“This is not the era of Brazil where each and every player was ready to shine, no matter which position they played. This is the era where talented players with decent and not extraordinary abilities exist – they just need the right position to play and obviously, enough playing time should be given. But, as I said, none could understand what Tite is thinking”
After a dismal show against Venezuela at Caracas, the boys of Tite dished out a dismal display against Colombia – apart from the altercations between Neymar and Yerry Mina; there was nothing significant from the Selecao at Barranquilla. Brazil dropped points for the first time in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and yet again, Tite’s tactics were heavily criticized.
What is Tite thinking?
One can be sure, if no injuries happen, Tite would start with Alisson, Casemiro in front of him while Neymar leading the attack upfront in Qatar – but the space between the defensive and offensive area, even after four years, nothing is organized since World Cup 2018.
The search is for the best harmony between the offensive model and the players who would be chosen to execute it.
In the last three matches, the Selecao played either in a 4-2-2-2 switching to a 4-1-3-2 or, Tite’s favourite 4-1-4-1.
Fred was like a confused character at the centre of the pitch who was outweighed several times by the Colombian players and his lack of creativity hampered Brazil badly. Meanwhile, Gabigol up front was another confused character, who still has not figured out what to do when wonderful scoring opportunities pass by.
The role of Lucas Paqueta as a winger or false nine – as they are saying – seems to be one of the most wasted ideas ever executed by a Brazilian coach. Paqueta is not an allrounder like the past legends who would gel well in any positions, rather he is more of a regista and like Bruno Guimares – he loves to pull the strings from the deep.
And on what basis Everton Ribeiro makes the cut in the starting eleven as a right-winger remains a moot question.
At present, Tite has built the Selecao with a lineup of three players in front of the wheel and two moving forwards inside.
In the victory over Venezuela, of below-average performance, this line of three had Ribeiro on the right, Gerson in the middle and Paqueta on the left. In the tie with Colombia, Gabriel Jesus and Fred replaced Ribeiro and Gerson – ultimately cutting a frustrating figure.
These changes hinted that Tite is searching for the missing parts between the defensive and offensive line – well, he can’t fix things, until and unless he starts with the right players, who would set the tone and boost the confidence.
It seems, we seem to talk the same thing in different ways, but still, unable to decipher the mind of a coach, who replaced a frustrating Carlos Dunga back in 2016 and gave everyone a lot of hope.
Tite’s career includes titles won in various tactical formations – all built from the balance between the defensive and offensive phases – also determined by the evolution of the game. His most recent great moments, at Corinthians and in the Selecao, had either fast attackers endowed with the ability to unbalance defensive systems with dribbling and deep plays or creative midfielders with accurate space reading to move towards to the middle and generate superiority and approximation.
The first category includes Raphinha, Antony, Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo Goes, Cebolinha, Douglas Costa, Malcom, Gabriel Jesus, Phlippe Coutinho and Neymar.
In the second category – Everton Ribeiro, Claudinho, Jadson, Bruno Guimares, Paqueta, although this movement still doesn’t seem to be such a present and natural element in his ascension.
Jesus has an exciting start to the season as a right-winger at Manchester City and had a good performance in the 2019 Copa America, but still, his selection as a right-winger in the current Brazil side needs further evaluation.
To receive the ball closer to the opponent’s area, other mechanisms of the positional game would need to be more adjusted, such as the conduction of the ball to the offensive field, by the defenders, and a smaller distance from him, Jesus, to the lateral.
At City, the presence of a trio of midfielders usually favours faster ball circulation and this also allows a pass to find it in better conditions, against a less balanced marking.
This is another issue to be resolved by Tite in this space between Casemiro and Neymar: the composition of the midfield.
In the overwhelming beginning, Renato Augusto and Paulinho shared functions – the first one varying the pace, accelerating or pacing according to the demand of the game, and helping the origin of the plays; the second with its constant infiltration, taking advantage of the spaces created by the movement of attackers and arriving at the area to finish.
The momentary decision to use a central attacking duo, motivated by Neymar’s transformation, calls for a second defensive midfielder that can bring together as many of the characteristics of Renato Augusto and Paulinho as possible.
It’s easier to find that type of midfielder in other countries.
Here, Tite runs into a problem with the formation of Brazilian football, a conceptual delay in relation to the understanding of the game.
Apart from the updated version of Lionel Messi as a midfielder, arch-rival, Argentina has Rodrigo e Paul, who dictates the game from the deep and gives Argentina the edge in between the offensive and defensive area. Italy have a Marco Verratti, France have a Paul Pogba with players like Camavinga waiting under the wings and Germany have a Joshua Kimmich – meanwhile, Brazil does not have such assets.
Paqueta and Guimares could have been built by giving them time and right positions – but the biggest loss is the downfall of Arthur Melo and Coutinho.
Arthur is the one who could complement very well with Casemiro or Fabinho in Tite’s 4-2-2-2 system while Coutinho would have given Neymar the boost from the central attacking position by moving from the left to centre.
But there is no meaning in wasting time for those who are still trying to rediscover themselves, rather, it would be better to exploit the right ones – that same school of thought – choose the right players and settle a team for the World Cup.
From 2018 until now, Brazil has attacked in all the ways described in this text, in addition to transforming the left-back into a winger, forming a 2-3-5 with minimum effect.
Today, it alternates between a ball outing with seven players (goalkeeper, full-backs, defenders and midfielders) and another, a little more advanced, with three (defenders and one of the full-backs).
This is not the era of Brazil where each and every player was ready to shine, no matter which position they played. This is the era where talented players with decent and not extraordinary abilities exist – they just need the right position to play and obviously, enough playing time should be given. But, as I said, none could understand what Tite is thinking.