All eyes are mostly on his attack. Necessarily. Brazil have placed too many representatives among the greatest attacking talents in football history for it to be otherwise. This is still the case in 2022. When discussing the potential of the Seleçao to win their first world title in 20 years, it is often question of the quality of the Brazilian attackers, embodied by Neymar. His defense is less presented as his best argument. And yet…
Its solidity can be seen in the figures of its qualifying campaign. In 17 matches played, Brazil conceded only 5 small goals, finishing with the best defense in the South American tournament ahead of Argentina (8 goals) and achieving no less than 13 clean sheets. Since her loss against Belgium in the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup (1-2), she has never finished a match by conceding more than two goals. And this has only happened to him twice in the last four years, the last against Peru (2-4) on October 14, 2020.
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Talent in all key positions
If Brazil is so impermeable, it is already because they have talented defenders. He is particularly well armed in the axis with confirmed players in the biggest European clubs. The indestructible Thiago Silva remains one of the best in the world in his position with Chelsea, at the height of his 38 years. Eder Militão has taken on another dimension since joining Real Madrid. And Marquinhos, despite a small drop in speed in recent months, is nonetheless a safe bet for PSG. By adding the rise of Bremer (Juventus), Brazil really have something to see coming in central defense.
Elsewhere too. His side (Danilo and Dani Alves on the right, Alex Telles and Alex Sandro) on the left, also benefit from solid experience in the biggest European championships. Its two goalkeepers, Alisson and Ederson, are part of the world references and each have the advantage of being competitive in the kicking game. And to top it off, the Seleçao can also rely on leading midfielders with Casemiro and Fabinho, two players who have mastered the art of balancing a collective so well. The solidity of Brazil is indeed the set of individuals who form its defensive block, not just its hinge.
The sense of detail
But it’s not enough to tick high-sounding names on the paper to have a good defense. Having renowned defenders did not prevent Brazil from suffering an unforgettable humiliation against Germany in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup (1-7). Individual quality is essential, but Brazil also knows how to do the work upstream to place its remarkable players in the best conditions. Tite and his staff have thus focused on very advanced video work to study their opponents in general, and their offensive animations in particular.
The Seleçao has thus acquired analysts from several Brazilian clubs, such as Palmeiras or Corinthians, to maximize its knowledge of its opponents. It is no longer a question of neglecting the smallest detail. “We study our opponents a lot and we prepare for everything, we have to be very careful with these playersexplained Eder Militão, referring to the Serbian attacking duo formed by Dusan Vlahovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic, who will cross paths with Brazil on Thursday. In the World Cup, whoever misses the least ends up victorious.”
“Their strong point is unity”
Brazil has thus given itself every chance to develop its undeniable attacking talent by pressing on what may have been its weakness in the past. Beyond his talents in defense and the thorough study of his opponents, there is also the force of habit. Most of the players selected by Tite for this World Cup have been playing together in the national team for several years. Especially within his defensive block. Relying on well-honed automatisms is a major asset as the possibilities of working on them are more limited in selection than in club.
Tite’s training has this experience which gives him collective virtues, an optimized coordination of everyone’s movements to further solidify his block and make it ever more difficult to maneuver. If Brazil defend so well, it’s because their men defend together. A question of state of mind summed up by Cafu before the tournament. “The strong point is their unity, they know they don’t depend on a single player to win the World Cup, and that will help them“, explained the legendary side Auriverde. So, all eyes will surely be on an attack led by Neymar. But for this ambitious Brazil, the light could well come from behind.
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