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Brazil's last chance to find answers in Abu Dhabi ahead of World Cup qualifiers

Rituraj Borkakoty/Abu Dhabi
Filed on November 18, 2019
Brazil coach Tite at a press conference at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday. (AFP)

Brazil will look to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to Argentina when they face South Korea in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday

After Friday's scrappy 'Superclasico' between bitter rivals Brazil and Argentina, an international friendly littered with fouls, ugly tackles and a touchline row between Brazil coach Tite and Argentina talisman Lionel Messi, the five-time world champions turn their attention to Asia's big boys South Korea.

Brazil lost the bragging rights against Argentina in Riyadh on Friday night as Messi's 13th minute goal helped 'La Albiceleste' avenge their Copa America semifinal defeat against their South American neighbours. 

That 1-0 defeat was also Brazil's fifth straight match without a victory since their Copa America triumph at home in July. 

With the South American qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup scheduled to start from March, 2020, Brazil will be desperate to end their poor run when Tite's men lock horns with South Korea, the 2002 World Cup semifinalists, in an international friendly at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday (5:30pm, UAE Time).

Having drawn their first match after Copa with Colombia (2-2) on September 7, Brazil lost their next international match to Peru (1-0) four days later.

Then the Samba Boys drew both of their October friendlies with African rivals Senegal (1-1) and Nigeria (1-1).

These results have surprised the pundits because even without the injured Neymar, Brazil have the weapons to hurt any team. They had already shown it at the Copa America on home soil by winning their ninth South American title without the PSG superstar.

But in a tournament that failed to produce top-class football, Brazil were obviously too strong for their opponents on home soil.

Their Copa triumph was a reward for Tite's excellent work from the dugout.  The former Al Ain coach changed Brazil's fortunes since taking over in June, 2016. Sitting precariously outside the qualifying zone, Brazil were in danger of slipping away and missing out on a World Cup berth for the first time in history.

But they went on to win seven straight South American qualifying games under Tite to book their tickets for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Now, the 58-year-old coach is facing the biggest challenge as national team manager as Brazil look to make a positive start in the grueling South American qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup that begin next year. For that to happen, they need to get it right against South Korea in Abu Dhabi in what will their last international match before the start of the World Cup qualifiers.

One of the reasons behind their recent problems is Tite's inability to get the best out of Liverpool's Brazilian striker Roberto Firmino who has the freedom to drop deep under Jurgen Klopp at Anfield.

But in Brazil colours, Tite wants Firmino to be the lead attacker. And the 28-year-old striker lacks the physicality to be a 'fox in the box'.

Now, the South Korea game in Abu Dhabi offers Tite the last chance to find the right position for one of his brightest talents. But keeping the Koreans' highly-organised defensive system in mind, Brazil fans could expect another frustrating evening for their players.

rituraj@khaleejtimes.com 

 


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