Copa America is the chance for Brazil to right the wrongs
Copa America is making its way back to Brazilian shores for the first time in 30 years this June. The last time Brazil hosted the competition was back in 1989 when they won their last title on home soil.
History is in fact on the Seleção’s side though when it comes to hosting the Copa America. This summer will be the fifth time Brazil has had the honour to host South America’s premier international football competition.
On the four occasions the competition has taken place at home, Brazil has won it every time.
Nothing but the best
Expectations then are high to say the least, and Tite has the torrid task of having to pick a squad fit for taking Copa America gold. Nothing but winning, and done in the style that the Brazilian public has become accustomed to, will suffice.
The last time the Seleção were successful at the Copa America was twelve years ago in Venezuela. That edition of the tournament was in fact the last time Brazil won a major honour.
It’s not necessarily even the lack of trophies that keeps Brazilians awake at night. With the wealth of talent and the stature as the world’s premier footballing nation, expectations are of course at their highest. Winning is paramount, but so is pride.
A lacklustre World Cup in Russia last summer saw Brazil knocked out at the quarter final stage to a Belgium side lacking in major tournament experience. But it was the previous edition that no Seleção supporter will ever forget, particularly the humiliation dealt to them in their own country with the world’s eyes watching.
Losing on home soil 7-1 will forever be etched into the Brazilian football fans’ collective memory, possibly even paramount to losing a World Cup final to rivals Uruguay back in 1950 at the Maracanã.
Preparations in motion
Since the World Cup Brazil have played a total of eight games across their global tour, including a 1-0 victory over arch rivals Argentina in Saudi Arabia last October.
Tite, a survivor of last year’s World Cup campaign, has so far trialed over 30 players, some of whom, but not all, have also endured since the World Cup.
Two notable omissions have been Real Madrid’s Marcelo, who captained the side during the World Cup, as well as managerial favourite and defensive midfield anchor Paulinho, who has also failed to earn a call up.
Tite appears to be favouring players who play abroad, with a dearth of inclusions from Brazil’s own Série A. While it doesn’t necessarily represent a sea change, with many of Brazil’s most modern squads for recent major tournaments including only a handful of domestic based players, it does demonstrate Tite’s own intent.
Of those thirty something players, only six of them are based domestically at Brazilian clubs, while two of those domestic inclusions are backup goalkeepers. Tite certainly isn’t looking for a revolution when it comes to selecting his squad.
While his selection isn’t particularly groundbreaking, it does make sense with Brazil’s most experienced and prolific talents based abroad.
Symptomatic of the times
Brazil’s youngest and most promising talents have been leaving their home country for foreign shores for some time now, but the outflux of talent is unprecedented and happening at an ever earlier rate.
One name who has long been on the lips of football fans in Brazil is that of Flamengo fledging Vinicius Junior. Vinicius was snapped up by Real Madrid as a 16 year old and made the €45 million move when he turned 18. When given the chance at the Bernabéu in his maiden season this year he’s impressed, even if he is still raw talent.
Then there is 21 year old attacking midfielder Lucas Paquetá also most recently a contemporary and colleague of Vinicius Jr. before a January move to AC Milan. Even Richarlison who has made his debut for the national team since the World Cup departed Brazil for the Premier League just after his 20th birthday.
Time to set it right
The attack is just one area of the pitch where Tite will have to make some difficult decisions, with a wealth of eager talent at his disposal. Some of the players he has been trying out may be based with some of the biggest teams in Europe, but they have yet to earn solid experience on international level and to gel as a team.
Tite’s side have two enormous tasks ahead of them. They have to make amends for the humiliation dealt out to them in the last competitive game Brazil held on home soil back in the World Cup 2014. On top of that they have to bring home Brazil’s first major trophy in 12 years.
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