ANALYSIS - Raisa Simplicio
Goals from Gabriel Jesus and Alex Sandro saw Brazil past hosts Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Friday night. Coach Tite said he was happy with the result but was less pleased by aspects of his team’s performance.
Below, Brasil Global Tour look back at the major talking points from King Saud University.
The standout player on the night, Neymar changed the game by creating both Brazil goals. With a new-found tactical freedom, Neymar spent most of the match operating centrally as a traditional no.10, exactly how he has been playing with his club PSG in recent weeks.
One of the most criticised players during the World Cup in Russia, Gabriel Jesus returned to the national team and immediately got back in the goals. Having been left out of the squad completely last month, his first-half strike upon his return to the side was a huge confidence boost.
The Manchester City striker’s poise and electrifying pace to break in behind the Saudi defence before slotting his neat finish past the goalkeeper was much more like the devastating form we saw from him during World Cup qualifying.
Considered the player who provided balance to this Brazil side like no other during World Cup qualifying, the minor injuries began adding up just before the big show and Renato Augusto was relegated to the bench in Russia.
Perhaps Tite's most trusted man, the cerebral midfield schemer came back into the starting line-up this week and once again displayed his importance to this team, staking a strong claim to remain a part of the coach’s plans. In the first half, Renato found spaces in behind the opposition, while after the break he dropped deeper to help out defensively.
With a new four-year cycle having just kicked off, now is the time for experimenting. And Tite is looking at more than just personnel – on Friday he changed formations three times. Brazil entered the field in a 4-3-3 that alternated between the famous 4-1-4-1. In the second half, Lucas Moura’s arrival saw a switch to 4-2-3-1.
With 20 minutes remaining, Tite shuffled his pack again. This time, Arthur and Richarlison arrived as substitutes and the shape changed to a 4-3-1-2 with no central striker.
Brazil’s regeneration process ahead of next year’s Copa America has left the full-back positions very much up for grabs. Dani Alves appears to have ended his long and successful international career and Marcelo was left out of last month’s squad completely as Tite searches for alternatives.
Fabinho and Alex Sandro were once again handed the chance to leave an impression but neither had a particularly successful evening. The full-back roles, then, are still to be won.