The Samba Boys won matches and hearts aplenty coping hust fine without the high-profile Real Madrid starlet.
“How will the team adapt to the loss of Vinicius Junior, a player who was crucial to your South American U17 Football Championship win?” asked a zealous journalist in Carlos Amadeu’s first pre-match press conference in India. The Brazil U-17 coach smirked as if he had already prepared his answer, as he dodged the question, stating he had confidence in his current crop of players.
The Flamengo youngster was the talk of the town in the build-up to the FIFA U-17 World Cup, with his being pencilled in to spearhead the Brazil line-up in India then. An untimely knee injury meant his club withdrew his release, but Brazil, who outshone every team but England and Spain, have proven that they can cut the mustard with or without their £40 million soon-to-be Real Madrid striker.
SUPERB PLAYING STYLE
In fact, it took the Seleção a measly 25 minutes to crack open a stubborn Spain defence, with Lincoln capitalizing on poor Spain defending to tap home Brazil’s opener in India. Paulinho scored a belter past Spain ‘keeper Alvaro Fernandez 20 minutesrlal later as the Brazilians celebrated in front of a vociferous Kochi crowd like only Brazilians do. The technical staffers themselves didn’t stop with the standard air-punches, as they engaged in a group hug with the substitutes. Group hugs following amazing goals became a common occurrence in their games, with their outscoring 21 other teams, in style.
The goals were never merely down to the ties being mismatched, as is often the case with youth tournaments, as Brazil’s oppositions produced superb defensive displays against them. The technical South Americans, however, always crafted ways to unsettle every backline – no matter how resolute – they’d gone up against. Additionally, their solidity at the back in the second half against Spain proved they’re as effective going forward as they are in the attacking half.
Despite their traditional Ginga style of play touted to be on the wane, the teenagers proved it’s very much in their DNA, with their slicing through defences with much ease. Their playing style saw them press relentlessly to win the ball back swiftly after losing it, suffocate opposition with an average possession of 64.5 percent, make excellent use of it by playing lovely attacking football and, of course, showboat the tricks they’d learnt playing on the Brazilian streets.
Much akin to Brazil games of any age group, their games saw the audience cheer displays of individual brilliance on throughout their games. Brazil’s top-scorer Lincoln and winger Paulinho showcased great physique and strength only a few from their age group are gifted with, while Marcos Antonio, despite the lack thereof, left the opposition defences bamboozled through his trickery.
Victor Bobsin was discreetly pivotal as his role model Sergio Busquets is to his teams. Plus, Centre-backs Vitao and Lucas Halter complemented themselves awesomely; the former is a superb ball-playing defender who dashes forward when needed while the latter, an excellent reader, remains the deepest in the line-up.
Showing outstanding chemistry for their age group, they defended and attacked as a unit, with some of their movements being worthy of described poetry in motion. Alan Souza, in particular, stood out, who dictated the tempo of the games he played – much like his icon Andres Iniesta – and has reportedly put Inter Milan, Manchester United and Real Madrid on alert, with the clubs seemingly open to matching his £50 million release clause.
Lincoln and Vitinho were also watched by Manchester City, United and Barcelona, according to various reports. With the team already looking like million bucks, it’s not a surprise that the European heavyweights are ready to part ways with Raheem Sterling amounts of money for them.
One step at a time
The European dreams of the youngsters, though, are only at the periphery, as they seem keener on breaking into the senior team at their respective clubs at this stage of their careers. Victor Bobsin is keen on earning first-team minutes at Gremio while Alan and Paulinho are looking to become attacking mainstays at Palmeiras and Vasco da Gama, respectively.
The common consensus is that the Brazil football is on a steady decline, and the Brazil U-17 coach himself admitted the same as he attributed violence, video games and the decline of street football to it. However, Brazil’s future seems to be in good hands, with the youngsters looking the best Brazil U-17 team since Neymar’s 2009 side even without their celebrity striker.