After victory over Ecuador and keeping their cool to earn a point in in Barranquilla, media reaction remains positive ahead of Russia 2018
With their place at Russia 2018 already having been secured, Brazil’s first two post-qualifying outings proved a positive exercise.
A year after his arrival as coach, Tite has defined and solidified both his approach and his personnel ahead of the big kick-off next year.
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With one eye focused firmly on leading the Selecao to a sixth world title, Tite made it clear that preparations for Russia were well underway.
The coaching staff have spent much of the last 12 months prioritising an approach to perform under intense pressure, which perhaps explained the relatively sluggish start Brazil made against Ecuador in Porto Alegre on Thursday.
Tite’s 100% record as Brazil boss came to an end in June, when his side were defeated by Argentina in a Brasil Global Tour fixture in Australia. With the pressure off, his experimental side struggled to get going against their old rivals, and it proved a similar story for the opening stages against Ecuador before a second-hallf improvement saw them secure a 2-0 win.
Five days later, they were held to a 1-1 draw by Colombia in Barranquilla, as Tite’s run of nine consecutive competitive victories finally came to an end. But there plenty of positives, and the Brazilian media reacted well to another Conmebol World Cup qualifying double-header.
“it is really about maintaining the level of performance,” said BBC Brasil’s Tim Vickery.
“I think we are no longer talking about the qualifiers, but about preparing for the World Cup. So, the result is now secondary. We are analysing the team and thinking about how they will perform at the World Cup.
“I thought we saw good things against Colombia, because of the difficulties Brazil faced, including the logistical madness of playing the first match in Porto Alegre and then going all the way up to Barranquilla.
“The sacrifice that South American players make to defend their national teams is very impressive – the Europeans do not do overcome the same things, and I do not think they would.”
There were some defensive frailties on show, however, and Tim believes that while Tite has overcome the problems in attack that plagued the Selecao since World Cup 2014, there is still some work to do at the back, specifically around the full-backs.
“In my view there are two problems,” he said. “One is that the space that Brazil leave behind the full-backs, because of the way the they push on.
“Both Marcelo and Daniel Alves better in attack than in defence and, while against Colombia Filipe Luis came in, who is more defensive, Brazil still had more problems in those areas. It was where the Colombia goal came from. So, their opponents will be watching that and thinking about how they too can take advantage.”
But for Tite, losing his perfect competitive run of results could actually prove a positive, suggested some. The weight of maintaining that perfect record has been lifted, which could have left the Selecao with unrealistic expectations.
Lance!’s Igor Siqueira believed Colombia were the toughest opponents of the Tite era, and also stressed that, despite the result, the Canarinho are still performing to a high standard.
“I think Brazil maintained their balance even with some of the changes that Tite made,” said Siqueira. “It’s no use expecting to walk into the World Cup with a 100% record because that would practically require a miracle in the modern game.
“Colombia were a difficult opponent, one who had provided the stiffest test of Tite’s time in charge so far [when Brazil won 2-1 in September] and, in the sweltering heat, a draw was a good result.”
Carlos Eduardo Mansur of O Globo, meanwhile, spoke about how Brazil were forced to look for solutions during both games and the importance that being able to do so.
“Against a rival who needed to compete for the points, pushed on by their supporters, in a spectacular stadium environment in strong heat, the Selecao went through an exercise in finding solutions during a match. They had to readjust and find stability during the match, so perhaps Tite has been satisfied with that.”
The overall media reaction to Tite’s time in charge remains almost entirely positive, and a happy press core will return next month when Brazil close out qualification against Bolivia in La Paz and Chile in Sao Paulo.
With 37 points so far, Brazil can equal the current record points tally set in qualification with two victories, which would take them level with the total earned by Marcelo Bielsa’s Argentina in 2002.