A defeat by the national team in the Cup always raises questions. Especially if it is historic, as it was yesterday against Cameroon. For the first time Brazil lost to an African team in a World Cup.
The demands are many, the criticisms.
But this time there are concrete reasons to hope for a turnaround, here in Qatar. The answers are in the football that Tite’s team has already shown.
By the way, there are five reasons to believe in a turnaround.
The first: the potential of the team. Against Serbia, Switzerland and even Cameroon, Brazil dominated all three games. Pressured opponents on defense. Gave no less than 52 shots on goal in group stage G.
No one has created so much.
He averages 16 shots per game.
In real chances, against the opposing goalkeeper, there were eight.
While only suffered two true opportunities.
And the games without their main player, the most creative, talented, Neymar.
The second: precisely Neymar. The player is in the final process of recovering his right ankle. He and the medical department, as well as Tite, are fully aware that there is no more room for mistakes at the Worlds.
And that Brazil needs his presence on the field on Monday against South Korea. Because of what he means as a player and as a technical leader, talented from this team here in Doha.
If it was the Cup it was a long championship, the attacking midfielder would probably be rested, he would have more recovery time. But it is not. Therefore, the absolute priority for him to be on the field already in the knockout phase of the World Cup.
Despite being South Korea, a weaker opponent than Uruguay and Portugal, which were two other opportunities for confrontation, Tite knows that the game is worth survival in Qatar.
Often in a sport with high competition and confrontations like football, the lineup depends on the player himself. The doctor, magnetic resonances, imaging tests are in the background. Facing his own human pains and limitations, the athlete accepts the challenge.
And Neymar wants to play, anyway, against the South Koreans. He will be tested today, tomorrow and, if need be, Monday morning. Doctor Rodrigo Lasmar knows the national team’s need for its main player. And he’s doing everything that works in the octaves.
With the number ten shirt, the national team is different.
The third: Rodrigo, Vinicius Junior, Richarlison, Antony and Gabriel Martinelli
The high performance of these players in the face of strong defensive systems was remarkable. Even in the face of the few goals that Brazil managed to score.
Individually, the quartet showed that, despite being rookies, debuting in a World Cup, they managed to be responsible for unexpected moves, of extreme technique that ended up finding ways to finish, real chances of goals.
Tite is very happy with the performance of these players. And they have encouraged them to use muscle explosion, skill, improvisation.
In the participation of each of them in the World Cup, the individual performance not only impressed, but managed to make the rival defensive system be dismantled several times.
The sin was in the final shots, in the definition, in the wasted goals.
Brazil did the hardest thing, it created.
If you have more concentration on the final touch, the pressure that the team is experiencing today, due to the defeat against Cameroon, will decrease.
The fourth. Physical strength. Brazil has adapted physically to the heat it is experiencing here in Qatar. The heat, an average of 29 degrees, is only controlled in the stadiums. Even with the use of air conditioning using state-of-the-art turbines, the temperature in games is 26 degrees.
Which is still a high temperature for Europeans and even South Koreans. The adaptation of Brazilians, even those who work in the Old Continent, has been excellent. Even in training, athletes show a high level of performance. Especially because this Cup is being played at the end of the year, that is, in the middle of the European season and not at the end, as they usually are. Exactly because of the desert climate of Qatar.
The fifth and final reason: the opponents’ technical level.
South Korea in the round of 16 and Japan or Croatia in the quarterfinals. Those are encouraging reasons, yes. No disdain. Even if Tite’s speech is cautious and tries to belittle the friendly on June 2, six months ago, Brazil played against the team that is here in Qatar.
The game was in Seoul.
The result, 5-1 for Tite’s team and wasting the chance of a historic rout. The technical gap between the two selected is huge.
So much so that the Brazilian Technical Commission studied the Uruguayan and Portuguese teams much more diligently, believing that they would be the two that would take the places in group H.
There is no comparison. Brazil is superior among all sectors in Monday’s match.
As much as the psychological pressure is against Tite’s team, all it takes is for the squad to be balanced and put into practice what they’ve been training for, and victory will come.
As everything that surrounds the Brazilian team is passionate, winning the round of 16, the quarterfinals will come.
And the meeting with Japanese or Croatians. Both teams show serious problems. Bigger than Tite’s team. The oriental, in addition to being much less talented, resents the recomposition, that is, the return of his team to the counterattacks. The defense is flawed.
But the delivery of their players is incredible. That’s how they managed to beat Germany in their debut and Spain’s reserves in the last match of group E. If Brazil matches their dedication and is more objective in their attacks, logic also points to a victory.
Croatia has a different problem. The 2018 world runner-up generation is aging. Players are no longer able to dominate the rhythm of the game, exchanging passes, acting in a block, as they did in Russia.
The team is more spaced. The cerebral Modric, aged 37, and with the dry climate, the strong heat that is here in Qatar does not give the fast rhythm in the counterattacks. The team has clear flaws on the sides.
They did not draw with Morocco and escaped a rout to Belgium, with Lukaku having the courage to miss four goals made for nothing. Only limited Canada won.
They are opponents that Brazil can defeat and win and recover the mental strength, confidence, faith of the fans.
And go back to being one of the big favorites for this Cup.
Gain all the strength you need and wait, most likely, for Argentina in the semifinals.
Then it would be another story.
The current moment of the Selection is not one of despair.
Quite the opposite.
Brazil has all the elements to recover.
It just depends on Brazil itself…