Balanced Brazil reduces dependence on Neymar

Ross Houston
June 13, 2018

Despite the quality they boast within their ranks, Brazil were hit by the injury to veteran defender Dani Alves who was eventually ruled out of the competition.

Neymar completed 83 minutes before making way for Douglas Costa - a decision Tite explained was taken as a precaution against any potential muscular strains for his star man. Fernandinho dropping to the bench to accommodate Neymar and give Coutinho a central role was the only adjustment to the side that faced Croatia but Tite once again refuted suggestions his XI to take on Switzerland in Rostov is locked in.

"It is time for us in Brazil to win a World Cup again", Ronaldo told press in Moscow. When Brazil want to open the match up and go after an opponent, Fernandinho likely drops out to feature either Willian or Coutinho in the midfield three.

Austria only half cleared and Marcelo's drive deflected to Jesus for the forward to curl in from an angle.

Brazil football team

Forwards: Neymar, Douglas Costa, Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino, Taison.

Neymar played 83 minutes in only his second game since returning from a metatarsal injury in February but scored a stunning goal - Jesus and Coutinho netted the other two - and looked very close to full fitness. He stayed on for nearly the entire game, being replaced in the 84th by Douglas Costa. Brazil are the only team in history to have qualified for all World Cups in the past, and even here, were the first team to book their place. And in the last game he played really well and I think that made him more confident.

Against Austria, he had no attempt on goal in the opening hour but went down three times following rough challenges by the home side. Similar fouls were committed by Florian Grillitsch in the 35th and Sebatian Proedl in the 53rd.

Neymar's scintillating goal drew him level with Romario in Brazil's all-time top scorers list as they cruised to a 3-0 win against Austria.

Neymar not only has to bear the hopes of 200 million fans on his slender shoulders, but also those of one of his country's biggest legends. The fear of a similar disaster will still be in Brazilian's minds until the end of this World Cup, but they shouldn't be.

However, Tite had midfielder Fred left off the team after he hurt his right ankle in training on Thursday. So, I see a Selecao that can go far.

Brazil attracted an army of excited youngsters - including one who managed to get onto the pitch for a selfie - as they held their first training session on Russian soil ahead of the World Cup on Tuesday.

"You can talk, you're Brazilian and you can dream; we're dreaming more and more".

They play their first match against Switzerland on Sunday.

Drawn in Group E, Brazil, who are second behind defending world champions Germany in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings, begin their campaign against Switzerland next Sunday, June 17, before also taking on Costa Rica and Serbia.

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