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With a year left for the World Cup, coach Tite and his Brazilian national team seem to have finally broken the paralysis that has plagued them since the sumptuous defeat to Germany in the semi-final of 2014. Although that kind of humiliation will never be forgotten and the scars will hardly be healed, the team must move on — and it finally looks like the five-time world champion team is ready to.
Brazil are finally poised to head to World Cup 2018 as the competitive team it has been in years past. But it has been an uphill battle for Brazil to get to such a steady point, both on and off the field.
Brazilian football has been somewhat poisoned by the fraud of its leaders. The current president, Marco Polo Del Nero, doesn’t leave Brazil out of fear of being arrested by the FBI; former president Jose Maria Marin is under house arrest in New York, accused of being part of a gang that charged tips from companies that negotiated with the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF); and another former president, Ricardo Teixeira, hasn’t appeared in public for at least four years since accused by the Spanish police of heading “an international criminal organization.”
This poor management further contaminated the Seleção after the 2014 World Cup. Without any credentials, Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri, aka Dunga, was chosen to replace Luiz Felipe Scolari as Brazilian head coach after their loss to Germany. Without any support — or preparation — Dunga led to team to even more indigestible defeats, such as the elimination from the Copa America 2015 at the hands of Peru and the Copa America Centenario at the hands of Paraguay.
When Dunga was finally replaced by Tite in June 2016, the Brazilian National Team was in 5th place in World Cup qualifying and were narrowly running the risk of not reaching Russia at all. It would be the first time that Brazil would not make a World Cup; they are the only country in the world to have participated every year.
But with four wins in four games, the former Corinthians multi-champion coach brought Brazil back up to 1st place. Just after the threat of elimination, Brazil ended up the first country to secure a spot in World Cup 2018.
But how was the team’s transformation so quick and effective?
Contrary to what many people used to say, Brazil does have a great generation of players at its disposal. In addition to Neymar, one of the four best in the world today, they have the attack padded with Coutinho and William, stars of Liverpool and Chelsea respectively, as well as Douglas Costa of Bayern and Manchester City’s new revelation Gabriel Jesus. Jesus has slotted into Tite’s team just as easily as he did with Manchester City; he has five goals in six matches.
But Tite’s team is not just attack. In the back are Daniel Alves and Marcelo, two of the best in the world; defenders Marquinhos and Miranda have had good seasons, so much so that they put Thiago Silva and David Luiz on the bench.
But perhaps the greatest asset is Casemiro. Zidane’s darling at Real Madrid became an untouchable part of Tite’s squad.
With such a well-structured defence, Tite’s Brazil conceded only 2 goals in 8 matches; in comparison, under Dunga, there were 14 goals in 13 matches despite a pool of the same players.
The problem of the Brazilian team, as it turned out, was really a coach, who couldn’t get the most out of his team.
Tite both organized Brazil and managed to guard himself against the usual legal problems that usually involve the CBF leaders. And having managed to get the team out of a sticky qualifying situation, he seems to be able to manage the seven ghosts of the last elimination at home.
For that, he makes the Brazilian team play football — Brazilian football — once more. And he has everything needed to get to Russia as a favorite for the World Cup next year.