Recap: Brazil vs Tunisia 1:4 (Round of 1) (Sport<>)
The Brazil national team owes Israel quite a bit even before the meeting in the quarterfinals of the FIFA U-20 World Championship. Thanks to us, the tournament was moved from Indonesia to Argentina, which is much more convenient for the South Americans, but not only. The prospect of winning the title on the soil of their arch-rivals is very appealing to Salsão, and will serve as a kind of revenge – albeit imperfect, of course – for Argentina's Copa America win on Brazilian soil in 2021, as well as the Albiceleste's qualification for the 2014 World Cup final, which Brazil so desperately wanted to win.
Now that the host team has been sensationally eliminated by Nigeria in the eighth final, that dream is far more real. The Brazilians remain the clear favourites for the gold medals, with only Italy seemingly able to challenge them in the final – they have already beaten them 2-3 in a thrilling battle in the group stage. On the other hand, the sense of superiority can lead to complacency, especially after a very easy 1-4 victory over Tunisia in the eighth final, which was achieved numerically inferior, and this is what Ofir Haim's team will try to exploit to the fullest.
So far, Israel has met 4 mid-level teams in the tournament. Colombia, Senegal, Japan and Uzbekistan were very worthy opponents, but they cannot be defined as significantly stronger compared to the blue and white squad. This time the situation is different, because Brazil is a collection of significant talents, some of whom may be upgraded to stars in the first team in the foreseeable future. This tournament is a good stage for them, but there are also those who have already made the move to Europe or have taken a permanent place in the lineup in Brazil's top teams - and this is just as important.
Everything passes through him. Santos (Photo: GettyImages)
In midfield, the game usually goes through Andrei Santos, who was signed by Chelsea back in January, but stayed at Vasco da Gama for the first few months to gain valuable experience – and also to avoid further burdening the monstrous squad at Stamford Bridge. It can be said that he was lucky when Vasco was relegated to the second division in 2021, because it allowed him to be thrown straight into the lineup last year, and he was a key player in the team's rise back to its natural place.
Marlon Gomes, who plays alongside him in the middle of the pitch, is a little less publicized in Brazil and Europe, and he does not yet have a place in the Vasco line-up, but he is a very talented player who has recently been mentioned as a candidate for Milan. The big advantage is that they cooperate in the club, and this caused coach Ramon Menezes to decide to team them together with the national team as well. It is the excellent mutual understanding that drives the Brazilian midfield, and when everything works well, the quality attacking tools can also be used effectively.
The main star in the squad is Marcos Leonardo, Santos' central striker who scored 13 goals in the Brazilian league last season and attracted interest from many prestigious teams in Europe. He is a versatile player with high self-confidence, and he was the one who upgraded the self-confidence of his teammates after the stumble against Italy in the first game. The Seleção conceded a trio in the first half, but Marcus Leonardo made sure to shrink to 3-2 with a pair, and immediately afterwards declared: "I have no doubt that we will win the gold medals." Since then, he has added two goals to the collection, one goal behind the tournament's current top scorer, Italy's Cesare Casadai.
It is also important to pay attention to Saviño, who was not in the starting line-up against Italy, but was responsible for a fundamental change when he came on as a substitute, and has since become an important player in the right-wing formation. His senior experience is sparse, because he was sold to Europe last summer before he even took his place in the Atletico Mineiro line-up, and so far he has only a few games on loan with Eindhoven's reserve team in the Dutch second division, but he trained a lot with PSV's first team under the guidance of Ruud van Nistelrooy, and his ticket belongs to Manchester City. More precisely, technically he is currently embedded in French club Troyes, who have just been relegated to the second division, but practically this club belongs to the international concern of the sheikhs of Abu Dhabi, and Saviño's goal is to eventually reach Pep Guardiola's team.
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Sweeping up his friends. Leonardo (Photo: GettyImages)
Another interesting player who came on as a substitute against Italy and proved myself is Marquinhos, who was not supposed to be in the original squad, but was called up due to the absence of other players, scored a very important goal in the critical 0-2 victory over Nigeria that ensured qualification to the eighth final, and in general impressed with his daring and creative dribbling. He grew up in São Paulo, was sold to Arsenal a year ago for €30 million, and made a positive impression in a number of loan appearances at Norwich City in the Premier League.
If everything comes together for these guys, Israel's defense and midfield will not be easy to stop, but there are also encouraging aspects that allow one to dream of a sensation on a global scale and reaching the semi-finals at the expense of the Seleção.
First, two key players will be absent due to suspensions - defender Robert Renan, who was sent off in the encounter against Tunisia, and right-back Arthur, who suffered a second yellow card in the tournament. This is important both directly, meaning that their absence greatly undermines the stability of the Seleção's back four, and substantially – because the unnecessary offenses they committed are also indicative of the attitude of their teammates. Brazil play with a high defensive back, which could expose them to outbursts, while the lack of discipline and sophistication at the back causes players to commit too many fouls. Ofir Haim's mission is to locate holes in this makeshift rear, and quickly send the bullets to the blind spots.
Will the audience get in on the action? Brazil celebrates (Photo: GettyImages)
Secondly, there is considerable ambiguity in the goalkeeper's position. Mikael, who played in the group stage and was responsible for conceding one of the goals against Italy after a very poor exit for a beam ball, was not fit for the encounter against Tunisia in the eighth final. The other goalkeeper, Keika, replaced him and did a decent job - and now the coach faces the dilemma of who to choose in the quarter-finals. Either way, neither has experience in senior teams, and could be a significant weak point.
Third, alongside the obvious advantages of holding the tournament in neighboring Argentina, there is also a notable drawback - the local crowd does not sympathize with the Seleção and tends to cheer for the rivalry. In our case, even the blue and white colors of the hosts are very suitable for the colors of Israel's shirts, and this may provide a boost especially if the game starts on the left foot in terms of the Salsão. The final conclusion - it should be very difficult, but there is no reason to raise a white flag before the opening whistle, let alone after all the drama our team has already gone through. With a lot of ability, a lot of faith and a little luck, it's possible.
- World Football
- Brazil national junior team