Last Updated on December 5, 2022 by
The Brazilian coaches were joking before training, and Neymar stopped them and played with coach Tite. “That’s a bunch of kids coming,” he smiled. “They’re just too much, they’ll give you a headache.”
The Paris St-Germain superstar is talking about the players Tite has dubbed “perninhas rapidas” (quick little feet).
And he wasn’t wrong – the arrival of Raphinha, Vinicius Jr, Gabriel Martinelli, Antony and Rodrygo completely changed the way the Selecao played and forced the 61-year-old to include them all in his World Cup squad.
They have helped turn an incompetent and uncharitable side into one that will win over the country – arguably for the first time since 2006 – and they believe that winning The sixth cup is not only that. possible, but possible.
Brazilians rediscover DNA that attacks. When in possession, they usually use a 2-3-5 formation that relies heavily on the wings, not on the forwards and backs as in the past. However, this does not mean that the defenders have been left out – Alisson, Thiago Silva and co have only scored 19 goals in 50 games before Qatar and often looked impenetrable.
For most of the four-year cycle it feels like this side hasn’t been properly tested, though. They have not faced European opposition since March 2019 when they played a friendly match against the Czech Republic, despite attempts to arrange a match against the likes of England and Spain. It is the longest they have gone without facing opposition from Europe since the 1954 World Cup.
But now in the World Cup this is not a concern. It is the death of Europe. The Selecao are ready, after finishing first in their group and with star Neymar will be able to play again in the second round match against South Korea on Monday.
“Brazil is much more prepared now than it was in 2018 and 2014. Among other things, the ‘perninhas rapidas’ have removed some of the problems from Neymar’s shoulders,” former international Grafite, who works as an expert , he told BBC Sport.
“Obviously, if we’re going to win in Qatar, we’ll need Neymar at his best, but we don’t rely on him alone. Unlike before, we have depth in all areas.
“Neymar is not the only one in this team, if he passes on the right side, he will find Raphinha, for example, the boy who is dangerous in one-on-one situations, he can dribble and cut inside, it doesn’t matter where you are view – defense, midfield and attack – the talent is everywhere.”
Caracas turning point
Except for Argentina’s defeat at home in the final of the Copa America 2021, Brazil hardly faced violence on the way to Qatar. But despite the good results, the five-time world champions first tried to conquer the stadium and get fans.
That all changed after the second half of a 3-1 win away to Venezuela in October 2021.
The Selecao lost 1-0 at halftime when Tite decided to introduce Raphinha and give him his first international game. The young winger, then of Leeds United, had a night to remember, setting up two goals and winning the first penalty. Vini Jr and Antony were also given minutes and impressed in Caracas.
The following week, Raphinha was in the starting XI, and continued his impressive performance in the 4-1 win over Uruguay, perhaps the Brazilian’s best performance since Russia 2018.
From that moment there was no way back.
“I believe that the biggest contribution that Raphinha and the other young players have made so far is the joy they have brought back into the team,” said Grafite.
“We can’t always attack the other sides like we did in the preliminaries, that’s obvious, but I think it’s important to see our traditional offensive style there again and recognize it.”
It’s the ‘perninhas rapidas’ time to shine
Of the 14 players used in Belgium’s 2-1 home win over Brazil in the semi-finals of the last World Cup, only four remain in the team – Alisson, Thiago Silva, Neymar and Jesus, who is now injured. . Former footballers like Fernandinho, Marcelo and Filipe Luis were thrown on the road.
It’s a different team in Qatar, but the pressure is even higher than in 2018.
If Brazil does not win the tournament this year, at least it will reach the position of the longest country without winning the World Cup, that is 24 years between 1970 and 1994.
None of the ‘perninhas rapidas’ were born when Romario inspired the South Americans to the title in America, but now it will be up to them to avoid the unwanted record and return home as champions.
Grafite continued that “Brazil will not be able to go to Qatar well, but everything happens very quickly in the World Cup, so it is not guaranteed to win.”
“We have teams like England, France and Argentina who can win it, and we will wait and see.”
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