“The boys with 5-star simply crushed the visitors – Bolivia. There was no sign of tension. There was no sign of nervousness. There was no sign of not playing in national colours for a long time”

The opening matches of any football campaigns are nervy. You always feel the butterfly in the stomach. The nervousness is always palpable and it affects the overall performance more often. Lionel Messi expressed the same after the clash against Ecuador in Buenos Aires, while in Montevideo, Uruguay were to escape courtesy of VAR. Thus, all eyes were on the Boys from Brazil – how the men in yellow shirts start their World Cup Qualification campaign had been the subject of interest.

At the Corinthians Arena, Sao Paulo, the stadium was empty. Surely, the Brazilians were missing the carnival atmosphere, which lifts their performance up. But as soon as the match started, on the pitch, it was noticed, 11-Canharino were flying freely giving everyone the impression, they are enjoying themselves at Sao Paolo and relishing every moment as if it was a Samba Carnival.

The boys with 5-star simply crushed the visitors – Bolivia.

There was no sign of tension.

There was no sign of nervousness.

There was no sign of not playing in national colours for a long time.

The only thing which was evident throughout the 90 minutes was the intent to score more goals and even if the scoreline ended 10-0 it would not have been surprising at all.

It was Samba time at the Corinthians Arena. 

There was no intent to play defensively from Tite, but his approach was aggressive and that is what you need when you play against weaker opponents.

Even though, while managing Corinthians, his formation 4-1-4-1 became famous but during managing Brazil, we could notice, he preferred the 4-3-3 formation more – the midfield remained compact allowing the players upfront to play with freedom. It worked well during the World Cup Qualifiers for Russia, but in Russia, we witnessed Tite being a bit more cautious and it was evident until the match against Bolivia today.

Tite started with a 4-3-3 formation, but it transformed into 4-2-3-1 with Casemiro and Douglas Luiz forming the base.

As the match progressed, there was no sign of caution with aggression or compactness – it was all about attack, attack, and attack.

The two full-backs went high up the pitch – Danilo and Renan Lodi dominated the right and left flank respectively and it was possible because Casemiro dropped deeper to join Marquinhos and Thiago Silva in the defence leaving Philippe Coutinho and Douglas Luiz in the midfield and the two full-backs joined Neymar, Roberto Firmino and Everton Soares.

The formation changed to 3-2-5!

The beauty of the Brazilian display was, they swapped position so quickly that it was never possible to understand, who was playing in which position. It seemed the pressing football of Rhinus Michels was reborn at Sao Paulo.

If Coutinho joined the attack, Firmoni dropped to the midfield and vice versa. The floating Coutinho and Firmino were well aided and abetted by a playmaker and solid in defensive abilities, Douglas Luiz.

The critics are well aware of the qualities of Luiz from the Premier League and at Sao Paulo his supreme control over the ball and dictating the game from the midfield – interlinking the flank and attack hinted, Brazil have found a gem, who has come to stay and cement his place in the team permanently.

Renan Lodi and Danilo were flying like a Canarinho and whenever they used to make those unmarked-runs down the flanks, the Bolivian defence sweat. Especially, the kind of performance Lodi dished out today, the headache of the lack of a left-back should subside gradually. Under the supervision of Simeone, Lodi is shaping up to take the baton from Marcelo.

Fly Canarinho fly

Brazil should have scored two goals inside three minutes; however, Everton and Marquinhos wasted golden opportunities.

But Marquinhos no mistake in the 16th minute as he got on the end of a Danilo cross and headed powerfully past Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe to open the scoring.

Bolivia almost conceded again after Coutinho’s shot from a distance took a wicked deflection and skidded off the turf, forcing Lampe into a fine diving save.

Renan Lodi made an unmarked-run and exposed the fragile Bolivian defence by whipping a ball across the six-yard box for Firmino to tap home.

Firmino netted within four minutes of the restart – Neymar playing a ball to his team-mate, who routinely poked home.

Brazil showed no mercy as Carrasco deflected the ball into his own net past the hour mark before Neymar provided the cross for the onrushing Coutinho to head home emphatically with 17 minutes remaining.

 

Neymar –  Nós te Amamos

It would be difficult to pick the best performer on the pitch, but even if the beloved son of Brazil did not score, but his impact was evident – Neymar was out of this world last night. It is surprising that his name is not in the score-sheet, but he literally toyed with the Bolivians with his spaghetti-feet and was absolutely deadly on the left flank and swapped positions more often to take the central role.

The game just flew through him and when the party is on – Neymar is a treat for the eyes.

We hardly noticed Neymar play with such freedom and joy and the way he was supported by the rest of his teammates, it indicates, Neymar has earned the status of a true leader in whom the rest of the players have faith.

One quality Neymar earned during the Champions League campaign with Paris Saint-Germain and which is, playing the role of a number 8 – dropping deep and marshaling the game from behind. Despite Coutinho and Firmino swapping in between midfield and attack – Neymar was seen consistently flying freely like Diego Maradona of 1986 all over the park. One was left wondering, which role Neymar was playing – as a matter of fact, he was playing the role of a leader and this is the Neymar Brazil always wished for.