Tite looking to reinvigorate Brazil ahead of Next Cycle
In September, Brazil kickstart the second part of the Tite era. After the disappointment of this summer’s World Cup quarter-final exit to Belgium, the Seleção begin the next cycle of the CONMEBOL calendar with 8 friendlies leading up to next summer’s Copa América on home soil. The Copa América is not taken quite as seriously as the Euros are in Europe, but Tite will want to make a statement and secure Brazil’s first official trophy since 2007.
The boss will consider his forward line of Coutinho, Neymar, Jesus, Douglas Costa, Willian and Roberto Firmino in fine fettle, particularly with the likes of Lucas Paqueta, Malcom and maybe even Vinicius Junior and Richarlison pushing for those places in the near future. Despite being touted as favorites by the bookies, Brazil are not quite as well stocked in midfield.
Casemiro remains one of the most important players in the team, Brazil paid a heavy price for his suspension in the defeat to Belgium, where Kevin de Bruyne got a much better run of the midfield against his clubmate Fernandinho. But the Seleção could really do with more of a ball playing presence in their engine room to add an element of control to proceedings.
The country has struggled to produce a truly top class number 8 for some years now. Tite does have some options here, both of whom have made moves to European superclubs this summer. Fred’s move to Manchester United will give him a far better idea of the ex-Shakhtar man’s potential. He is a more mobile presence in the middle of the park with a better array of passing than Paulinho.
Yet Arthur seems to be the real prince in waiting. Having moved from Grêmio to Barcelona this summer, the young midfielder is anointed as the long term replacement for Andres Iniesta. He has a similar sort of constantly probing, metronomic style, popping up in pockets of space all over the midfield to keep play moving.
If Arthur develops as expected, the fish has somewhat jumped into the barrel for Tite. But the step up from the Brasileirão to Barcelona is a big one and he will need to be playing regular football- a tall order at the Camp Nou, especially since Barca signed Arturo Vidal. If he is not playing for Barca, it is difficult to envisage him rescuing Brazil’s slightly too functional midfield.
Tite also has an MOT to perform on the defence. Thiago Silva is 34 next month, Moranda is 33 and Dani Alves is 34 and injured. Marquinhos is a simple and immediate remedy to sprinkle a little more youth into the centre of defence, but right-back remains an issue. Danilo and Fágner are some way short of Alves’ quality and rangy style and there aren’t exactly a collection of young gems waiting in the wings to challenge them.
Tite has an embarrassment of riches at left-back, with Marcelo, Filipe Luis and Alex Sandro. At right-back, the cupboard is a little barer and without Alves, Brazil will need to find a different way to make their right hand side work. It could be that Douglas Costa is seen as a solution on the right hand side now that he has returned to full fitness, though the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus potentially limits his playing time at club level too.
Tite has 8 friendlies to fine tune his squad and give the roster a lick of paint and a touch of polish. He took an experienced squad to Russia this summer and, for the next cycle of international fixtures, he will need to bring the average age down and address issues in some problem areas.