ANALYSIS - Raisa Simplicio in USA
A new era of Brazilian football could hardly have made a smoother start this month as the Brasil Global Tour brought two victories and two equally comfortable performances for the Selecao.
Last week in New Jersey, the five-time world champions saw off the United States 2-0 in a dominant performance.
Oh what a night!— Brasil Global Tour (@BGT_ENG) September 9, 2018
And on Tuesday, their second post-World Cup test saw them blow away El Salvador 5-0 at FedExField in Landover, on what was a particularly successful night for a number of new faces who look primed to play a major role in Brazil’s future.
A new cycle ahead of Copa America 2019 and World Cup 2022, then, kicked off in style.
And below we take a closer look at the major talking points of a happy September for the five-time world champions.
Tite himself admitted this week that the pain of Brazil’s World Cup quarter-final defeat was still keeping him up at night. But the coaching staff are fully-focused on heeding the lessons from Russia and emerging stronger than ever. Defeat, after all, is part of the process.
And the 11 members of World Cup squad who retained their places in the first group of a new era were most certainly focusing on the future as they ensured the atmosphere around the camp was as positive as ever. The 13 newcomers were welcomed with open arms and every training session was contested in great spirit, with the senior pros leading the jokes as a new generation enjoyed a smooth transition to the big time.
Ahead of this month’s Brasil Global Tour dates, Tite and technical director Edu revealed the six matches in 2018 would be used to trial and observe new players with one eye on next year’s Copa America.
And Tite was certainly happy with what he saw as a new generation bridged the gap to fit in seamlessly with the coach’s regulars. There were no less than eight debuts handed out this month as Neto, Felipe, Eder Militao, Andreas Pereira, Arthur, Lucas Paqueta, Richarlison and Everton all represented their country for the first time at senior level.
After a host of untimely injuries significantly hampered Douglas Costa’s progress with the national team prior to the World Cup, the Juventus winger arrived in USA reborn. High on confidence, he edged Willian out of the team on the right of Tite’s midfield and was roundly received as the Selecao’s top performer against USA.
The pace and penetration he offers was on display for all to see when he created the opener for Roberto Firmino in new Jersey and put in another fine performance against El Salvador, notably retaining his role in the starting XI as Tite shuffled his pack. September 2018 appears to be the month Douglas Costa won back his place in the Brazil team.
In a decision that came as quite a surprise, Tite announced in USA that he would be brining an end to his policy of rotating the captaincy. The time had come, he said, to appoint a permanent leader – and that would be Neymar.
The PSG man publicly resigned from the role just weeks before Tite’s first match in charge of Brazil back in September 2016 and his re-appointment caused plenty of debate back home. The idea is to give Neymar more responsibility to help ensure continues to grow and mature ahead of World Cup 2022, at which point he will be 30-years-old. Tite also highlighted the leadership qualities of Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Casemiro.
Of all the newcomers to the Brazil squad this month, few will be as happy with his week as Richarlison. The Everton forward only arrived a late replacement for the injured Pedro, but took full advantage of being handed the coveted no.9 shirt.
Quick, strong and eternally playing on the vertical, his incisive penetration against El Salvador saw the 21-year-old win a penalty within a few minutes of kick-off before helping himself to two goals of his own. Richarlison had already impressed Tite in training and will now join Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus in the battle to be Brazil’s centre-forward.
Time and again prior to the World Cup, Tite spoke of his search for a ‘Ritmista’ – someone who could set the rhythm in his midfield. Of all of those trialled by Tite during his two years in charge, nobody had shown the class and poise of playmaker Renato Augusto. However, Renato arrived in Russia carrying an injury and having recently lost his place in the team.
With Renato having pulled out of this month’s Brasil Global Tour for personal reasons, a successor was sought more than ever – and he appeared in the form of Barcelona star Arthur. After a previous call-up in which he failed to make it onto the field, the former Gremio man made a cameo appearance against USA before starting the match versus El Salvador and appeared exactly the man Tite has been looking for.