All 23 members of Brazil’s World Cup squad left with the feeling they wanted more – but few yearned to have seen more playing time than Douglas Costa.
Having gone into the tournament as a reserve, the flying Juventus forward arrived a substitute in the Selecao’s second group game against Costa Rica and had an immediate impact, with his incisive, penetrative play seeing him create Brazil’s second in the 2-0 win.
picked up a thigh injury and would not return until the quarter-final, when he once again came off the bench, but couldn’t help Brazil past Belgium.
He left Russia having seen just seen just 76 minutes on the field. And once again, for a man whose international career had been repeatedly halted by injury problems over the past two years, Douglas Costa was left ruing his luck.
Indeed, he may well have gone into Russia as a first-team regular had his progress under Tite not been derailed by one injury after another.
His importance under the previous coach, Dunga, was underlined by the fact he was named as one of Brazil’s three overage players for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
But a host of muscle injuries would cost him his place at two Copas America and a gold medal at Rio 2016 – and he’s since been left on the outside looking in.
But the coaching staff refused to give up on Douglas, whose pace, intensity and ability to constantly break opposition lines through his piercing dribbling always offered the Selecao the weapons required to break down stubborn defences.
Firmino scores opener for Brazil after brilliant Douglas Costa run
That speed! Lovely finish from Roberto Firmino, but how about that run from Douglas Costa?Posted by Brasil Global Tour on Saturday, September 8, 2018
And on Thursday in New Jersey, the 27-year-old will feel like he made something of a breakthrough. In the early stages of the 2-0 victory over USA, coach TIte could be heard telling Douglas that his marker was pressing too high, leaving space in behind to be exploited.
Next time Douglas received the ball on the right, he stood up an advancing Antonee Robinson before bursting past the defender on the outside and sending in a perfect cross to allow Roberto Firmino to tap home the opener from close range.
His sprint was recorded at around 34km/h and served as a stark reminder of exactly what the former Bayern Munich man can offer Tite’s Selecao. He was singled out by many back home as the man of the match.
And ahead of Tuesday’s Brasil Global Tour clash with El Salvador, Douglas Costa, for the first time since the early stages of Dunga’s reign, is now looking like a first-team player for the five-time world champions.
With four more Brasil Global Tour dates until the end of the year, Douglas Costa’s greatest challenge in terms of winning back his place in Brazil’s first XI now appears only to be a physical challenge. Can he stay fit long enough to become a key player for Tite?
Douglas Costa and Brazil return to action on Tuesday when they host El Salvador at FedEx Field in Landover.