Brazil ex­per­i­ment­ing with a new ‘magic quar­tet’

The Daily Observer - - SPORTS - TALES AZZONI

SOCHI, Rus­sia — Brazil will be ex­per­i­ment­ing with a new ver­sion of the “magic quar­tet” in Rus­sia.

More than a decade af­ter the five­time world cham­pi­ons ar­rived for the World Cup in Ger­many with its pro­lific four­some of Ronald­inho, Kaka, Ron­aldo and Adri­ano, Brazil is set to use a “Fab Four” of Ney­mar, Wil­lian, Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Je­sus to try to win its first ti­tle since 2002.

It will be the first time Brazil brings a prom­i­nent at­tack­ing four­some like the one that at­tracted all the head­lines 12 years ago.

Brazil coach Tite still hasn’t an­nounced his start­ing lineup for the opener against Switzer­land in Ros­tov-on-Don on Sun­day, but all signs show that he will stick to the quar­tet that helped the team ease past Aus­tria in its final warm-up match last week.

It was the first time the four play­ers started together un­der Tite, and the lineup earned noth­ing but praise af­ter the con­vinc­ing 3-0 win.

“This for­ma­tion is a very strong one,” Tite said. “It gives us a lot of cre­ativ­ity and ag­gres­sive­ness.”

Tite had said the per­for­mance against Aus­tria would likely de­ter­mine whether he would keep the four­some for the World Cup opener. Ney­mar, Gabriel Je­sus and Coutinho each scored for Brazil in Vi­enna.

Tite used the Fab Four for­ma­tion in parts of the team’s prac­tice ses­sion on Tues­day.

The quar­tet is con­sid­ered Brazil’s ideal lineup, but it hadn’t played much together un­til now for var­i­ous rea­sons, in­clud­ing Ney­mar’s ab­sence since Fe­bru­ary be­cause of a foot in­jury. The game against Aus­tria marked his first start since re­cov­er­ing from the in­jury. He had come off the bench in the sec­ond half of the team’s 2-0 win over Croatia in Liver­pool.

The four­some had been together only three other times, and not for many min­utes. Dou­glas Costa had played in Ney­mar’s po­si­tion most of the time, and Re­nato Au­gusto had been Tite’s pre­ferred op­tion to com­pose the mid­field in­stead of Wil­lian.

The coach tested the quar­tet for­ma­tion in the friendly against Rus­sia in March, but with Costa up front in­stead of the in­jured Ney­mar. Brazil won that match, also 3-0.

The con­cept of the Brazil­ian magic quar­tet first gained promi­nence at the 2005 Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup, which Brazil won. It clinched the ti­tle with a 4-1 win over Ar­gentina in the final, when Adri­ano scored twice and Kaka and Ronald­inho added a goal each. Then-coach Car­los Al­berto Par­reira used Robinho in the at­tack in­stead of Ron­aldo, who didn’t play be­cause of per­sonal rea­sons.

Ron­aldo was fully avail­able by the time the World Cup ar­rived, and Brazil was heav­ily favoured to win the ti­tle in Ger­many with the quar­tet back together. But af­ter cruis­ing past the group stage and eas­ily elim­i­nat­ing Ghana in the round of 16, Brazil’s much-hyped four­some lost to France 1-0 in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

BUDA MEN­DES/GETTY IMAGES

Brazil will ex­per­i­ment with a new “magic quar­tet” at the World Cup which in­cludes Ney­mar, pic­tured above, Wil­lian, Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Je­sus.

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