In June, throughout a pleasant in opposition to Brazil, South Korea coach Paulo Bento wished to see how far out he might push the boat. His aspect have been among the many prime sides in Asia, reasoned Bento, and so have been usually on the assault. May they take that method with one of many giants of the world sport?
The reply was an emphatic “no.” Brazil breezed to a 5-1 win. It’s honest to say that Bento might be doing one thing totally different in Monday’s round-of-16 match on the World Cup.
South Korea must assault in spurts, spending most of their time protecting up and defending themselves — which presents Brazil with an issue they confronted all through the group part. In most of Brazil’s warmup matches, the sport had already been determined by half-time. However within the World Cup, in opposition to extra organised, higher motivated opponents, they’ve but to attain a single objective within the first half. Can Brazil coach Tite discover a mix to get his aspect off to a faster begin?
He might be helped, in fact, if Neymar is match and able to return from his ankle harm. The notion that Brazil may be higher off with out him belongs to fantasy land. And having Neymar again within the group may also assist a structural concern that has been brooding for some time. Throughout final 12 months’s Copa America, the most effective side of the Brazil assault was the partnership between Neymar and Lucas Paqueta. Working shut collectively, they mixed effectively, with the passing of Paqueta opening up area for Neymar to run via his repertoire.
After which within the months following the Copa, Brazil’s new era of wingers emerged. Amid a transfer to Barcelona, Raphinha on the best took to worldwide soccer with astounding ease. On the left Vinicius Junior discovered it tougher to indicate his stuff, however he had develop into a world star with Actual Madrid, and his time would absolutely come. Certainly, his World Cup group stage performances in opposition to Serbia and Switzerland have been his greatest video games for his nation.
Would the group, then, have two wingers, Neymar as a false No. 9 and Lucas Paqueta as an attacking midfielder? It was an choice — however one which misplaced energy as a consequence of that June match in opposition to South Korea and subsequent one in opposition to Japan, as a result of it was then that Richarlison began to make himself unattainable to drop as a real penalty-area centre-forward.
Within the 5-1 win over South Korea, Richarlison began the sport and scored the primary objective, with Vinicius left on the bench. 4 days later the group started the sport in opposition to Japan with two wingers and with no standard centre-forward. A goalless draw appeared possible till Richarlison got here on for the final 20 minutes and received the penalty from which Neymar determined issues.
From that time it turned a consensus within the Brazil camp. There can be a centre-forward, and Richarlison was the main candidate. Was it potential to have an out-and-out striker, two wingers and the Neymar-Paqueta hyperlink up? Provided that Paqueta dropped to play instead of Fred as an all-around midfielder. It was dangerous; it meant that successfully the midfield trio comprised Casemiro, Lucas Paqueta and Neymar. Would there be sufficient defensive solidity?
In a pleasant in opposition to Ghana and the World Cup opener in opposition to Serbia it labored effectively. Brazil hardly had defensive issues, though it was not simple to convey Neymar and Paqueta shut sufficient collectively for his or her combos to fly.
However then Neymar bought injured and he missed the win over Switzerland. Brazil tried transferring Paqueta ahead into his slot, however with little religion within the concept. Paqueta is a participant of affiliation slightly than of individuality. Within the absence of Roberto Firmino — it all the time regarded like a threat to not embody him within the squad — Brazil then tried Rodrygo within the Neymar position. He didn’t do badly. However he lacked a accomplice, and this was clearly an issue within the 1-0 loss to Cameroon.
The 2 wingers work much better when there may be good play via the center of the sector, exchanges of passes that open up the defence and create area to ensure that them to be slipped behind the opposing defence.
And so, transferring into the decisive levels of the World Cup, the query stays; because the strain builds and the stakes get larger, are Brazil capable of area two wingers with a centre-forward and nonetheless assemble play via the center, sustaining defensive solidity whereas they do it?
It’s a query which South Korea will pose. And this time Tite can’t rely on Bento serving to him out with an over-ambitious dedication to assault. Brazil must field for his or her openings as they seek for the knockout blow.