Has the seleção peaked too soon? Has it peaked?

Will Neymar be fully focused next summer? (Mowa Press)

Brazil topped their qualifying group after beating Chile 3-0 last Tuesday. Tite, the coach, has won an incredible ten out of twelve qualifying games since taking over just over one year ago. The seleção was the first team to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia and once again they top FIFA’s world rankings. But have they peaked too soon?

Brazil finished their World Cup qualifying campaign 10 points ahead of second placed Uruguay. They lost only one out of 18 qualifying matches, a defeat that came under Dunga, who had a disastrous time at the helm (for a second time). Since then, under Tite, Brazil won ten out of twelve qualifying matches. That might not sound great when teams like England went unbeaten during their qualifying campaigns, but getting results against the likes of Uruguay, in Montevideo, or Bolivia, at 3,6000 meters above sea level in La Paz, where teams need to recover using oxygen tanks, is a lot more challenging than the opponents that England have faced.

The seleção has been impressive, but has it peaked too soon? Is there a risk that such good form will make the players complacent going into next year’s event?

Remember the seleção with Robinho, Ronaldinho, Kaká, Adriano and co.? They thumped Argentina 4-1 in the 2005 Confederations Cup final and they seemed unbeatable – some of the best players in the world and rampant going into the World Cup in 2006, yet they ended up limping out against France in the quarter final.

One year before Brazil were humiliated by Germany in 2014, they beat reigning World Champions Spain, 3 – 0, to win the Confederations Cup. That team was never that good, but they peaked before the main event too. It is not enough to have the best team, or the best players. To win a World Cup, teams need to be completely focused. Good sides like Brazil cannot allow their players to become complacent. Surely, that is a risk when the team is in such good form. Will Tite let that happen to this group?

So far the answer appears to be no. Brazil qualified for the World Cup with several matches to spare, yet they haven’t taken their foot off the gas since then, reflected by the 3-0 win against Chile in the last round of matches. Even last week, Tite made only two changes to his starting line up and he resisted the temptation to try new players and new systems, telling the media that the current team needed to get better. Another thing that Tite has done is rotate the captaincy in order to share the responsibility – Marquinhos was the captain against Chile and Casemiro was the skipper against Bolivia. Tite, it seems, is aware of the pitfalls and is taking measures to keep players on their toes. Neymar, meanwhile, has said that Tite is the best coach he has ever played for. Genuine love-fest or will this all end in tears? What do you think?

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