Tite’s boldness pays off
St. Petersburg, Russia — It will be remembered for Neymar’s post-game tears, the two injury-time goals, and another big call from the video assistant referee.
Yet the dramatic finish to Brazil’s 2-0 win over Costa Rica was instructive in showing the thinking of Tite and the plans the coach may have for his team going forward in the World Cup.
Often referred to as “The Professor” by his players, Tite demonstrated boldness and a bright mind in making second-half changes that, ultimately, changed the game and kept Brazil in charge of its own destiny in Group E.
Willian was hauled off at halftime and replaced by Douglas Costa, whose pace and trickery on the right wing allowed him to get in behind Costa Rica’s compact defense. He set up the second goal for Neymar.
Roberto Firmino also made an impact when coming on in the 68th minute. Tellingly, he didn’t go on as a straight swap for fellow striker Gabriel Jesus but instead for central midfielder Paulinho. It was only the second time that Gabriel Jesus and Firmino have played together for Brazil — the other time was for the final few minutes of a match against Chile in South American qualifying — and they combined to contribute to Coutinho’s go-ahead goal in the first minute of stoppage time.
Brazil finished the game virtually playing with five attackers, two very attacking full backs and only Casemiro anchoring the midfield in front of his two center backs.
“It was beautiful, perfect,” Tite said of Brazil’s second-half display.
The question now is how he approaches the last group game against Serbia. Brazil needs only a draw to secure a top-two finish and a place in the knockout stage. Brazil is tied on four points with Switzerland and it isn’t yet certain if finishing first or second in the group would be better ahead of a last-16 match against a team from Group F, which contains Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.
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