Brazil beat Peru in the 2019 Copa America final in Rio de Janeiro last night. These are my thoughts from the game.
1/ We are no closer to knowing who will lead the team in Qatar 2022
Rumours had been doing the rounds before the game that Tite was not happy with a perceived lack of support from the CBF. His beef seems to be that he wanted more public support after getting Brazil into the final. Their beef seems to be that Brazil haven’t played especially well in doing so.
I’m not sure how true these rumours are, but as I pointed out last week, this Brazil team is not winning over the hearts of the fans with the way it is playing. Tite is a safe pair of hands and gets results, without producing the swashbuckling style that we hope for (I’d rather results over the Dunga fiasco at the last Copa!), but his team selections suggest that he isn’t planning for 2022. At this point in time, I’m not too confident about Brazil’s chances and it wouldn’t surprise me if he doesn’t stick around until then. The problem is that there are no obvious candidates to replace him.
2/ Brazil can rely on Gabriel Jesus
There were a number of question marks over Gabriel Jesus and his lack of goals during last year’s World Cup. He burst onto the scene at Palmeiras, and was equally impressive when starting out at Manchester City. But he couldn’t establish himself in City’s first XI last season and his confidence was hit by criticism of his form during Brazil’s World Cup Campaign.
This competition has changed that and credit must go to Tite for keeping faith in him and helping bring his confidence back, even when he wasn’t scoring. He has played most of this tournament on the right hand side of Brazil’s attack, which isn’t his natural position, but his strength, skill and finishing have been class – there are clear signs of improvement in his game, and the confidence is back too. His set up of the first goal last night was brilliant and that wasn’t the only bit of skill he produced last night. His finish for the second was class. And he has looked good in most of the games I have seen in this tournament.
3/ Everton still needs to prove himself
Everton was excellent against Peru in the group stages, but he struggled against the same opposition last night – he got shrugged off the ball on several occasions and found it hard to beat his man; he wasn’t the same sort of menace that he was in the first match against these opponents. He scored one goal and won the penalty that Richarlison converted, so on paper people will say he had a great game. The first goal was a very nice finish, it was put on a plate for him by Jesus, and there was no marker in sight. And he got lucky with the penalty – credit to him for trying the run, but he overran the ball and the keeper was about the pick up the ball when the Peruvian player stupidly bodychecked him.
I like Everton, but I need to see more from him until I am fully convinced that he can cut it at this level on a regular basis. A move to Europe would help – he is 23 now, the best player in Brazil, and in my opinion, it is time to take his game to another level by testing himself with the speed and intensity of European club football. (He doens’t want to go the same way as Luan, who was the best player in Brazil for several years, but seems to have missed the boat on a move to a top European side, and is now 26 years old, struggling for form and in and out of the Gremio side this year.)
I was flabbergasted to see that Everton was voted man of the match in the final. That decision seems to have been made by looking at the goals and assists column. And Gabriel Jesus, scored one and set up another, but was sent off the official pundits went for Everton. In my opinion though Jesus’s red was very harsh, and despite that, he was still more important for Brazil in this victory than Everton.
4/ Dani Alves can’t play in Qatar 2022. Or can he?
Dani Alves was voted as the man of the tournament, and rightly so in my opinion, and he was good again last night. He is such a good football player: great fitness, his touch on the money every time, he’s composed, has an excellent range of passing and he is a leader. What’s even more impressive is that he produced this kind of form at the age of 36, one year after suffering the serious knee injury. Not many players could come back from that aged 25, nevermind 35.
Dani Alves can, and will, I think, keep playing for a few more years. But I suspect that the World Cup in three years’ time will be beyond him. For all his quality, you can see that he has lost that burst of pace over the first five yards – against tricky, quick left wingers, especially those teams that enjoy a lot of the ball, he is likely to struggle (he didn’t really get the most thorough examination defensively in this tournament). Fagner is not the answer. The young lad Emerson, who Barcelona signed from Atletico Mineiro last year, offer the best hope for this position for Brazil in three years’ time.
5/ Messi can go f*ck himself
I can understand that Messi was frustrated about some of the refereeing decisions that didn’t go Argentina’s way in the match against Brazil. But deep down he really must be more hurt that he is unable to produce the same sort of form that he does week in week out for Barcelona, for his country. The fact is that he drew another blank against a big rival and this was another tournament in which he has not won a trophy for Argentina.
After the Brazil match he claimed that it was all a big conspiracy and that Brazil were being favoured by the referees. A bit unlike Messi, such sour grapes, I thought. But almost as if to prove a point and ram those sour grapes down Messi’s throat, several big decisions went against Brazil last night, proving that this was not the case.
1/ Peru’s penalty was extremely harsh (there was no way that Thiago Silva meant to handball that, or he could have got his hand out of the way); 2/ Gabriel Jesus’ red card was ridiculous – he jumped into a Peruvian player while trying to win a header; he had been on the receiving end of challenges far worse than that on several occasions, all of which went unpunished (his jump wasn’t retribution either – it was an innocuous attempt to win the ball); 3/ Peru’s players resorted to a combination of rugby and wrestling, most of which went unpunished. Finally, and belatedly, the main culprit Advinicula, got booked, and Brazil deservedly won a penalty after the lad made no effort to play the ball and bodychecked Everton in the box (which Richarlison calmly slotted home – what a leg!).
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