Brazil have their swag­ger back

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SUNBIZ -

Sele­cao cruised to Rus­sia, book­ing their place with rounds to spare.

Wof a club side. His reap­point­ment in 2014 was a state­ment that noth­ing was pro­foundly wrong, that the 7-1 had just been one of those bad days and that all that was needed was Dunga’s com­bat­ive spirit and his end­less hom­i­lies on com­mit­ment and dis­ci­pline. Plenty of bad days fol­lowed. Af­ter six of the 18 rounds of qual­i­fi­ca­tion for Rus­sia, Brazil were sixth, off the pace and in real danger of miss­ing out on the World Cup for the first time ever. Brazil’s good for­tune was that an ex­tra, cen­te­nary ver­sion of the Copa Amer­ica was held in the USA in mid-2016. Brazil drew with Ecuador, lost to Peru and were knocked out at the group stage. Out went Dunga, in came Tite and things were im­me­di­ately dif­fer­ent – though with most of the same play­ers. Paulinho was re­called and a raw teenager by the name of Gabriel Je­sus was in­tro­duced at cen­tre for­ward. Other than that there were few changes in per­son­nel but huge changes in style and even big­ger changes in for­tune. Sud­denly the qual­i­fi­ca­tion cam­paign be­came a breeze, with 10 wins, two draws, 30 goals scored and three con­ceded. Brazil cruised to Rus­sia, book­ing their place with rounds to spare. Whereas Dunga was a per­pet­u­ally snarling fig­ure, ca­pa­ble of ar­gu­ing with the mir­ror if there was no one else handy, Tite brought har­mony and a modern idea of play. A cap­ti­vat­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tor with a cu­ri­ous mind, the new coach has lit­tle time for the mental iso­la­tion of many of his col­leagues. He has never worked in Europe – and wor­ries that he might not be able to achieve ex­cel­lence in a sec­ond lan­guage – but he has car­ried out an in-depth study of top-class Euro­pean foot­ball and has ap­plied the con­cepts to his teams. With Corinthi­ans of Sao Paulo, he won the Brazil­ian, South Amer­i­can and Club World ti­tles, beat­ing Chelsea in the 2012 fi­nal. That team were com­pact and dif­fi­cult to play through.

Af­ter a fur­ther pe­riod of study, he then pro­duced a 2015 Brazil­ian-ti­tle win­ning Corinthi­ans side who were com­pact in at­tack, ex­chang­ing passes and pa­tiently break­ing down the op­po­si­tion.

These same ideas, taken to the na­tional team, have given the in­di­vid­ual stars a plat­form to shine.

And with Je­sus and Ney­mar com­bin­ing, Philippe Coutinho at last find­ing his in­ter­na­tional feet, Paulinho ghost­ing into the area and Marcelo play­ing the best foot­ball of his Brazil ca­reer, they shone in the

in­sists five-time cham­pi­ons Brazil are dream­ing of win­ning the World Cup 2018 again as they ar­rived in Rus­sia. The Paris St Ger­main for­ward scored his 55th in­ter­na­tional goal to go level with Ro­mario and sit joint­third in Brazil’s all-time scor­ing...

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