Brasil Global Tour looks back at the major talking points after new coach Tite made it six wins out of six with victory in Lima on Tuesday
Brazil took another huge step towards Russia 2018 on Tuesday as goals from Gabriel Jesus and Renato Augusto sealed a 2-0 victory in Peru to make it six wins from six World Cup qualifiers for new coach Tite.
The five-time world champions came into the twelfth round of the CONMEBOL qualifying as group-leaders and earned all three points to ensure they finished 2016 on top of the pile.
The victory meant Neymar kept up his remarkable record of having only ended on the losing side once in his 74 caps today, and it also saw Gabriel Jesus end 2016 as the Selecao's joint top-scorer alongside a reborn Philippe Continho.
Below, Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour looks back at the major talking points from another happy night for Tite’s Brazi
The 19-year-old Manchester City-bound striker arrived almost from nowhere in 2016 to provide the long-awaited answer to Brazil’s search for a no.9. It came as something of a surprise when he was asked to lead the line on his debut against Ecuador in September, with many believing he would continue to operate from wide, as he did during Brazil’s Olympic success earlier this year. But he has been a revelation, his pace forcing the opposition line back and opening up the space for the likes of Neymar and Renato Augusto to create. Gabriel Jesus had a quiet first-half on Tuesday – spells of apparent inactivity have actually become something of a fixture of his early Brazil career – but, once again, he came alive when the Selecao needed him.
On the evening of ‘the 7-1’, Fernandinho felt the brunt more than most. After replacing Paulinho earlier in World Cup 2014, he had been earmarked by many as the change that could spark the Selecao into life. But everything went wrong that night. He returned to the scene of the crime last week, and found redemption against Argentina. On Tuesday, he became the fifth player to wear the captain’s armband under Tite’s rotational policy, and proved the vital line of protection for a back four that has conceded just once in six matches. He also helped start the attacking moves from the pivot position, and has earned praise for playing through the pain barrier after suffering an early knock, and this time was singled out for putting on a leader’s performance.
A number of Tite’s predecessors have faced criticism for playing favourites, but the former Corinthians man had a shake-up upon his appointment and has already proved he is willing to adjust his line-up depending on performances. Willian, the most-capped Brazil player in the period between the World Cup and Tite’s arrival, for example, began as a ‘holder’ but has since lost his place to Coutinho. Four favourites have emerged, however, and Tuesday saw Alisson, Daniel Alves, Marquinhos and Renato Augusto keep up their record of having played every single minute of the Tite era.
Once again the China-based midfielder turned in a midfield masterclass. He has quickly become, arguably, Brazil’s most important player. For it is he who sets the tone, who controls possession and sets the tempo for those around him. He has also shown an impressive versatility: On Tuesday Tite inverted his central midfield duo to counteract the threat of Peru’s runners from midfield. August had operated largely on the left, providing a vital supply-line to Neymar, but against Argentina he played to the right of Paulinho and on Tuesday played almost as an out-and-out right midfielder at times – and it was from that position that he exploited the space left by a wandering Coutinho to seal victory. Any suggestions that his decision to go to Asia could end his international resurgence have been emphatically dismissed.
Even the most optimistic could not have believed it would have gone this well. Tite himself admitted late on Tuesday night that he has been pleasantly surprised at how quickly his methods have turned Brazil’s fortunes. Six games, six wins, 17 goals scored and just one conceded. Top of the table in World Cup qualifying and, with six matches still to play, just one point away from a total that has been enough to secure automatic qualification for every World Cup since Conmebol introduced its current qualifying tournament ahead of World Cup 1998. Not only that, Brazil have won games by dominating possession and by playing on the counter. They’ve found a striker, a fluid front-line, a balanced midfield, a rock-solid back-four and even sidestepped the biggest issue Brazil have faced in recent years: Neymar-dependency. Tite speaks time and again about the importance of the collective, and every victory so far has been exactly that.