Brazil have their swagger back
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...