out there, defensively speaking. In this sense, both of them have something to add over the Real Madrid vice-captain who is no longer an untouchable figure for the Spanish giants.
Frankly speaking, no one will be extremely upset if Filipe Luís does end up making the Copa América squad, but the way forward for Brazil is to start by integrating the new generation as soon as possible, rather than sticking to options who have already had their chances in the past. The younger options are more energetic and more enthusiastic, it should be their moment to show their credentials to Adenor Bacchi.
The fullbacks have been one of Brazil’s major weaknesses in the recent major tournaments. If the team is not able to rely on two top offensive fullbacks who can influence a game the way Roberto Carlos and Cafu could, then Brazil should at least be looking to play two fullbacks who will not be the reason why the team concedes crucial goals that could have been easily avoided with better positioning, tactical awareness and/or one-on-one marking. With less spaces to cover, the midfield would consequently have more freedom to concentrate on building attacks, rather than being constantly worried about which fullback they have to cover.
The Copa América on home soil is fast approaching, it is zero hour for Tite and for the Seleção to win back the hearts of the fans, or to distance themselves furthermore. It is the convenient moment to start a revolution in the left-back position by trusting Alex Sandro and Alex Telles.