Ney­mar at hyp­notic best as Brazil’s revo­lu­tion rolls on

Su­per­star is play­ing with a new free­dom within his re­built team, writes Matt Law at Wem­b­ley

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football -

When the op­po­si­tion’s mas­cot en­ter­tains the crowd with keepy-ups with the out­side of one of his over­sized boots, you know it is go­ing to be a dif­fi­cult night.

Gun­ner­saurus would have only been able to look on with envy from his home in an­other corner of North London, as ‘Ca­narinho’ showed off his skills. And, at times, Eng­land’s play­ers knew ex­actly how Arse­nal’s big green di­nosaur felt.

There was some­thing hyp­notic about watch­ing Brazil com­plete pass af­ter pass to the tune of the Samba beat com­ing from the yel­low corner of Wem­b­ley.

But be­fore the crowd fell into a trance, Ney­mar pro­duced a firsthalf mo­ment that was worth the ad­mis­sion fee alone – even though it did not re­sult in a goal.

As the ball reached him on the edge of the penalty area, the world’s most ex­pen­sive foot­baller chipped the ball over Eric Dier

You could only feel sorry for Jake Liver­more as the for­ward nut­megged him

with the out­side of his left boot into the path of Gabriel Je­sus. It did not par­tic­u­larly mat­ter that Je­sus was cor­rectly flagged off­side, Wem­b­ley had wit­nessed a unique piece of skill akin to a Phil Mick­el­son flop-shot in golf.

Ney­mar was the star at­trac­tion last night, as the high-pitched squeals ev­ery time he touched the ball un­der­lined. You could only feel sorry for Jake Liver­more, as Ney­mar nut­megged his way past the West Bromwich Al­bion mid­fielder and at­tacked Eng­land’s de­fence.

He had not been ready to carry the weight of a na­tion in 2014, but Ney­mar is warm­ing up to be one of the stars of the Rus­sia World Cup. Un­bur­dened of the cap­taincy, the 25-year-old played with a free­dom at Wem­b­ley and is clearly happy to have Je­sus and Philippe Coutinho around him. But this was not just the Ney­mar show, and nor will it be next sum­mer, as Brazil head coach Tite has built a team that is no longer re­liant on one man or a sin­gle piece of out­ra­geous skill.

There is power in the form of Je­sus and Paulinho, cun­ning from Coutinho and, shock hor­ror, sharp de­fend­ing from Mi­randa. Brazil also boast two of the bet­ter goalkeepers in the world in Alis­son and Manch­ester City’s Eder­son.

Brazil were bro­ken fol­low­ing the hu­mil­i­at­ing 7-1 de­feat by Ger­many in 2014, but Tite has pieced them back to­gether with largely the same play­ers who had failed so badly un­der Dunga. When he took over in June 2016, Brazil were lan­guish­ing sixth in South Amer­i­can World Cup qual­i­fy­ing. But they com­fort­ably booked their place in Rus­sia with 10 wins from 12 qual­i­fiers to top their group.

The goal­less draw with Eng­land meant that, in 17 internationals, Brazil have scored 38 goals and con­ceded just five. Chelsea fans may won­der why David Luiz is not part of the revo­lu­tion, but no­body in Brazil does. As if to il­lus­trate the dif­fer­ent re­build­ing jobs that have faced Tite and Gareth South­gate, Eng­land’s in­ex­pe­ri­enced start­ing line-up had scored only 12 in­ter­na­tional goals be­tween them ahead of kick-off. Brazil’s team started the game on 99. Make no mis­take, Brazil are head­ing to Rus­sia to win a sixth World Cup, while Eng­land will be happy to hang on to the coat-tails of the real con­tenders.

That is not to say that Eng­land were com­pletely out­classed by Brazil last night, as clear-cut chances were few and far be­tween thanks mainly to John Stones and man-of-the-match full debu­tant Joe Gomez.

Mar­cus Rash­ford caused the Brazil de­fence prob­lems with his pace and con­fi­dence to run at them, and sub­sti­tute Tammy Abra­ham was inches away from tap­ping in an un­likely late win­ner.

But there was al­ways a sense that Brazil were toy­ing with Eng­land, and their strength was fur­ther demon­strated when Tite was able to call for Wil­lian from the bench when Coutinho had tired. Manch­ester City mid­fielder Fer­nand­inho also got on for Re­nato Au­gusto and struck the foot of a post.

Brazil may not have taught this young Eng­land team a les­son in terms of the score­line, but there was enough in their per­for­mance to sup­port the fact they will ar­rive at next sum­mer’s World Cup as one of the favourites. And Ca­narinho has al­ready set the stan­dard for the other mas­cots.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.