Neymar’s probable return against South Korea has two reasons. He’s fine and he wants to play. Tite hasn’t said he will be in the starting line-up, but that’s the trend. The fact that the match is against the South Koreans does not reduce the risk. The national team needs to correct defects, bring its best players closer together and give the wingers a choice of tables.
Brazil has the second worst attack among the 16 teams classified in their groups. Three goals is the worst group stage performance since 1978, and wingers alone will not cut it.
Against Korea, the team will need more collective combinations, to allow Vinicius Junior to decide in the World Cup, as he did in the Champions League.
Rodrygo must now return to his place, as a substitute for Neymar. His two goals in two minutes of injury time against Manchester City came more to the merit of the lightning boy than to the strategy of Carlo Ancelotti. Rodrygo has the maturity to solve difficult matches. It will be him when he can’t be Neymar.
Vinicius also responds. At the age of 22, he already scored in the derby against Barcelona and became the fifth youngest to score in a Champions League final. Valverde’s play, converted by the boy from São Gonçalo, happened when he was 21 years and 320 days old. Patrick Kluivert, for Ajax, scored at the age of 18 years and 327 days, in the final against Milan in 1995.
The problem is knowing who will make combinations on the left, especially without a full-back. It’s no use handing him the ball and expecting him to dribble or score goals. His only one in the selection happened against Chile, in Maracanã, the place where he was born for football.
It is possible to expect a tough duel against South Korea. Paulo Bento’s team believed until the end, to the point of seeking a tie with Ghana when they were losing by 2-0 (they then took the third) and beating Portugal with a goal by Hwang Hee-chan, in stoppage time.
Counterattack. This is the central theme of the lectures given by the Portuguese coach. Son’s speed –no pun intended– in Militão’s sector is what can be annoying. The passes of Hwang In-beom, second midfielder and who touches the ball the most in the Asian team, must be marked.
Brazil will have to turn a complicated match into an easy one. As the Netherlands did against the United States.
With the difference that Louis Van Gaal’s pragmatism, in this World Cup, allows him to delay his marking to the defense and counterattack.
The Dutch were responsible for the 22nd victory of those who had less possession of the ball than the opponent (44%). Against Australia, Argentina conquered with forceps the 18th victory of those who try to control their rival with the ball at their feet (36%). It seems obvious that the South Koreans will try to enshrine the strategy of scoring and winning with a counterattack or free kick.
After the Russian Cup, Brazil only conceded 20 goals in 52 games. Only 12 resulted from fouls or corners and 4 from counter-attacks.
With Neymar and Vinicius, it seems easier to unlock the South Korean padlock.
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