The Selecao slumped to a frustrating draw with Panama at the Dragao and left Tite much to ponder ahead of next week's BGT clash with Czech Republic
OPINION - Raisa Simplicio
Lucas Paqueta grabbed his first ever Brazil goal on Saturday but it wasn't enough to steer Brazil to victory over Panama in the Selecao's first test of 2019.
Wearing Brazil's number 10 jersey – usually reserved for Neymar – for the first time, Paqueta scored just past the half-hour mark, though Panama equalised in contentious fashion through captain Adolfo Machado, who appeared to be offside.
Below, Brasil Global Tour look back at the major talking points from the Emirates Stadium.
On the eve of the match, Coach Tite had expressed his concern over his side’s chances to create in midfield, and his fears were confirmed during the match. With a midfield who had never before all played together, the Selecao found it difficult to create opportunities against a Panama side that defended deep and in numbers.
Casemiro sent in a brilliant cross for Lucas Paqueta’s goal and they twice hit the woodwork from crosses into the box, but overall certainly lacked the guile we’ve seen from them in recent times.
The main attraction of the Selecao in the absence of the injured Neymar, Philippe Coutinho will feel frustrated at being unable to step up and lead the attack against Panama. The Barcelona man, who has struggled for form with his club of late, didn’t enjoy one of his better evenings in the yellow jersey.
Tite tried shifting him inside in order to coax more out of him, but the former Liverpool man had one of those days where nothing seemed to come off. He remains a hugely important player to this side and will be one of the leading lights at Copa America, of course, but was left to rue a missed opportunity on a personal level.
There were some positives, however, such as seeing Lucas Paqueta open his international account. The versatile midfielder operated in both wide and central areas, exchanging positions with Coutinho, and it was from Coutinho’s starting role on the left that Paqueta ghosted in to volley home the opener.
The AC Milan man no doubt has a huge future with the national team, and hit what will likely be the first of many for his country; but he will also have to check his temper after his frustrations boiled over with a foul that could have seen him dismissed on another day.
Nobody can question Neymar’s worth to this side, and neither can they doubt the captain’s commitment to the Selecao. Ruled out of the squad this month through injury, he skipped the chance to take a holiday and instead travelled from Paris to Porto to take his place in the stands at the Dragao.
He will likely define Brazil’s success or failure in the Copa America later this year and will lead the side in World Cup 2022 – and they can’t wait to have him back out on the field again.
In the post-World Cup 2018 era, nobody has appeared for the Selecao more than Arthur and Richarlison, each with seven appearances. Everton forward Richarlison has been one of the major bright sparks since Russia, with his enthusiasm and dynamism – both on and off the field – spreading smiles and winning friends from the changing rooms to the press box.
He, like many of his colleagues, did not enjoy one of his better afternoons, but once again refused to give up and battled until the final whistle – and he was unlucky not to hit the winner when his effort hit the crossbar. Richarlison has also won fans in every stop of the Brasil Global Tour – and once again he was the last one out, shaking hands and posing for photos with fans in the stands at the Dragao.