On the road to victory at home in last year’s Copa America, Brazil pulled 0-0 and three goals were banned due to tight RVA solutions. This time Brazil scored in the qualifying tournament of the South American World Cup and the 1-0 victory in Sao Paulo kept the score at 100 percent after three laps. But there were times when they probably thought they were on the right track for another rough night.
In the opening minutes, the Brazilians were unlucky to score another goal – and worse, it was a move that showed how coach Tite reconsidered his team. Left back Renan Lodi had the freedom to attack the striker and Douglas Louis provided cover in midfield; Markinhos played a beautiful long diagonal ball and Lodi’s volleyball center was pushed by the goalkeeper behind Richarlison to bring him home. However, it was decided that Lodi would be offside with a small deviation and that Brazil would have to wait another hour to break the deadlock.
The loss of that goal was especially unfortunate for Richardlyson, who started the game with the midfielder. In the absence of an injured Neimar, Taite reminded Roberto Firmino of a lower position on the left, introduced Gabriel to Jesus on the right wing and played a more central role.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Brazil continued their mining streak in the CONMEBOL qualification. Fernando Bizerra Poole/Getty Images
There will probably be a big anticipatory debate in the middle. After Russia 2018, Tite has decided that Gabrielle Jesus is a broad striker, while Richard Richardlyson also prefers to play on the flanks and has no connection with the game of a real midfielder. And in Venezuela, which has almost exclusively to do with defense, there was no room to explode forward. Brazil passed the ball patiently, Lodi sent dangerous balls, but there was little sign of a goal. The match was probably played behind closed doors, as Sao Paulo’s notoriously impatient crowd would have made it difficult for the hosts.
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Tite upset his pack. There have been times that Firmino tipped to the right, causing the left intriguer Everton Ribeiro to pass by. At half time, Douglas Luis was sacrificed in the hope that Lucas Packet would add even more penetrating passes, Gabrielle Jesus and Richard Richardlyson changed roles for a while, and Brazil was about to present Pedro, a real penalty-shootout specialist, for his international debut when a goal was finally scored.
Most of Brazil’s best attacks took place on the left side, but they offered an excellent fast triangle on the right side. Everton found a spot for a low cross and the ball fell off the defender in front of Firmino to make a clever high pass that looked deceptively easy from up close.
It will not be remembered for long, but it means that Brazil has the maximum number of points of their first three games and is at the top of the ranking. Despite the fact that they were at home and so far have only played against the last three teams, it has been much more interesting since Tuesday, when they arrived in Uruguay.
Against Venezuela, Brazil clearly missed an opportunity for Neimar to improvise from scratch. His absence will be felt in Montevideo, as will that of midfielder Casemiro, who describes Tite as the leader of the opposition and the man who balances the composition. It doesn’t matter that Casemiro has disappeared against Venezuela; perhaps the same cannot be said of Uruguay, whose morale will be boosted by their 3-0 victory over Colombia.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Uruguay showed flexibility by defeating Colombia. Getty Images
Obtained in the oppressive heat of Barranquilla, it is the result that should bring great joy to veteran Uruguayan coach Oscar Washington Tabares. This victory sums up the many virtues of his almost 15 years of rule.
The Colombian Carlos Queiros had a hard time fitting into his camp: With his first two right-wing defenders injured last month, he remembered Juan Cuadrado and gave him a new license. Keiros plays with three central midfielders for the fourth – usually one of them is Quadrado, who takes a step back and makes a breakthrough in defense, but without him the trio are too close. In Uruguay, they are easy to apply; few parties are doing better. Nahitan Nandez took the ball and fed Edinson Kavani, who returned safe and sound.
Queiros realized his mistake and withdrew the midfielder for half an hour, introducing winger Luis Diaz. Immediately afterwards, Colombia became more threatening and Uruguay was grateful for the return of central defender Jose Maria Gimenez, who had missed last month’s games. It was occupied by center-forward Duvan Zapata, but Uruguay held out until the break when Tabarez was reorganized.
With two strikers, Uruguay was too open. Kavani played with impeccable sacrifice on the right flank and saw the attacks on Colombia’s left flank erupt, then came Darwin Nunez, one of the many graduates of the beautiful U-20 project that Tabares introduced to play the same role on the other flank. With three players in midfield, Uruguay was better able to keep Colombian James Rodriguez in check.
The second goal came after Rodriguez lost the ball. Rodrigo Bentancourt broke through with Luis Suarez and was convicted of cheating on Jason Murillo – perhaps a little harsh. Suarez didn’t get the wrong penalty area.
After the goals of the veteran Uruguayan strikers, Núñez then unfurled the flag of the junior team by cracking the ball outside the penalty area for a 3-0 victory. Uruguay has come a long way to face a difficult opponent in difficult circumstances and has achieved the result of the Round with sacrifice, intelligence and flexibility. There is hardly a better way to organize a meeting with the Brazilian leaders on Tuesday.