Balanced Brazil reduces dependence on Neymar

by

June 13, 2018
Brazil's World Cup team

(AP):

Brazil is still shaking off the embarrassment of losing to Germany 7-1 in its home World Cup.

Since Tite took over as coach in 2016, the five-time World champions have become a winning machine again and were the first to qualify for Russia.

Neymar, who missed the humiliating match against Germany because of injury, has had to recover from a broken foot that kept him out for three months before the trip to Russia.

But there isn't such a reliance now on the world's most expensive player. In six games without Neymar, Brazil still won four times, including a friendly against Germany in Berlin in March.

"He will be missed by any team," Brazil defender Thiago Silva said, "but not having him sometimes helps us consolidate the style we want."

TOPPLAYERS

Indeed, the Brazilians head into the World Cup looking more balanced and with a range of top players available in every position. They were so dominant in South American qualifying that they would still have secured first place without the points secured in six games under Dunga before the coach was fired.

Brazil should be even more dangerous in Russia if Neymar, who sustained the injury playing for Paris Saint-Germain in February, is fully fit.

"Skill wise, he is already the best player in the world," Brazil great Pele said. "This is his time to shine."

In less than two years on the job, Adenor Leonardo Bachi better known as Tite has turned Brazil from a flop into a title favorite.

A former pupil of defence-minded Luiz Felipe Scolari the 2002 World Cup-winning coach, who also presided over the Germany match Tite has grown into a fan of Carlo Ancelotti and his well-balanced teams. The two have exchanged ideas since 2014.

Detractors say Tite's teams are low scoring and that he charms players and journalists into sparing him from criticism. But his title streak at Corinthians from 2011-15 underscores his credentials for the national team job.

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