Uruguay v Brazil thoughts
In my match preview, I outlined three questions that Tite had to answer ahead of the trip to Montevideo, where a formidable Uruguay side had not lost since 2010. The first asked how Brazil would cope with a little adversity. It’s been largely plain sailing under Tite, the Seleção had only conceded one goal during his tenure and had not trailed in any game.
With qualification looking certain, I speculated that Tite probably wouldn’t mind seeing how his team respond to going behind. After seven minutes, Marcelo tried an ill advised chest back to Alisson. Cavani’s instincts were keen and he nipped in, leaving Alisson with little option but to take him out. Cavani converted the spot kick and Brazil trailed after just 8 minutes. Now Tite would see what his team were made of.
They went from strength to strength. My second question revolved around the replacement for Gabriel Jesus. Roberto Firmino played as a false 9 in the 19 year old’s stead. Firmino himself had a quiet game, even if he played a pivotal part in the second goal. However, it was Neymar who took up the slack with an awe inspiring performance.
Uruguay struggled to live with his forays down the left hand side. The Barcelona man set the tone inside 5 minutes with a 60 yard dribble. He teed up Coutinho, whose cross across the 6 yard area was missed by Firmino. Under Dunga, Neymar often cut a frustrated figure. He tried to do too much too often. But Tite seems to have helped him strike a balance between being a match winner and a team player.
Paulinho’s fulminating 30 yard drive pulled Brazil level as the Seleção refused to buckle in the intense atmosphere. Another of my pre-match questions asked how to harness key players such as Renato Augusto and Paulinho, who have only just started their domestic season in China. Augusto was again a one man polyfilla, filling gaps left by the wandering Coutinho and Neymar. Paulinho scored a hat trick.
The performance was not perfect for Brazil. Firmino was quiet, Coutinho continued his indifferent form. The full-backs were guilty of some untidy moments. Dani Alves earned a booking that sees him miss Tuesday night’s qualifier against Paraguay. Marcelo was fortunate not to be sent off for a callous stamp and made a poor error for Uruguay’s goal.
But Miranda and Marquinhos developed their burgeoning partnership further with another solid display. There have been doubts raised over goalkeeper Alisson, yet he made notable saves. The closest Tite has come to earning public scorn during his reign emanated from the surprise inclusion of out of sorts Paulinho.
Paulinho and Renato Augusto were a staple of Tite’s World Club Cup winning Corinthians side and he has fallen back on the duo at international level. The decision to reprise Paulinho’s international career raised some eyebrows, but four goals in two games against Uruguay and Argentina is quelling those doubts.
Shortly after the final whistle, a tweet from a Brazil based journalist read, “If Tite had been appointed in 2014, maybe Brazil would still be a democracy.” Certainly the Seleção coach is earning that rarest of distinctions in this sprawling nation- an authority figure that people trust.