The most unusual soccer World Cup in history, Qatar 2022 starts today.
However horrible the timing of the Mundial may seem, the fact that the event is taking place in the middle of an European club season makes it epoch and fascinating. Players that are lucky to be part of this one will be in tip top condition, hence the fans will have a lot of watching to do in the next few weeks.
Over the next few days, I will be looking at "favourites" for this tournament.
First, let's start with the Samba Boys, Brazil
The most complete team going into this one. Tite has finally found a balance with this team, with a general structure of low to mid block, forcing opponents to play to the side before choosing to aggressively press hence forcing mistakes.
With the ball, Brazil looks like a 4-3-3 system, without the ball, 4-4-2. They do not commit themselves to pressing their opponents in the initial build up. This is very important as they chose the moment to do so intelligently.
The most crucial component of this team is Neymar Jnr. He plays as a false 10 with freedom to roam across the middle to final third and serves as the link between the midfield and the attack. In order to balance Neymar's lack of defensive effort, they've got Fred, Paqueta, Casemiro, all of whom are comfortable winning the ball back.
Paqueta in particular is crucial as he tends to form a shadow for Neymar, taking up positions that Neymar vacates and creating numerical advantage when needed. The team as whole defend as a unit (they've only conceded 9 goals in 30 games). They will be very difficult to stop.
Despite all this, there's a little concern. Brazil are going into this tournament with 9 attackers (including Neymar) and only 2 of the remaining 8 attackers can play alongside Neymar in the starting line up. For me Vinicius is A MUST! But Tite can be very pragmatic, so there's a possibility of going with Raphinha and Richarlison.
Tite may also be tempted to have Neymar as an attacking midfielder and playing 3 of his forwards. This will make him sacrifice one of Paqueta or Fred. Against a smart team, this may backfire in a bad way.
Secondly, Brazil will be coming up against European teams whose players used to opponents pressing them exactly the way Brazil will do. Players from Bayern munich(German players) are particularly used to this. Interestingly, these European guys are so smart and knows exactly how to bypass this press. It will be interesting to see how Brazil overcome such teams during the later phase of this competition.
Overall, Brazil are a very compact side. They boast of talents all over the pitch and if well harnessed by Tite, they should go all the way and lift this trophy.