World Cup 2018: Will Brazil bounce back to win the title?
Evolution , change and adaptation are the keys to survive and be successful in this competitive world. Living on past glories can have catastrophic consequences and can damage, as well as destroy, one’s reputation.
Four years ago, all eyes were on the Brazilian national team, as they were widely expected to win their sixth FIFA World Cup title in their own backyard, playing their trademark samba style rich brand of attacking football led by their new prince and potential Ballon D’Or winner Neymar.
Everything was going according to plan until 4 July 2014, when in the quarter-final against Colombia, Neymar broke a vertebra in his spine from a challenge by Colombian defender Juan Camilo Zúñiga. The sight was a horror show to each and every Brazilian fan but this was just the start of a rough couple of days, which every fan would remember for the rest of their life.
Brazil eventually emerged 2-1 victors against Colombia and then faced Germany in the semi-final on 8 July 2014. This day will always be remembered in football as the day Germany ran riot against Brazil, defeating them 7-1 and in this process breaking hearts of numerous Brazilian fans. Tears were shed by the players and the fans alike but they knew that change was needed.
The Seleção needed a new outlook and tough decisions had to be made to restore Brazilian football to the level that it is expected to be at. Sure this loss was humiliating, one which shattered the team but they had a choice: to continue in this mediocrity or to stand up, be brave, take bold decisions, look at their shortcomings and work to become the superpower they once were.
The Brazilian Football Association made the latter choice. They appointed, in a bizarre manner, their former coach Dunga, which turned out to be the wrong decision, as two years later Brazil were in sixth place outside the qualification slots and as expected the axe soon fell on the manager.
The job was then later taken over by former Brazilian captain and Corinthians coach Tite.
A manager who is tactically astute and a real student of the beautiful game, he has spent time learning and monitoring big teams and learning the way they play. As a player, having won the World Cup, he also knows what is required to succeed at the highest level, thus making the appointment of Dunga instead of Tite even stranger.
Brazil had the type of manager that could take this talented Brazilian team to the next level and what followed was a run of brilliant football that amazed fans, pundits and every football fan. They went on to register notable wins against Chile and (wait for it) Germany. They have been defensively sound and have played exciting football.
Tite has retained several players that did not perform to their full potential in the 2014 World Cup and has blooded youngsters like Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho, who along with Neymar have formed the most exciting attacking trio in world football. They can, on their day, make any team look like the worst in the world.
Brazil now also possesses one of the strongest midfields, with the grit and craft of someone like Fernandinho, a robust midfielder who can also get in the opposite box and add important goals in Paulinho and a man to anchor the team in Real Madrid's Casemiro. His club teammate, Marcelo, is an ever present at left back, who offers impetus to the attacking play, keeps his defensive position and is arguably the best left back in the world.
Leaders like Thiago Silva and Miranda give Brazil the steel they will need in the latter stages of the World Cup. They also possess Alisson, one of the highly rated goalkeepers in the world, who has attracted interest from big European clubs. Alisson is a great shot stopper, who is good with his feet and is in the sweeper keeper mould.
This Brazilian team thus possesses all the qualities a team needs to win this prestigious tournament. In Tite, they have just the perfect manager, who has done well to keep the team humble and played down expectations.
Being so close to 2018 World Cup, Brazil have come a long way from that disastrous loss against Germany. There is a saying that goes: "The harder you fall, the harder you rise”. The question that now remains is can this new resolute Brazilian team rise to the occasion and win the prestigious tournament?