Talking Points: Are Costa and Coutinho the real keys to Brazil's World Cup success?
Written by: Atrayo Bhattacharya
The duo impresed as the South American giants sealed a vital last-gasp win.
The second round matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup are on the move as Brazil defeated a well-drilled Costa Rican side, who were solid at the back for the most part of the game. It was only in injury-time that the Selecao broke the deadlock through a Philippe Coutinho strike before Neymar made it 2-0.
Costa Rica were very organised at the back and had answers to almost every question asked by the mighty Brazilians. Let's take a look at the five key takeaways from the match.
5. Weaker teams in this World Cup have shown great defensive orginsation and stability
This World Cup has come up with some upsets from the underdogs, but out of all the things, one aspect which remains common is the defensive stability shown by the supposed weaker teams. Costa Rica were excellent defensively in their first match against Serbia as it required a stunning free-kick from Aleksandar Kolarov to break the deadlock.
Similarly, the Central Americans held out against the Brazilian onslaught throughout the game and it was only in injury-time that Coutinho broke the stalemate. Even teams like Iran, Panama and Iceland have shown how solid they are at the back.
4. Neymar concentrating more on earning fouls than scoring goals
The 26-year old has the gift of pace and ability to dribble past defenders at will. That allows him to earn fouls in crucial areas from where the Selecao can hurt their opponents. But, Neymar seems to have taken that way too seriously as his attitude seems inclined more towards earning fouls than scoring goals. He was the most fouled player in the match against Switzerland and again the same thing happened against Costa Rica.
His penalty claim late in this game proved that he was more concerned about getting a spot-kick than getting a shoton target as he was in a great position to score.
3. Deploying Coutinho in midfield seems to be working well for Tite
Earlier Brazilian boss Tite used to play Coutinho on the flanks and that's where he was expected to start in the World Cup. But, the tactician has made a change and it paid dividends. Coutinho playing in a deeper role centrally allows him to capitalize on the loose balls near the opposition penalty area as he has a stunning long shot in his armoury from that far out.
Even against Costa Rica his desire to move forward and dispatch anything that's loose allowed him to break the deadlock. The change in his role has done a world of good for the Barcelona man, as he seems to be relishing the opportunity of being the creator-in-chief for the Selecao.
2. Douglas Costa made a huge impact coming off the bench in the second half
The Juventus winger was sensational to say the least as he came on from the bench to have a massive impact on the match. Costa had the desire to move the ball forward which drew a lot of fouls from the Costa Rican defenders.
His lightning pace allowed him to cut through the back four at times creating clear chances for the 5-time winners. Tite now has a tough decision to make in their third game as he may go with the same starting XI or he may choose to go with the more menacing Douglas Costa ahead of Willian, based on the performances of the former.
1. Despite Brazil winning, the group is still pretty open
Brazil registered their first win in the tournament over Costa Rica and took pole position in Group E. But, both Switzerland and Serbia stand a great chance to progress to the next round.
The Swiss will take on the Serbs in a crucial encounter as Lliija Petkovic's men will be out for a win and even Serbia will look to consolidate their position with three points. A win for Serbia will mean that they will progress to the knockouts without a doubt. Whereas a Swiss win or draw will keep it pretty open till the third round of matches.
Published: Fri Jun 22, 2018 09:36 PM IST