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Valentino Singh: Tite’s Seleçao to make all the noise in Russia

“Under former coach Dunga, the team lacked the samba rhythm for which the Brazilians had become known; the players seemed full of skill and ability but cohesion was non-existent.

“What a transformation the current head coach has effected.

“The man who guided Corinthians to the domestic, continental and world titles in 2011-12 has changed this Brazil team into an inspired bunch. Their natural flair is back and the ability and creativity of superbly gifted players like Neymar, Coutinho and Firmino have found favour with the new coach…”

Retired Trinidad Guardian editor Valentino Singh picks his horse for the Russia 2018 World Cup:

Photo: Then Brazil football captain Cafu lifts the World Cup trophy in 2002.
(Copyright Goal)

I pick Brazil to win this year’s World Cup. No surprise there, is there?

Their history, their pedigree and, most importantly, the quality of this year’s squad, supported by a manager who has already signalled that he knows what is required to produce champions, are grounds enough on which to confidently predict a sixth lien on football’s most prestigious prize.

The early part of their campaign two years ago was deficient in many respects and it appeared that, for the first time in the history of the tournament, la Seleçao would be missing out on the Finals.

Under former coach Dunga, the team lacked the samba rhythm for which the Brazilians had become known; the players seemed full of skill and ability but cohesion was non-existent.

An opening match defeat by subsequent non-qualifier Chile and draws with Bolivia, Colombia and a stuttering Argentina proved too much. Dunga was kicked out and Tite stepped in.

What a transformation the current head coach has effected.

The man who guided Corinthians to the domestic, continental and world titles in 2011-12 has changed this Brazil team into an inspired bunch. Their natural flair is back and the ability and creativity of superbly gifted players like Neymar, Coutinho and Firmino have found favour with the new coach. He has had the good sense to not only encourage it but to strengthen it tactically so that individual skills and movement with the ball are now once more an integral part of a well-oiled and finely tuned machine.

Photo: Tite, in charge of the Samba Boys since 2016, has an impressive record of success.

The remarkable turnaround in the results comes, therefore, as no surprise.

Recent warm-up victories over 2018 hosts Russia (3-0) and defending champions Germany (1-0) have no doubt provided Tite with a couple of vital pieces for his tactical portfolio and I am eager to see the improvements I feel certain will come in their last few warm-up games in the coming weeks prior to the June 14 kick-off.

It is important to note that Tite seems to now enjoy, to have earned the respect and admiration of all his ‘stars’. It is a hallmark of great managers that their players believe in what they are doing and this becomes even more critical in a team where egos can often ruin the best of plans.

The respect this star-studded team has for Tite is a large part of the reason I believe Brazil will win the World Cup.

I also believe Neymar’s misfortune four years ago will be a factor in Russia. In 2014, injury robbed him—and the home side!—of a chance to win the title without which no player can aspire, ask Lionel Messi, to unquestioned recognition as one of the true greats of the game.

Between that forgettable campaign and the one beginning shortly, Neymar’s stocks have improved. And he knows that it would add to his legacy if he can deny Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, two rivals with whom he is often compared, their place in World Cup history.

Photo: Brazil’s star attacker Neymar shows off the skills expected to make him a handful for opposing defences during this month’s World Cup 2018 in Russia.

So expect Neymar to emerge from the 2018 tournament an enhanced player. And expect the Brazilian engine room, with Neymar, Coutinho, Paulinho, Willian and, of course, Gabriel Jesus to make such a universal noise that the Volga will still be trembling underneath her banks as Tite and company leave Russia with title number six under their belts.

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23 comments

  1. Brazil, Brazil, Brazil, I have supported Brazil since 1958 no reason to turn back now.”King Pele” was about seventeen years old.

  2. Brazil for life we bring d world cup home

  3. I’ve been waiting for the return of real Braz Samba for a long time.

  4. Brazil is a top class team and the coach has done well. They are one of the favourites . Dunga was also a good coach but maybe his time has passed

  5. So Valentino, samba rhythm = cohesion?

  6. And will fail to win the World cup just like 4 yrs ago.

    • Maybe. Maybe not. No one thought Brazil had a ghost of a chance when the team scraped through in the qualifying WC rounds in late 2001. Everyone thought, judging from their previous record back then, that if they survived the first round, the Brazilians would be lucky. They ended up winning the World Cup for the fifth time in Japan in 2002. So, one can never tell.

    • Most successful team in the history of the World Cup…only team to hold five stars…have never missed a World Cup since its inception. I’d bet on them any day of the week.

  7. At the moment I don’t like their performance against Croatia but Neymar is stepping on for the second half. Let’s see.

  8. In this World Cup, Brazil is capable of exiting in the first round.

    All the three teams have to do is get one point each against Brazil and bye bye Neymar.

    Maybe if Switzerland beats them 1-0 on Day 1, the group will be blown wide open.

    Remember T&T did not need flair to eke out a result. The flair of Brazil may not help them get out of the group.

  9. Hannibal Najjar

    I am always for Brazil – since my childhood days Val, and for some of your mentioned reasons we are together on this. I believe that if all goes fair-to-fine for Argentina they can steal the Cup, just as Germany did in Brazil. And, like that 2014 WC, I pick Belgium as my outside horse – too much talent across the board. England has shown up finally winning two successive age group Youth Tournaments and the spillover can play a part. Germany is never to be counted out. Spain may be a stalemate as would Portugal. I am no pundit-to-the-core person but I have a keen sense of momentum and flow. Let us see!