Qual­i­fier gives Brazil a chance at re­demp­tion

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

A RESUR­GENT Brazil re­turn to the scene of the most hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat in their his­tory to­day when they face Ar­gentina in a ti­tan­tic 2018 World Cup qual­i­fier.

Two years ago at Belo Hor­i­zonte’s Es­ta­dio Mineirao, Brazil were ripped apart 7-1 by Ger­many in the World Cup semi-fi­nals, a trau­matic maul­ing that sent the foot­ball-mad coun­try into a nose­dive of de­spair.

But fast-for­ward to 2016, and Brazil look to be a team firmly on the road to re­cov­ery as they pre­pare for the 107th meeting with Ar­gentina at the 61,800-seat venue.

A dis­as­trous Copa Amer­ica Cen­te­nario cam­paign – which saw Brazil elim­i­nated in the first round of the tour­na­ment for the first time since 1987 – led to the dis­missal of coach Dunga in June.

Dunga’s re­place­ment, Tite, the suc­cess­ful for­mer Corinthi­ans coach, has over­seen a re­nais­sance which has left ad­mir­ers talk­ing about a re­turn of the Sele­cao’s fabled jogo bonito (“beau­ti­ful game”).

A stylish 3-0 win at Ecuador in Septem­ber – the first in Brazil’s his­tory – was fol­lowed by a 2-1 win over Colom­bia be­fore a 5-0 drub­bing of Bo­livia.

A fur­ther win over Venezuela in Oc­to­ber – Brazil’s fourth-straight qual­i­fy­ing vic­tory – cat­a­pulted Tite’s side to the top of Brazil’s 10team round-robin stand­ings, with 21 points from 10 games.

“I don’t have the ad­jec­tives. I’m liv­ing the dream of any Brazil­ian coach,” Tite said after nam­ing his squad for this week’s clash with Ar­gentina. “I try not to think too much about the his­tory. I’m just fo­cused on the strat­egy.”

End­ing the de­pres­sion? Brazil are likely to face the most search­ing ex­am­i­na­tion of their reawak­en­ing against Ar­gentina, who will wel­come back Lionel Messi after the Barcelona su­per­star missed their last three games through in­jury.

Tostao, a vet­eran of Brazil’s mag­i­cal 1970 World Cup-winning side, won­dered whether a de­ci­sive win over Ar­gentina could fi­nally help the coun­try turn the page on the trau­mas of 2014.

“Would it not be a sym­bolic land­mark to end the de­pres­sion, the mourn­ing, even if it it not against Ger­many,” the 69-year-old mid­fielder wrote in an opin­ion piece.

Brazil’s re­dis­cov­ered joie de vivre has been best ex­em­pli­fied by the form of Ney­mar, daz­zling in the win over Bo­livia last month, while oth­ers such as Liver­pool’s Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino have also shined un­der Tite.

Manch­ester City-bound teenager Gabriel Je­sus has also im­pressed, scor­ing three goals in four games un­der Tite.

While Brazil’s for­tunes have been on an up­swing, Ar­gentina’s form has tailed off in re­cent matches.

With Messi miss­ing, Ar­gentina lost one and drew two of their last three games, a run of re­sults that saw them fall off the pace.

A ret­ro­spec­tive FIFA de­ci­sion to award Chile a 3-0 win over Bo­livia for the field­ing of an in­el­i­gi­ble player also hurt Ar­gentina, pro­mot­ing the Chileans to fifth spot and leav­ing the Al­bice­leste in sixth.

The re­turn of Messi to Ar­gentina’s ranks should calm the two-time world cham­pi­ons’ nerves. Messi ar­rived in Belo Hor­i­zonte this week after hitch­ing a lift in the pri­vate jet of Barcelona team­mate Ney­mar.

In other matches on Thurs­day, sec­ond-placed Uruguay meet third-placed Ecuador in Mon­te­v­ideo while fourth-placed Colom­bia take on fifth-placed Chile in Bar­ran­quilla. –

Photo: EPA

Al­ba­nian fans have to change their plans after ru­moured IS at­tacks forced a change in venue for the up­com­ing match against Is­rael.

Photo: EPA

Brazil­ian play­ers Fred (left) and Os­car (right) at kick-off after Ger­many scored dur­ing the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Belo Hor­i­zonte’s Es­ta­dio Mineirao.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.