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Conclusions from Brazil v Costa Rica

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Brazil defeated Costa Rica 2-0 in their second group game of the 2018 World Cup on Friday afternoon. The victory was achieved with stoppage time goals from Philippe Coutinho and Neymar. The Seleção face Serbia in their final group game on Wednesday evening. Tim Stillman was watching and provided three conclusions from the victory over Costa Rica.

Brazil needs to alleviate their left sided bias
The loss of Dani Alves before the tournament was a huge blow to Brazil. The Seleção have an equally accomplished left-back in Marcelo, but with Filipe Luis and Alex Sandro at his disposal, Tite has far more depth at left-back than he does right-back. Check out our website to find all world cup team line ups

Danilo and Fágner represent a significant drop in quality with Alves unavailable due to injury and neither even performs a workable impression of the sort of attacking thrust Alves gives this Brazil side. Danilo is a competent, but unremarkable back up.

With Danilo now injured, Fágner started his first game in nearly two months on Friday and it showed. The lack of an overlapping right-back put a lot more onus on Willian to call the tune from the right hand side and the Chelsea man struggled to attack alone.

Douglas Costa came on as a half-time substitute and looked to be a good solution to the issue. Predominantly left-footed, Costa cut in from the left and looked to create problems in the half spaces.

It looks like a good solution to Brazil’s heavy left sided bias, with Neymar, Coutinho and Marcelo bunching up on the left to create overloads. But now Douglas Costa is injured, Brazil are fast running out of options to avoid a heavily lopsided team.

Neymar Needs To Focus On His Team
In Brazil’s first game against Switzerland, Neymar was fouled on ten occasions, the most any player has been fouled at the tournament since 1998. But he fell into Switzerland’s trap, engaging in needless personal battles with Swiss players and slowing his team’s play down.

Neymar ended up hindering his team by getting drawn into petty pursuits, holding onto the ball for an age to draw another foul and make a point. Against Costa Rica, he was not fouled quite as often, but he was still handled stiffly by the opponents.

This time, Neymar did at least do a better job of ignoring the opposing defenders and on doing his job. But his frustration boiled over with the referee, whom he lectured furiously at half-time and he eventually picked up a needless yellow card for dissent.

It has shades of the 2015 Copa América when Neymar allowed Colombia’s rough treatment of him to wind him up, earning him a red card that curtailed his tournament. On this occasion, the referee stopped awarding him fouls- some of which ought to have been given (though not necessarily the penalty award, which was overruled after the referee consulted with the VAR).

Again, Neymar’s frustration with the referee proved to be counterproductive and consequently rubbed the referee up the wrong way. As Neymar’s match fitness slowly returns, so should his temperament, which has not generally been an issue under Tite.

Tite’s Substitutions Were Better Against Costa Rica
Against Switzerland, Tite made three like for like substitutions which, predictably, did little to change the course of a game Brazil were chasing. This time, Tite was a little more imaginative against a rugged Costa Rica side.

Putting Douglas Costa on the right for Willian proved to be an inspired change and Tite dispensed with his usual caution when he threw Roberto Firmino on for Paulinho, instead of Gabriel Jesus. Greater presence in the penalty area contributed to Coutinho’s last gasp toe poke to open the scoring.


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