Brazil Clear Favourites at Russia 2018 | Kwesé

Brazil Clear Favourites at Russia 2018

Brazil Clear Favourites at Russia 2018

11:45 SAST | 28 Jun 2018

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Lovers of the beautiful game will be happy that Brazil have secured their spot in the final 16, courtesy of a 2-0 win over Serbia.

Round-of-16: Brazil vs Mexico (Kwesé FIFA Channel, 2 July at 15:45 CAT)   

Rewind to 8 July[AD1] , 2014: Germany have humiliated hosts Brazil 7-1 in the first semifinal of the FIFA World Cup. The nation is in mourning. How could things have gone so horribly wrong? Brazil needed a wake-up call. Their football had regressed from the glory days of the 50s and 60s, when they won three World Cup tournaments between 1958 and 1970.

Back then they were innovators of the game, adopting cutting-edge tactics and the latest in sports science to condition their players. They also pioneered the system of a back four. But then something happened. Football’s centre of gravity moved to the big-money leagues of England, Spain, Italy and Germany, and eventually their national teams began to reap the rewards. Europe adopted a compact style of play, a game based on keeping possession with short, sure passes to men close at hand. In 2014 Germany passed their way through Brazil to score seven goals.

The Brazil FA responded to the disaster by going into fight mode, re-employing the combative Dunga as coach. Although Dunga had captained the team to World Cup glory in 1994, he was not coaching material. A stint from 2006-2010 had not been particularly successful and now he was back. Things went from bad to worse. By 2016 Brazil were lying sixth in World Cup qualification and in danger of losing their record as the only team to play at all World Cups. Then they were dumped out of the Copa America in the group stages and Dunga was finally fired. Enter Adenor Leonardo Bacchi, better known as Tite.

This is the man the Brazilian FA should have appointed in 2014, but finally did so in 2016. Tite turned Brazil’s qualification campaign around, winning ten games and drawing two. What was he doing differently?

Although Tite is known for his exploits coaching Brazilian clubs (notably Internacional and Corinthians in recent years) he adopted European tactics. His teams played compact, possession football. In 2011-2012 his rather defence-oriented Corinthians won the Brazilian and South American titles and beat Chelsea in the Club World Cup final. But in 2015 he showed that his system could also produce a surfeit of goals, with Corinthians winning the Brazil league playing attractive football.

Tite (57) is a wise owl who knows how to get the best from his stars and what tactics to adopt. He is a good communicator who displays humility, “I have learnt how to learn.” Being the Brazil football coach is probably more stressful than being country’s president, as Tite acknowledged: “I had a lot of sleepless nights when I became manager. I asked myself how I could harmonize this team, how I could turn a group of athletes into a unit, all with so little time.”

In the final group match Brazil looked very much like a harmonious team and not just a group of stars. Neymar didn’t try to do too much by himself, they transitioned well from defence to attack and they handled Serbia’s threats calmly and efficiently. This is a well-balanced side that are now firm favourites to win a record-extending sixth World Cup title.

Germany are out, Italy aren’t there, Argentina rely too much on Messi, Spain are looking old and Belgium aren’t quite the finished product. While England are too young. This tournament is Brazil’s to lose. Can they string four good games together and restore pride to a football-mad nation? Find out on Kwesé Sports.

Round-of-16: Brazil vs Mexico (Kwesé FIFA Channel, 2 July at 15:45 CAT)   
Round-of-16: Spain vs Russia (KFS, 1 July at 15:45 CAT)
Round-of-16: Sweden vs Switzerland (3 July at 15:45 CAT)

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