Brazil Leading World Cup Warmup


- Grant Whittington

For Brazil, it has been a harrowing two decades since they last lifted a World Cup in Japan.

But on Monday in Tokyo, they put forward their capacity as candidates to reign victorious in Asia’s second World Cup warm up this year. While their 1-0 victory over Japan hadn’t been as solidifying as their 5-1 devastation of South Korea last Thursday, they nonetheless had a message to send to future opponents.

For Brazil, the threat had never been real after they ran circles around Paraguay last week, but they’ve still got a great deal to prove for ending their drought.

Armed And Dangerous

Notably, Tokyo had been the first time Tite had been able to count on a full side of attacking force. This is a very different scenario to recent months when someone had always been missing from the outfit – either due to injury or a lack of fitness.

Right from the very first minute, the message had been clear: Brazil was ready to put on an explosive performance.

After Vinicius Jr. and Neymar pulled of a technical exchange, the ball suddenly fell to Paqueta. But since it struck his weaker right foot, the ball ended up bouncing off the post in an attempt that would otherwise have been a magnificent goal.

But lucky for Coach Tite, his midfield power-duo Fred and Casemiro were had returned to top form for the game, and by doing simple but effective things, they held onto the ball and kept it moving in the right direction.

By the time it came to the last 20 minutes of the game, Tite took time to consider some variations. Ultimately, he ended up sending Eder Militao to right-back, switched Daniel Alves with Thiago Silva, and brought in Richarlison to man the front.  

When Risky Moves Pay Off  

By replacing Fred (Guedes), Brazil lost some midfield mobility, but gained enormously in terms of creative play. And lucky for Tite, this paid off big-time when Neymar linked up with Richarlison in the game’s make-or-break moment.

While Neymar’s shot was pushed out by the goalkeeper, Richarlison kept sniffing for the rebound, and was ultimately fouled in the box. Neymar, however, kept his cool and sent the ball home to win the game for Brazil in a nail-biting affair.

But Argentina, too, brought their best game during last Wednesday’s comfortable win over Italy. And they followed this up with a 5-0 thumping of Estonia in Pamplona.

For Peru, their biggest game yet is coming up when they’ll be playing either the UAE or Australia for a place in the World Cup.

The South American World Cup games certainly have been treating their coaches to clean sheets of late, and they’ll hopefully continue to keep up their stellar performance.

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