Can Neymar can lead Brazil to World Cup glory? Only if he does what Tite wants – predicted line-ups and stats

BRAZIL boast the most impressive history of a team in the World Cup.

The Brazilians are the only team with five titles, and the only international side that never failed to qualify for the tournament.

Even when they’re not living their best days, they must be considered one of the favourite teams to lift the trophy. 

The team of Tite certainly has a lot of potential.

Neymar was the key player of a generation, but Vinicius Jr. is simply the man who scored the only goal of the last Champions League final.

Neymar is always surrounded by controversies, especially in his homeland.

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After the rising star of Brazil helped Real Madrid on their quest to win their 14th Champions League title, some renowned journalists in Brazil considered that the big name of Brazil in the 2022 World Cup is Vinicius Jr and not Neymar.

The manager of Brazil, however, doesn’t have to make a choice and will most likely use both players are regulars.

But the boys from Brazil will have to overcome some challenges to lift their sixth World Cup trophy.

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Predicted Starting XI

If we consider the last months of the Brazilian team, then this would be the expected starting XI, featuring big names like Thiago Silva, Alisson, Casemiro, the rising stars Vinicius Jr. and Raphinha, and Neymar. 

However, the last friendlies against Tunisia and Ghana showed that Tite has different variations in his mind.

Tite prefers a 4-3-3 formation with Neymar in the middle but he has put him in midfield


The test with Neymar as a midfielder was proof that he’s scratching his head to define a regular team.

This question is easy to understand, but hard to solve: where to use Neymar and Vini Jr? Both players are best used as left-wingers. 

Neymar, however, has shown versatility since his early days playing for Santos in Brazil prior to his transfer to Barcelona.

Back when he was very young, he had already proven that he could help his teammates with lots of assists, and also score many goals.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the last weeks was the good form of Alex Telles.

The Manchester United loanee is living good days in Spain playing for Sevilla.

There’s a chance he could become the regular left-back when the Brazilians face Serbia in their first game of the group stage.

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Attacking Phase

When the Brazilians attack, the midfielders and attackers tend to rotate a lot and try to confuse the opposing defenders.

Neymar and Vini Jr. are players that leave their positions when they are left winger and often run across the box – scoring goals from the usual areas where strikers, right-wingers and attacking midfielders usually appear.

Brazil stars swap position in a fluid system that brings its own problems

This is, in fact, Brazil’s greatest strength and weakness.

Sometimes the change of positions in the attacking phase creates space to shoot and creates confusion.

But sometimes, in big games like the last Copa America final, against the defence of a stronger team, this kind of style doesn’t work as well as you’d think.

Better teams are less prone to be pulled out of position and this means there isn’t space to create the scoring chance.

Moreover, it depends a lot on the good form of players like Neymar to work perfectly.

Brazil has great squad depth, but they rely a lot on their biggest star.

And as their biggest rivals Argentina have shown us over the years, relying on your No 10 all the time does not make a World Cup-winning team.

Brazil like to use the full width of the pitch

Brazil uses a lot of the space between the defenders and the midfielders, as well as the wings, and lower tier teams have a hard time trying to adjust their man marking.

Teams find it hard to cope with Brazil’s wide stars

Defensive Phase

Brazil has been playing in a very dominant way in the last few years.

They focus on having the ball possession in the attacking third, and their defensive moments usually don’t last long, as they work fast after recovering the ball, organizing quick counterattacks that rely on the speed of their world-class wingers.

They have great defenders like Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Casemiro to help them recover the ball quickly meaning they can get back into dangerous positions quickly.

Below, as Argentina, begin their build-up on the left-hand side, Brazil shift their entire high block over.

Brazil go for a man-for-man defensive press

The press is initially led by two players, and as the ball is played to either side, one player will pressure the centre-back while the other tucks in on the opposition’s defensive midfielder.

With their block moved over, they adopt a man-to-man press and aim to keep the opposition from progressing into the midfield third.

The Brazilians are in line with modern football techniques and they work hard to recover the ball when the opponent has it in their defensive third. Yes, it’s another high press.

Brazil players surround the man on the ball

When Brazil doesn’t have the ball, a 4-4-2 formation is often used.

After recovering the ball, the team focuses on using the spaces between the lines.

Brazil often adopt a 4-4-2 formation in defence

Transitions

The transitions between defence and attack are a strong point of this team, especially between the midfield and the attackers.

The midfield block and the attackers fuse into a strong block of players that confuses the opposition.

Brazilians close down quickly to try to win the ball back

They converge on the man on the ball

The great quality of the players makes it easy for the player with the ball to find someone to pass the ball to quickly and effectively.

Brazil attack with great speed when they have the opportunity to counterattack.

The fast action after the recovery of the ball is a big asset of this team, and being able to give it to Vini Jr or Rodrygo or Neymar etc does help really.

Brazil attack with great speed once they have the ball back

Attackers

Brazil always has great attackers and this team is no exception. Richarlison, Vini Jr, Raphinha and Neymar are in top form. This area is certainly the strongest one in Tite’s squad.

Midfielders

Casemiro is a very important player in this team as he is experienced and won lots of trophies with Real Madrid before joining Manchester United.

Paquetá may not be as famous, but he has been called often by Tite and is an important part of his system. 

If Tite decides to use Raphinha, Vini Jr, and Richarlison as regulars, we may even see Neymar as a midfielder during the World Cup – as has been experimented with recently.

Defenders

The regular defenders are an important part of this team. Thiago Silva and Marquinhos form a solid part of their defensive system.

Alex Telles is also performing well and may become a regular during the tournament.

Éder Militão is also a useful player as he has been used as a right-back too in the last friendlies, which gives them some versatility.

Key player

Neymar is a powerhouse of assists and goals and everyone knows that.

He is displaying such a commitment during the PSG games prior to the World Cup – as he tries to show Tite and the Brazilian press that he’s serious about this World Cup.

Neymar is always surrounded by controversies, especially in France, but his numbers prior to the tournament are great.

It’s true that Ligue 1 isn’t as competitive as La Liga, his former domestic league, but it’s only fair to say that he’s doing all he can to arrive in Qatar in top form.

If he can allow himself to share the limelight with some of Brazil’s other attacking stars, things could come together nicely.

Tournament Prediction

The Brazilians certainly are one of the favourites to win the World Cup, together with France and England.

Brazil is expected to qualify for the Round of 16, as always, although their group has teams of intermediate quality like Serbia and Switzerland, which means they’ll be properly challenged before they face the knockout stage.

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This challenge could be good for the South Americans, to prepare for tougher games on their quest to lift their sixth World Cup.

For even more detailed analysis of all 32 teams in the FIFA World Cup 2022, download your copy of the November Total Football Analysis magazine here

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