Brazil not just about Neymar: Maradona | The Daily Star
10:48 PM, June 17, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:55 PM, June 17, 2018

Brazil not just about Neymar: Maradona

In Bangladesh, it is hard to believe that one can be an Argentina supporter and say a kind word about Brazil, or vice versa. But on Sunday, writing in the Times of India, no less a figure than Argentine 1986 World Cup-winning legend and arguably the greatest of all time, Diego Maradona, was generous in his praise of his one-time South American rivals. 

While many expect Brazil’s fate to swing to the tune of Neymar’s performances, Maradona saw the presence of coach Tite as a major reason why the five-time world champions may go far this time in Russia. 

"The talk about Brazil is revolving around their impressive run under coach Tite. Since he became manager two years ago, our South American neighbours have won 17 of 21 matches, with only a solitary defeat. This record looks better when you take into account just five goals conceded against 47 scored," Maradona wrote.

"There is another record I expect them to remember. It was against European teams that their defensive frailties were exposed in 2014. With Tite at the helm, they have won friendlies against Russia, Germany and Croatia recently. Even though the Germans tested reserves, Brazil looked good in these games. Not just Neymar, they have quality in other parts as well. Sterner tests await them with Switzerland, Serbia and Costa Rica in the group."

While it is no secret that Brazil bring all the flair and style in the world to their attacking game, Maradona turned the spotlight on the massive improvement in their defence under Tite. 

"The important improvement under Tite has been in the defensive mechanism. He was quick to identify the problem and recent stats show that they are not leaking goals. Thiago Silva and Marquinhos are solid in central defence, with Miranda as an able back-up. Marcelo has been excellent for Real Madrid. Right-back is the only weak spot in the absence of the injured Dani Alves. Man City’s Danilo should replace him, so overall, the defence looks good. It's important to defend in the midfield and this is where Casemiro has been key," Maradona added.

As far as Brazil’s opponents, Maradona was not writing them off. 

"Experience tells me European teams are tough nuts to crack on the big stage. Not all of them possess outstanding technical ability or skill, but make up for it with systematic play. They are temperamentally equipped to play a waiting game. Switzerland is a good example.

"Even then, Switzerland’s task is daunting. Brazil will most probably go 4-3-3, with variations as per requirement. Neymar and Coutinho will attack the wingbacks, with Jesus or Firmino inside the box looking for goals. They form an awesome attack, where everyone including the top star is in form. It’s difficult to keep them quiet for 90 minutes.”


Leave your comments