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In Focus: Why Brazil’s Samba Boys have their flair back in Russia

Nick Murphy | 15 June 2018

We analyse the World Cup favourites

After the ignominy of their 7-1 defeat to Germany four years ago, Brazil return to the World Cup as favourites this time around.

The Samba Boys are renowned for their flair and exciting play going forward. But it hasn’t always gone to plan at the back.

Have Tite’s men learned their lessons from four years ago? Or are they likely to come undone in the latter stages once again? The Coral News Team has analysed their squad…

Tip top forwards

It’s difficult to argue with forward options consisting of Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Willian and Gabriel Jesus. All five of the Samba stars offer a genuine threat for a Brazil side that love to play on the front foot.

And unlike four years ago, they’re no longer relying on a single player to do all the work. Neymar is still the main man. But he’s flanked by world class talent on either side and in behind.  They have pace, power and skill. That not only combines to make them dangerous in attack, but also effective when they press.

Part of Brazil’s problem four years ago was that they didn’t feel like much of a team. The 2018 edition is more of a throwback to the sides of old, and that should serve them well in Russia.

The link

All good sides need a quality defensive midfield pivot. A player that provides the link between defence and attack. Gilberto Silva and Dunga have performed that role to perfection in the last 25 years or so.

Now Casemiro looks set to take up the mantle in Russia. The 26-year-old starred for Real Madrid last season as they hoovered up a third successive Champions League title. And his ability has been pinpointed by former coach Luis Felipe Scolari and ex-Arsenal man Gilberto as the key to Brazil’s success.

Not only does the Los Blancos star protect a sometimes weak-looking defence. He also has the brain and vision to set his nation’s free-flowing attacks on their way. With Brazil’s pace on the counterattack that could prove invaluable.

Stronger between the sticks

Brazil teams of the past have always had a rock solid goalkeeper at the peak of their powers. Think Leao, think Claudio Taffarel and to a lesser extent, think Dida. Their goalkeeping options at the last World Cup, by contrast, left a lot to be desired.

Botafogo’s Jefferson and Atletico Mineiro’s Victor were both limited in their experience. That left the veteran Julio Cesar, who at the time was on-loan at Toronto following relegation to the Championship with Queens Park Rangers.

Things have stepped up a notch this time around. AS Roma’s Alisson is number one, with Manchester City’s Ederson an ample deputy. Not having a top-class goalkeeper may not seem like a big deal for a top-heavy side like Brazil. But in reality it makes all the difference.

They have the ability to see all of the play and organise what has sometimes proved to be a haphazard defence. Thiago Silva, Miranda, Marcelo and Danilo are an impressive looking back-four.

But having Alisson’s influence from behind and Casemiro’s in-front will help them markedly as they bid to go all the way this summer. Selecao’s only real area of concern is down the flanks. If they can manage to deal with that to good effect, it could be a summer to remember for the five-time champs.

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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing