Brazil head coach rebuilt teams and reinvented Neymaru’s new role, Copa America 2021


Three years have passed since the last big show of the Brazilian national team. Despite being knocked out by Belgium in the 2018 World Cup quarterfinals, Tite remained as head coach. He became the first in a long time who was not fired after failing at the World Cup (and only victory is considered good luck). Why did it happen?

Tite gained immense authority and credit of trust in his homeland even before working with the main team. Brazil looked organized with him, confidently solved problems and practically did not lose. The notorious match with the Belgians, although it was marked by pinpoint failures, as a whole became one of the decorations of the tournament thanks to the play of both teams.

While you are watching Euro, Neymar conquers another tournament. What do you remember about the start of the America's Cup?
While you are watching Euro, Neymar conquers another tournament. What do you remember about the start of the America’s Cup?

It is worth adding to this the lack of serious alternatives to the post of head coach of the national team and the upcoming home America’s Cup next year. In such a situation, it was logical not to break anything and give the coach a chance to prove his worth. There was another Copa ahead and a three-year cycle ahead of Qatar, so you could always get fired.

After the World Cup in Russia, Tite updated the national team, closed the gaps in defense and made a bet on Casemiro

The World Cup showed that the Brazilians have problems in defense and a lack of variety of tactical options. A striking example is the left flank, on which Marcelo ran far ahead, and Fernandinho did not always have time to close the zone. Tite took up the elimination of this gap after the departure, starting the update of the team.

The appearance in the composition of Casemiro instead of Fernandinho is one of the key moments in the current version of the Brazilian national team. The Real Madrid midfielder retained the high quality of the pass when building attacks, but at the same time defends more productively and intensively during the transition to defense. Almost the best in the world in neutralizing the opponent’s attacks, Casemiro, together with Neymar, became a system-forming player for the Brazilians.

The tactical solution to the problem also became interesting. Marcelo and Fagner on the flanks of the defense were replaced by Renan Lodi and Danilo. The latter played the role of a hidden defensive midfielder familiar from Manchester City, sinking into the center and forming the three midfielders. At this time, Lodi rose to the position of the left winger, giving Neymar the opportunity to move more freely along the entire front of the attack. The left flank was covered by one of the three centerhaws Douglas Louis – the representative of Aston Villa not only has a good pass and vision of the field, but also works well in defense.

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Another innovation was the transfer of Gabriel Jesus from the center of the attack to the right flank. There, thanks to speed, technique and the ability to burst into empty spaces, he revealed himself in a new way. At the moment, he is the second after Neymar in the number of effective actions – 18 goals and 13 assists. Although there are fewer goals for Jesus, the team now brings incomparably more benefits.

Three years after the World Cup, Tite changed almost half of the starting lineup: in addition to the listed Marcelo, Fagner and Fernandinho, Willian and Paulinho are no longer called up. The team update is aimed at the 2022 World Cup and is associated not only with the age of the players, but also with the desire to build a tactically more flexible and strong team.

If you missed, Neymar is “not the same” – he now plays top ten and runs the game at PSG and Brazil

Brazil is not neumar addicted, although it has a majority of goals and is close to Pele’s record. The results do not directly depend on which foot the main star got on and whether he entered the field at all. After the World Cup in Russia and before the June qualifiers, Neymar missed exactly half of the Brazilians’ games. They scored almost 80% of the points and won the 2019 America’s Cup.

At the same time, it would be pointless not to place the main bet on the strongest Brazilian footballer and one of the best in the world. Brazil does not only play for Neymar, but Tite is trying to create conditions for the maximum use of his talent.

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“We are making progress by giving him creative freedom. Not only in the national team, but also partly in the club. Neymar makes a huge collective contribution to the game, especially with ball losses and pressure. We give him a large area of ​​action so that he can fully reveal his talent, helping partners or deciding the outcome of the episode individually. If Neymar is too far from the gate, he will be ineffective. It is important to find harmony, ”explained Tite.

The transformation of Neymar, who was once only one of the MSN trio and helped to shine Messi, began long ago. Unai Emery also gave the Brazilian more freedom at PSG, albeit within the framework of the former position of the left wing. Since then, its slow transformation into the top ten began, which was finally designed by Thomas Tuchel. Under the German, the forward began to act in the so-called “Zone 14” – the area in front of the opponent’s penalty area, where most of the goals come from.

The idea is for Neymar to be positioned in this area without the ball, while the opponent tries to contain the attacks on the flanks, concentrating a large number of players on them. This creates that very freedom of action and a tactical trap for opponents if the center-backs try to intercept. He also often takes balls from midfielders with his back to the goal, after which he turns around and distributes the game by passing or by his own pass.

Thus, another problem was solved – it was easier to stop the Brazilian on the flank with blows to his legs, especially in relative safety from the goal. No one will act so clumsy in front of his penalty area, so Neymar can not only act more productively, but also move away from the image of a simulator who is always lying on the field.

Neymar has grown from a once-admired winger to the world and capable of striking individual feats into a more collective and useful player for the team.

America’s Cup is a laboratory for Tite to develop a powerful team to win the World Cup

Effective use of Neymar is not the only challenge for Tite at the America’s Cup – 2021. Thanks to the passing group stage, the state of the opponents and the margin of safety in the form of victory in the last tournament, the Brazilian coach received an excellent testing ground for experiments with an eye to the 2022 World Cup.

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“Our idea is to search for tactical alternatives with the help of different functions and positions of the players. You cannot break an existing system, this will lead to a loss of structure, a break in ties and deprive the players of confidence, ”Tite said after the first match with Venezuela.

In the three group stage matches for Brazil, 22 of the 24 announced players have already played, with 20 of them receiving at least 60 minutes of playing time. The coach constantly changes the roles and positions of the players. Gabigol auditioned for the role of both clean and drawn striker. Everton Ribeiro is a floating playmaker and winger. Gabi Jesus and Richarlison, in addition to the usual flanks, played with Neymar between the lines.

The basic principles of the Brazilian national team are not changing. Tite once described the team’s play as “fun, but not irresponsible.” His mission was to combine a healthy pragmatism with a Brazilian love of ball handling. The result is a tough positional style with a safe exit from defense and delivery of the ball forward in short passes. The coach has learned to change, to immediately react to emerging problems and grows with his team.

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Brazilian journalists called this America’s Cup Tite’s laboratory, in which he will try to bring out the most powerful and terrifying version of the Brazilian national team for rivals. What will come of this – it will be possible to assess not earlier than next year.

For this, the federation needs to find good opponents from Europe for friendly matches. Over the past three years, the Brazilians have played with only one European team, so an attempt to assess their championship prospects in Qatar against the background of the lack of worthy opponents in South America is not entirely representative.

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