The ghosts from four years ago continue to haunt the Samba Boys’ faithful and Khel Now’s Abhranil Roy underlines what at stake in Russia.
Football is a funny game: it can both punish you and reward you in equal measure. Without doubt, Brazil have been football’s favorite child ever since the first World Cup in 1930. The game has given the country five world titles, more than any other nation, but it has also subjected them to repeated humiliation, most notably in the 1950, 1982 and 1998 editions. However, none of them came close to the misery endured by the Selecao in 2014.
Germany and Brazil have been historically great rivals providing some of the finest matches in World Cup history. A similar game of sorts was expected in the semi-final of the last tournament, which was coincidentally organized in Brazil. The home side were hosting Die Mannschaft in what was expected to be a very tight game with a handful of chances. Fate though, had other plans.
At the end of the 90 minutes, the scoreline read 7-1 in favor of the away side. A travesty of immeasurable effect had occurred and the Canarinhas are still carrying the burden of that defeat. This time, the venue is Russia, but the likes of Thiago Silva and Neymar, who had both missed the fateful match that day due to suspension and injury respectively, are hellbent on re-doing the wrongs. But, the question is, can they go all the way and avenge the humiliation?
Well, if yesterday’s game is anything to go by, the Men in Yellow are unlikely to fare much better this time around.
Brazil opened their 2018 World Cup campaign with a Group E fixture against Switzerland yesterday and they flattered to deceive. The Brazilians started off brightly and led thanks to a wonderful far-post curler from Phillipe Coutinho, but that was it. They ceded control of the game right after scoring and it was all Switzerland from then. The Europeans shut down their opponent’s attacking channels and ensured that whenever they had the ball, they made the most of it.
Neymar, Brazil’s superstar forward who just recovered in time from a broken metatarsal to make it for this game had an extremely mediocre outing. The PSG man tried a skill too many and held on to the ball for too long. Thus reducing the pace of the counter-attacks and he was repeatedly hacked down by the Swiss to go rolling on the pitch.
Staying in shape and taking full advantage of the South Americans’ lack of imagination in attack, Xherdan Shaqiri and his colleagues made excellent use of the width of the pitch.
They finally got their due reward in the 50th minute when Steven Zuber headed home from a corner to equalize. Tite’s men eventually woke up from their slumber after conceding, but thanks to the fine saves from Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer as well as their own toothlessness in possession, the game ended in a draw. Thus, for the first time since 1978, Brazil started their World Cup campaign without picking up a win.
Watch: Brazil 1-1 Switzerland highlights
A performance like this would not relieve any Brazil fan and the same has happened to me. We have been carrying nightmares of that loss for four years now and we deserve a lot better. The team has to be a lot more cohesive and fluid in transition, like they were during the friendlies and Qualifiers.
For the next game against Costa Rica, Neymar has to bring others into play much more frequently; Roberto Firmino has to start ahead of Gabriel Jesus, while the midfield needs to comprise of Renato Augusto, Casemiro and Coutinho.
Use of both wings as well as dynamism in the midfield, also must be inculcated in the training sessions. If the ghosts of 2014 have to be vanquished, it is mandatory for the big names to step up, or else Russia will be another sordid tale in Brazil’s search for the ever-elusive “Hexa”.