ANALYSIS - Raisa Simplicio & Rupert Fryer
Following this year’s World Cup in Russia, The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) chose not to focus on the negative of a quarter-final elimination by Belgium, but instead on the positives of two years of excellent work under coach Tite.
After taking control of the Selecao at their lowest point in decades, the former Corinthians boss wasted no time in returning the five-time world champions to world football’s top table.
The short-term covered six Brasil Global Tour dates between September and November of this year, during which a number of new players would be trialled. The medium-term focused on victory at the Copa America in Brazil next year, while the long-term focus was on building a team to claim the World Cup in Qatar.
November’s BGT dates vs Uruguay and Cameroon, then, present Tite with his final opportunity to look at some new faces. Napoli midfielder Allan is the high-profile new arrival, with the technical staff hoping his smart-passing and defensive solidity can offer Brazil more control of the midfield.
The other big piece of news from last week’s squad announcement was the return of Paulinho, who joins his country for the first time since this year’s World Cup.
The Copa America squad is fast coming together and Paulinho’s return is another reminder that Tite is keen to blend the new with the old, retaining a solid core of trusted internationals who have played such a vital role in the Selecao’s rebirth.
Tite also sent out a message to Manchester City’s Fernandinho, suggesting he too will be recalled from the dark. Flamengo starlet Lucas Paqueta was namechecked, too, and can expect to return after missing out last month due to his club commitments.
The likes of David Neres at Ajax and Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior are yet to receive opportunities, but Tite has handed already handed out nine debuts since the World Cup (Neto, Felipe, Eder Militao, Andreas Pereira, Arthur, Lucas Paqueta, Richarlison, Everton and Pablo).
Some of whom have remained, such as Arthur and Richarlison, who took full advantage of their opportunities and are fast becoming established members of the squad, with Arthur perhaps even a starter.
For many, though, roles are still are very much up for grabs and it’s worth noting that Tite has also started experimenting heavily with different formations, moving away from his tried and tested 4-1-4-1.
Last time out, he went with something approaching a 4-4-2/4-3-3, with both Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino starting a match together for the first time. That appeared not to work, however, and the role of starting forward is still being hotly contested by the duo, with Richarlison also a contender.
The return of Cruzerio defender Dede, meanwhile, will see another player vying for a role alongside Marquinhos at the heart of the defence.
November’s Brasil Global Tour will provide Tite with a final opportunity to make some lasting decisions on his first XI, his shape, idea of play and squad overall.
The idea was to have the Copa America team compete in March’s Brasil Global Tour friendlies ahead of what feels like a must-win tournament for the coach.