Copa America: Brazil Crowned Champions on Home Soil

The Brazilian national team were crowned the kings of South America after winning the Copa America on home soil.

Another Tournament at Home Another Trophy

Although the 7-1 humiliation at the hands of Germany is still by far the darkest day in Brazilian football, the national team have actually been very good on home soil. They won the Confederations Cup in 2013, Olympic gold in 2016 and now Copa America in 2019.

 

That is an impressive haul and this latest win will go a long way in repairing the relationship between the national team and its fans. Another reason for the less than enthusiastic support the ‘Selecao’ (as they are known in Brazil) is the fact that there are hardly any players from the domestic league in the squad. This is why the performance of Everton Soares was so important in this title run.

 

The young man known as “Cebolinha” (little Onion) in Brazil, started the tournament on the bench in favor of David Neres of Ajax but was quickly inserted into the starting lineup in Brazil’s second match. That proved to be a master stroke by Tite, with Everton scoring a goal in that match. He went on to lead the tournament in scoring and was a clear fan favorite throughout this run giving people in Brazil exactly what they’ve been asking for which is more local players. His performance will surely open the door for more players from the Brazilian league to earn a place among the European based stars who make up the majority of the team. It will be interesting to see what happens to Everton’s place once Neymar returns.

They Won It Without Neymar

When Neymar suffered his foot injury in their last friendly against Qatar, nobody was sure what his absence would mean for this team. Even though he hasn’t been at his best recently, on his day he is one of the three best players in the world. Since being appointed national team manager, Tite has built a squad that has a solid backbone and doesn’t rely on Neymar to do everything. That was obvious in this run to the title. They certainly could have used Neymar’s individual brilliance to unlock defenses at times but instead they relied on the collective skill of their players. The debate between Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City or Firmino of Liverpool has been going on for about 2-3 years. They each scored in the 2-0 semi final victory against Argentina, assisting on each other’s goals.

 

With Neymar out, Tite decided to play them both at the same time and that decision coupled with Everton in the starting lineup gave this squad just enough creativity to see them through. All three attacking players finished with multiple goals and assists in the tournament which shows that it was truly a team effort. It will be interesting to see how they incorporate Neymar back into the fold. Clearly he is an unquestioned starter but which of the three does Tite drop? The logical answer would be Everton but after the way he performed, fans back in Brazil will not be happy if that is the case.

There are Still Changes to be Made

This team is much better than the one that Tite took over but it still needs work. The biggest question is what to do about an aging defense that has been the spine of this team. One revelation for Tite in the tournament has to be Juventus left back Alex Sandro. The team improved tremendously once he took Felipe Luis’ place in the starting 11 and should be in line for a place in the next World Cup along with Marquinhos in the center of defense. Both players are 28 and 25 respectively and are borderline world class at their respective positions. In goal, Brazil have possibly the world’s best goalie at the moment in Alisson Becker of Liverpool. What is completely unknown is who will be the next right back and central defender? By the time the next world cup comes around, Thiago Silva will be 37 and captain Dani Alves (voted player of the tournament) will be 39. The next step in the evolution of Tite’s team will be replacing these two giants. That will not be an easy task but if he can get it done, this team has everything necessary to win the only trophy that truly matter in Brazil, the World Cup.

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