Brazil regret tactical caution in Copa America opener

Brazil regret tactical caution in Copa America opener

Brazil's young forward line faces a big question this Copa America: how will they cope with cautious opponents who defend deep and don't allow them to counter-attack?

Coach Dorival Junior's reign began with a win over England in March and a thrilling 3-3 draw with Spain. But these were very different to most matches Brazil play – and especially different to Dorival's competitive debut against Costa Rica. In front of their fans, England and Spain tried to push forward. Brazil could have sat back and chosen the opportunity to go ahead. That was clearly not going to happen against Costa Rica.

Argentina coach Gustavo Alfaro organises a fine defensive unit. His Costa Rica were clearly going to take few chances, and he relied on a key ally – the size of the Inglewood pitch.

The playing surfaces used in this Copa are smaller than those used in normal FIFA tournaments. This topic has become an obsession for Brazilians during their preparation for the tournament, as their obvious conclusion is that the smaller the pitch, the more difficult it will be for them to play through opponents.

Brazil were caught in a personal nightmare in the match against Costa Rica. They were expected to beat their CONCACAF rivals with ease. Chances came and went. There were penalty appeals too. Marquinhos The ball was in the net, but the goal was ruled out due to a narrow offside. In the stands, neymar As chances were missed, frustration grew. Some of the frustration was felt on the field as well. Brazil were irritable at times, hasty at times. For instance, the kind of calm that was there at the start of the day was missing. james rodriguez He played an important role in scoring Colombia's first goal against Paraguay.

This time even Kishore Supersub did not start Andrik could have saved the day. And so Dorival Junior's first competitive game in charge of Brazil ended in a disappointing 0-0 draw, and Costa Rica, who had shown no threat throughout the game, celebrated wildly at the final whistle.

How much blame should be placed on Dorival?

On any other day, a similar level of performance would have led to a comfortable win. But there were some problems – most obviously in the team selection. Against such defensive opponents, did Brazil really need both? Bruno Guimaraes And joao gomes In the center of the midfield?

Joao Gomes was superb at Wembley, having made his international debut in March, when he darted into tackles and kept the English at bay. Here he was perhaps superfluous. Centre backs such as Marquinhos and Eder Militao They did not need the level of protection they provide. It was surprising they were only removed within the last 10 minutes, because the solution is pretty obvious; drop Lucas Paqueta in the central midfield role, which he has often played for Brazil.

Paqueta is at his best playing in front of goal, where he is able to distribute the game best. In this type of game, Paqueta and Rodrigo Dorival Junior can expect a barrage of criticism for the first time in his tenure as Brazil coach, for selecting a squad that was too cautious and then waiting too long to change the balance.

However, Rodrigo was perhaps the brightest ray of light on this display. For years Brazil have expected a lot from this mobile, intelligent and talented attacker from Real Madrid, and he has constantly found different ways to trouble the Costa Rica defence. Vinicius JuniorNothing really happened, though. It was a disappointing night for Vinicius, who nicked a chance to Andric with less than 20 minutes remaining. This is his first tournament as Brazil's senior attacker, but his one-against-one skills did not show against the Costa Ricans, who managed to avoid defeat to Brazil for the first time since beating an experimental side at the 1960 Pan-American Games.

Brazil might prefer to pay more attention to recent events. At the 2016 Copa Centenario, Brazil demolished their CONCACAF opponents, winning 7-1 over Haiti. That did not do them much good. They failed to score against their South American group rivals, drawing 0-0 with Ecuador and losing 1-0 to Peru. Their fate in this year's group stage will also be determined by the results of matches against CONMEBOL teams. Later in line comes the dangerous Colombia. But first, Paraguay, a side whose traditional resilience proved too much for Brazil in the 2011 and 2015 Copas. Perhaps the Las Vegas venue on Friday will encourage Dorival Jr. to bet on a less cautious line-up.

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