World Cup draws nearer for Brazil as Falcao ends Tite's perfect record

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The Colombian was on hand to show the Selecao they will not have things their own way after Willian opened the scoring in Barranquilla


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While the rest of the continent toils away in qualifying, thoughts in Brazil have already turned to the World Cup. The tournament itself is the focus of Tite's attention, as proved in an experimental line-up that took a 1-1 draw away to Colombia on Tuesday. 

Almost as a reminder that Russia 2018 will be a different prospect, the coach received a timely jolt of reality after his dream start in the job. Radamel Falcao's towering header robbed Brazil of their 100 percent record in his tenure - they had won the previous nine qualifiers disputed since Tite's arrival - and could not complain about a result that reflected each team's performance fairly. 

The game was tense and scrappy throughout, with Colombia and Brazil sharing possession in Barranquilla and both enjoying chances. Alisson in the Selecao net had more work to do than usual but looked comfortable enough, while aside from a few pieces of individual magic and his assist for Willian, Neymar was closely watched and struggled to make space. 

There was nevertheless plenty to be positive about for the visitors. Facing a team fighting intensely for their own World Cup place, in the stifling 37°C heat of Barranquilla and with stars like Juan Cuadrado, James Rodriguez and Falcao on the pitch, Brazil never looked like losing. 

Radamel Falcao García Colombia vs Brasil Eliminatoria Rusia 2018

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With 10 qualifiers under his belt now, Tite has finally tasted disappointment in a competitive game. Nine brilliant victories sent the Selecao steaming into Russia and expelled from memory the dark days of Dunga, but Brazil must also remember that victory is not a foregone conclusion, especially in a World Cup. 

That reality check, along with a valuable look at players like Roberto Firmino, Fernandinho, Thiago Silva and Filipe Luis, who started on Tuesday but are far from regular first-teamers - Firmino the exception, as it was the unfamiliar position of centre-forward that was new to him - who will make up part of his alternative XI once in Russia, was exactly what Tite wanted, and he will leave Colombia in decent spirirs in spite of the dropped points. 

Brazil's preparations for the World Cup have only just begun. Similar squad rotation will surely be witnessed in October, when the Selecao finish up their CONMEBOL campaign against Bolivia and Chile, and now there is only one goal within the ranks: to arrive in Russia in the best possible way, with all 23 players ready and willing to star at the world's biggest football competition.

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