Brazil struggling to move on from Renato Augusto and Paulinho
‘Arthur, Coutinho, Firmino, Paqueta, Richarlison, they have never played together before. Of course it will take time,’ so said Brazil boss Tite in the wake of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Panama. He is correct too- even if Brazil really ought to be beating Panama no matter the stage of transition. Support your favourite Brazilian team with Betway and get some exclusive offers.
The Brazil team at last summer’s World Cup was a team at the end of its cycle. Thiago Silva and Miranda are 34, Dani Alves 35, Marcelo 30 and out of favour at Real Madrid, Willian is 31 and Paulinho and Renato Augusto are winding down their careers in China. An overhaul of the Brazil side is underway in every area of the team.
In attack, there are few issues. Neymar is only 27, Gabriel Jesus is 21, Firmino and Coutinho ought to be available right through to the 2022 World Cup. Behind them, there is a rich seam of talent in Lucas Paqueta, Vinicius Junior and Richarlison. The attack will take care of itself. In defence, Dani Alves will likely be replaced by Eder Militao, Marcelo by Alex Sandro and Marquinhos is more than ready to step into the centre of defence.
Brazil’s real issue is the midfield where they are struggling to move on from two of their least celebrated players- Paulinho and Renato Augusto. Both thrived under Tite at Corinthians and instantly understood how to oil the engine of a Tite team. This was a big part of the reason why Tite hit the ground running as Brazil boss- he instantly had two central midfielders that required no induction into Tite’s style.
Paulinho was also a valuable support service to the attack, which is built largely around the dribbling skills of Neymar and Philippe Coutinho. Gabriel Jesus’ role isn’t predominantly a goalscoring one, his role is to push defenders back towards their own goal and away from Neymar- like an NFL style blocker.
Paulinho’s off the ball runs into the area where valuable as a result. Richarlison will likely take up Paulinho’s goalscoring threat, albeit from the right hand side of attack. But with Arthur at the hub of the Brazil midfield now, some adaption is required. The Barcelona man’s presence entirely changes the identity of this Brazil side and it is perhaps no surprise that it is taking time.
Yet patience and Brazilian football are not easy bedfellows. Brazil are much like Real Madrid, there is no nuanced analysis when they don’t win. Victory is demanded and failure to do so is a blanket failure, no ifs, no buts. Tite’s form in qualifying and a total lack of alternatives in the Brazilian coaching faculty bought him more time as Brazil boss after last summer’s World Cup exit to Belgium.
This June, they host the Copa America having not won the tournament for 12 years. It has been 17 years since they won the World Cup. Victory is demanded, or else Tite could pay with his job. Brazil are undergoing a difficult transition, which will take time. But the CBF and the public at large will not give the coach the gift of time and patience.