Brazil continued to struggle with yet another poor performance in Copa América. It was Venezuela this time, an opponent who exposed Brazil’s lack of creativity in the final third….
The Vinotinto‘s performance, which was rewarded with a well-deserved point, also highlighted Tite’s incompetence in making his choices, from the starting lineup to the miscalculated changes throughout the course of the match.
Brazil were indeed held to a goalless draw at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, in front of a disappointing crowd – 42,000 at a stadium that holds 50,000.
The series of empty seats in the two pre-tournament friendlies and the Copa América opener against Bolivia is a sign of two things: supporters are not happy with the quality of football they are seeing at the same time that ticket prices have escalated.
Brazil v Bolivia, as a matter of fact, was the highest-grossing match to have taken place in the country.
Yes, Brazil do not have a Ronaldo Nazário to bail them out of desperate situations anymore. But the problem is much worse than just missing a player.
And even if Neymar’s technical quality sometimes makes up for tactical shortcomings, you can only neglect the real issues for so long.
For example, Neymar was nowhere to be seen against Belgium when the Europeans eliminated Tite’s men in Russia-2018. Still not totally match-fit after missing the last few weeks of the European season due to a broken foot, he was like a shadow on the pitch.
So, what is the real issue at the national team at the moment?
To begin with, Tite does not seem to value physicality nor fitness. You could only wonder what is the physical shape of two fullbacks (Daniel Alves and Filipe Luís), both in their mid-thirties.
They do not make long runs to support the attack, as they already know they don’t have the required stamina to track back. So they just sit and walk around the pitch, basically operating as play-makers.
Brazil need fewer passes that don’t lead to anything, and more flair in one-on-one situations to take on opponents, create space, and make a difference.
This is exactly what young Everton could be doing, but so far he has played only 35 minutes at the Copa América.
Tite is also under criticism for not calling-up players like Vinicius Junior, Douglas Costa and Lucas Moura.
The manager’s starting line-up has Richarlison, a striker who usually drifts to the left-hand side, being deployed on the right. The other winger, Ajax’s David Neres, prefers to play on the right to better exploit his left foot, but is playing on the opposite side.
The most logical choice would have been to play both players in their favourite position, but Tite saw good understanding between Richarlison and Dani Alves on in training and during a 2-0 friendly win against Qatar earlier this month.
After Philippe Coutinho struggled to work in a deeper position in the opening game, despite scoring two goals in the 3-0 win, Tite summoned Arthur in order to allow his Barcelona colleague to play closer to the attackers.
But Coutinho got physically bullied by the Venezuelans. He may be the best player in this squad in terms of technique and ability to decide games, but his contribution throughout the flow of the game has been poor.
Regarding the number 9 role, Brazil’s struggles continue. They are yet to see a convincing striker at a whole major tournament since Ronaldo’s apex. Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino have not stepped up so far.
There are changes needed for Saturday’s game against Peru in Sao Paulo on Saturday if Brazil are to dominate this Copa América.