Brazil beat Bolivia in the Copa América opener at the Morumbi stadium in São Paulo. But despite the 3-0 win, the performance was frustrating and the fans were not happy….
Without further ado, here are 5 things we learned from the match:
1. Tite is stubborn
Starting Fernandinho alongside Casemiro, two enforcers against a side that not only parked the bus but could not play a series of 3 successful passes, was wrong on so many levels.
Brazil clearly struggled in terms of creativity in the first half, yet Fernandinho’s positioning mostly remained deep.
It was only in the second half that the instructions clearly changed, as the Man City man was asked to make more forward runs to support the attack. Except that he’s technically limited and does not have the athleticism for it. Ironically, this is Allan’s best function, yet, Tite insisted on the City-man and ignored the other alternative.
2. Scorelines are often misleading
If you look at the score and at the stats, you would think that Brazil completely dominated the game. While the truth is that despite controlling possession, the Seleção was not as comfortable as the stats would suggest.
The lack of ideas in the final third was evident, and it took a penalty in the second half to break the deadlock. After that, the game would never be the same as Bolivia had to open up their defense a bit, leaving spaces for the 5-time world champions to exploit. The result was good, yet the performance was worrisome and left a lot to be desired.
3. Coutinho needs space to thrive
The first half was very difficult for the Barcelona starlet, as he struggled to get hold of the ball in uncrowded areas. In their defense, the Bolivians did a very good job in closing down spaces. Other attacking midfielders are usually stronger physically and are better in retaining the ball, or even getting hold of the ball while on the receiving end of vertical passes, often with their back turned to goal. But in Philippe’s case, he often gets bullied out of challenges and loses 50/50 duels.
The closer he is to the penalty box, the more dangerous he is. Luckily, Coutinho is also very proficient at creating spaces for himself (and teammates), thanks to his agility and very intelligent movement. This approach could pay dividends against less defensive sides.
4. Dani Alves can’t run like before
For all his quality on the ball, there’s just no running away from the fact that Dani Alves has lost crucial yeard. He failed on numerous occasions to make the long runs and receive the pass. It’s a problem because Richarlison did not operate as a winger but rather stayed central.
Against opponents that sit deep, you need to stretch out wide, take on the wing backs with pace and cross the ball in. Neither one of the 2 was able to play this role, which clearly made Brazil’s attack less effective.
5. Marquinhos and Thiago Silva are crucial in possession
The back-line was one of Brazil’s best offensive assets against Bolivia. Dani Alves and Filipe Luís played interesting vertical balls, but Marquinhos and Thiago Silva were the pillars of build-up play.
The PSG defensive partnership thrived in delivering the ball to the front 4. In terms of passing, this is definitely Brazil’s best back-line in a major tournament since the 2014 World Cup. Let’s just hope they don’t forget their essential job this time – to actually defend.