Wed | Jul 28, 2021

Brazil still seeking balance

Published:Saturday | June 29, 2019 | 12:19 AM
Brazil’s players celebrate winning at the end of the Copa Amêrica quarter-final match against Paraguay at the Arena do Gêmio in Porto Alegre on Thursday.
Brazil’s players celebrate winning at the end of the Copa Amêrica quarter-final match against Paraguay at the Arena do Gêmio in Porto Alegre on Thursday.

Porto Alegre, Brazil (AP):

After escaping an embarrassing elimination, Brazil are trying to find the right balance for the rest of the Copa América at home.

Brazil have been playing solidly on defence from the start but have struggled in attack against teams with tight defensive systems.

It was the case against Paraguay on Thursday in their quarter-final in Porto Alegre, where Brazil needed a penalty shoot-out to advance after being held to 0-0 despite playing most of the second half with an extra man.

Without the injured Neymar, Brazil have already endured difficulties against Bolivia and Venezuela in the group stage, drawing boos from the local fans. The exception was the match against Peru in the final group game, when Brazil scored early to open up the defence en route to a comfortable 5-0 rout.

BOOST MORALE

That victory boosted the team’s confidence and raised hopes that coach Tite had found a solution to end the attacking slump. But despite playing with the same attackers who impressed against Peru, including youngsters Gabriel Jesus and Everton, the team struggled to find the net again.

“The ball wasn’t reaching the forwards,” Tite said. “They defended very well in the first half. We made some adjustments and started creating more opportunities, and after the red, card we tried to take advantage of that.”

Brazil pressed nearly full-time after gaining the man advantage in the 58th minute but couldn’t find a way to break the Paraguayan defence and a good performance by goalkeeper Roberto ‘Gatito’ Fernández.

Tite said the poor field at Arena Grêmio also didn’t help his more technical attacking players.

Brazil’s defence – led by Dani Alves, Filipe Luis and Thiago Silva – was solid again and is yet to concede a goal after four matches. Colombia, who played Chile in the other quarter-final yesterday, are the only other team yet to concede.

Next up for Brazil will be Lionel Messi’s Argentina or Venezuela, who met yesterday in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil also suffered against Venezuela in the group stage, being held to a scoreless draw in Salvador.

Argentina could theoretically give Brazil a better match-up in the semi-finals as they’re not likely to play as defensively as Venezuela did in the group stage.

“[Argentina] are a team with great individual quality,” said Tite, who is under pressure to win the tournament at home a year after Brazil’s World Cup elimination in the quarter-finals.

Coach Dunga, Tite’s predecessor, was fired in 2016 after Brazil’s elimination in the Copa América.

“It’s part of the job as a coach; (this pressure) it’s inevitable,” Tite said. “The most important thing is to keep working normally.”