Why Vini Jr. will be reserve in the last game of the selection before the Cup

Idol at Real Madrid, scorer of the Champions League title and most popular Brazilian goal of last season. There are many ways to describe Vini Jr. So, what explains him being a reserve for the selection in the last friendly preparation before the World Cup?

In recent days, during the period in France for the duels against Ghana and Tunisia, two words from Tite help to understand the situation. One of them is “balance”. Another is “articulation”. It was in search of these elements that the coach chose Fred to start playing against the Tunisians, in the last test before the World Cup debut, against Serbia, on 24 November. Today, the ball rolls at 15:30 (Brasília time), at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris.

“[O time] gains greater midfield articulation. Instead of three trebles, it has two. And he has two articulators, Paquetá and Neymar, with a second midfielder that transits inside the opponent’s field and a full-back from a more passer origin than Militão “, he explained.

In other words, the design with Vini Jr delivers a more intense selection by the wings, with a more direct game. In the 3-0 victory against Ghana, Tite started the national team with only Casemiro as a defensive midfielder. Paquetá and Neymar were the midfielders, Vini Jr. and Raphinha were in the wings and Richarlison, in the attack. The team was in very high rotation in the first half. The scheme was approved and will be one of two variations to be used in the Cup.

Time to engage

As much as he has become a protagonist at Real Madrid, Vinicius is still in a process of consolidation in the Brazilian team. The history is recent, he has only one goal in 15 games in all – he is 22 years old.

Unlike Raphinha, who soon embraced the spot on the right wing of the selection, Vini Jr took a while to convince Tite that he should be cast more often. He was first called up in September 2019, but took a year and a half hiatus until he received a new opportunity on the field. And with homeopathic doses. At Copa America 2021, Vinicius was almost on a trip. No game as a starter: he came on four times, two with about five minutes remaining.

At first, Tite’s coaching staff did not see Vinicius as a ready player. There was uncertainty about the effectiveness of defensive recomposition and reticence about the player’s finishing ability. Behind the scenes, the player’s staff also viewed the relationship with Tite with suspicion, due to the way Vini was cast in some games. An emblematic episode was against Chile, in Santiago, when he was given the task of marking the rises of Isla, did not surrender offensively and was sacked at half-time.

The consolidation match was against Argentina in San Juan. An adverse context, away from home, in a small stadium and with a Brazilian team without Neymar. Vini showed personality. Brazil tied with no goals, but he gave a scooter / cart in Molina.

This all made Tite build a team without Vini having a captive chair. When the player took off for good at Real Madrid and brought that confidence to the selection, the already tested variations came from the final stretch of the Qualifiers.

Vini Jr during Brazil 3 x 0 Ghana - Lucas Figueiredo/CBF - Lucas Figueiredo/CBF

Vini Jr during Brazil 3 x 0 Ghana

Image: Lucas Figueiredo/CBF

In front of Tunisia, Tite resorts to a formation that worked before the “burst” of Vini Jr in the selection. And she has Fred — whom the coach called a “hybrid player” for his versatility — as a pair with Casemiro in the middle. But she can also play as an articulator, a little further along. In this system, Paquetá migrates to the left side, with Raphinha on the right. Neymar and Richarlison will be the attackers in the middle – shirt 10 comes to get the game and is free to set up.

According to the coach, the tactical adjustment in which a winger is replaced by a midfielder can also be done by the other side, with the right winger (Raphinha, in this case) leaving the team. However, Tite has not used this variation yet, because the right side already has a side that supports less (Danilo, in this case), and would be “crooked” without a winger.

But since Vini took off, the Real Madrid forward has spent 458 minutes in action for the national team, which represents 67% of the period in which Tite’s team was on the field.

That is, the coach did not ignore the success in European football. Vini was not substituted during these games, he scored a goal against Chile, at Maracanã, but lost the duel against Bolivia by suspension. He also entered the second half against South Korea because he appeared later than the others, due to the Champions League final.

Having Vini as one of the symbols of the “fast legs” generation of this reformulated team, Tite even shouted in one of the training sessions, at the beginning of the year, before the match against Paraguay:

Go up! Reel, pen, f…if!”

In recent days, as soon as he drew for the first time in France the team that will face Tunisia today, Tite warned the team that the drawing would be the same as the duel against the Koreans.

Who is holder?

The reservation in this Friday’s friendly does not mean that Vini Jr. is out of the team for the Cup debut. Nor is it a guarantee, as Brazil doesn’t have a team stuck, from 1 to 11, to play the entire Cup. Tite Strategy, which has at least three most used formations:

  • Alisson, Danilo, Marquinhos, Thiago and Alex Sandro; Casemiro, Fred, Raphinha and Vini Jr; Paquetá and Neymar
  • Alisson, Danilo, Marquinhos, Thiago and Alex Sandro; Casemiro; Paquetá and Neymar; Raphinha, Vini Jr and Richarlison
  • Alisson, Danilo, Marquinhos, Thiago and Alex Sandro; Casemiro, Fred, Paquetá, Neymar and Raphinha; richarlison

Although the coach has left that he already knows which two game models will be used, he says that the names are not yet defined and will closely observe the athletes in their clubs in this final stretch of preparation for the World Cup.

At this point, Vini Jr. takes advantage of Fred. The Real Madrid winger is the absolute starter of the team and started the season at a level similar to that achieved in the last course, when he consolidated himself once and for all in Europe. In 2021/22, he scored 22 goals and provided 16 assists; in the current season, he already has five goals and three assists in nine matches for Real.

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