South America’s 4 World Cup-bound squads — Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Ecuador — have been in all in motion on Friday as they put together for Qatar. Whereas Brazil and Argentina had regarded the a part of match favourites, Uruguay and Ecuador proceed to be works in progress.
Bearing in mind their performances, we reply a key query for every CONMEBOL aspect as their preparation for the sport’s greatest stage continues.
Are we ready for a super-attacking Brazil?
Brazil coach Tite already has a Plan A and a Plan B — and in an exhilarating first half in opposition to Ghana in Le Havre, France, he unleashed an ultra-attacking Plan C which most likely labored even higher than he had hoped.
Over the previous 12 months his staff have grown accustomed to taking part in with two wingers — normally Raphinha on the appropriate and Vinicius Junior on the left, with Neymar floating as a false 9, linking up with attacking midfielder Lucas Paqueta. The variation has been to incorporate Richarlison as a centre ahead, dropping one of many wingers and utilizing Paqueta chopping in from one of many flanks.
However what if there was a approach to have each a centre ahead and two wingers? Now there’s. This time Paqueta fills the position of Fred, dropping deeper to play from central midfield. With him to the appropriate of Casemiro and Neymar to the left, there’s room for a entrance three forward of them. It signifies that Paqueta has to place in a defensive shift, however so does everybody. As quickly as they lose possession Brazil press collectively to win it again.
Ghana discovered it exhausting to work up any rhythm, and the few instances they managed to beat the press, the imperious Marquinhios was available to make use of his tempo and consciousness to snuff out the hazard. Brazil have been on their approach to the 3-0 win — and will have been extra — on the finish of a primary half that, in opposition to respectable opponents, was virtually absurdly one sided. Brazil’s assortment of attacking expertise handed holes in Ghana’s 4-1-4-1 formation, and entrance loading the staff didn’t depart the staff wanting weak.
This new formation won’t work for all conditions in opposition to all opponents. However it’s an choice that Brazil have added to their repertoire — one that may absolutely ship a shiver down their World Cup rivals.
Is that this Messi’s finest Argentina aspect?
By itself, Argentina’s 3-0 win over this Honduras aspect hardly qualifies anybody for greatness. However 34 video games unbeaten tells its personal story. And what was hanging was the totally predictable nature of the Argentine triumph in Miami.
Honduras introduced again reminiscences of an outclassed boxer developing in opposition to Muhammad Ali in his prime. They by no means got here near laying a glove on Argentina, whereas all night time their heads have been being snapped again as, patiently and with function, Argentina jabbed away, pulling them out of place and setting them up for the massive punch. Some may recall the 2006 aspect, eradicated on penalties by Germany within the quarterfinal, whereas a teenage Lionel Messi sat on the substitutes bench, unable to do something about it.
That staff revolved round playmaker Juan Ramon Riquelme. The main focus of this staff is slightly increased up the sector. With that midfield trio — Leandro Paredes taking part in the primary move ahead with high quality, Rodrigo De Paul including drive and modifications of rhythm and Giovani Lo Celso stroking the ball round with uncommon precision — Messi is introduced into the sport nearer to the opposing objective, in a zone of the sector from the place he can do one thing to unlock the opposing defence.
For a lot of his earlier time within the nationwide staff, Argentina have been a shambles. Plan A was to offer the ball to Messi and hope. Plan B was to offer the ball to Messi and hope. And there was no Plan C. Not now. This can be a aspect with an virtually hypnotic high quality about its possession-based recreation — they took the match away from Honduras within the first quarter-hour. It’s a staff that capabilities, and one which, in his fifth World Cup, may even give Messi his finest likelihood of successful the competitors.
Will Diego Alonso’s first loss unsettle Uruguay?
Since taking on as Uruguay coach on the finish of final 12 months, Diego Alonso had solely identified victory, plus a goalless draw in opposition to the United States in a June pleasant when he fielded a reserve aspect. He has now tasted defeat after his aspect misplaced 1-0 to Iran in Vienna on Friday. As he mentioned after the sport, there aren’t any grounds for despair — however he does have meals for thought.
In opposition to an opponent who dropped again deep and search for the counter assault, Uruguay defended nicely sufficient with a few centre-backs who have been making their debuts — an harm disaster within the place that bought worse when Ronald Araujo limped off within the opening minute. There have been clear benefits in fielding a pair of full-backs who might push ahead — it allowed the vast males within the 4-3-3 system to get into the penalty space. This was particularly vital for Darwin Nunez, whose lack of an efficient left foot was an issue when he was out on that flank. Nunez is unquestionably extra of a menace as a centre ahead, and if there’s solely area for one within the staff the Alonso might have an enormous choice to take.
Luis Suarez regarded nicely wanting his finest, and missed a few of the staff’s clearest possibilities. Uruguay ended up taking part in 4-4-2 with each Nunez and Suarez — a swap which, on the different finish, might have value them the sport (Edinson Cavani just isn’t with the squad as he settles in with new aspect Valencia). Uruguay performed a lot of the match with a trio within the centre of midfield, Matias Vecino holding whereas Rodrigo Bentancur and Federico Valverde regarded for area between the Iranian strains.
For the final twenty minutes Vecino was sacrificed as Alonso modified his system — and the one objective of the sport quickly adopted, the transfer originating within the area that Vecino was now not defending. Uruguay are absolutely at their finest with three within the center — which doesn’t make it simple for Alonso to squeeze in all of his attacking expertise.
The place will Ecuador’s objective from in Qatar?
Coaches are at all times happy with clear sheets, so after three video games with out conceding in June, Ecuador boss Gustavo Alfaro might take some consolation from a 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia within the Spanish city of Murcia. However the lack of objectives on the different finish was a disappointment to the area’s sizeable Ecuadorian neighborhood, and a trigger for concern for the coach. True, his staff have now gone 4 video games with out conceding — though Japan on Tuesday promise to supply a stiffer check.
However in these 4 matches Ecuador have solely discovered the again of the online twice. There have been instances in qualification when Ecuador have been a free scoring aspect, however the objectives have dried up. Alfaro might maybe take some consolation from the best way that his males created possibilities in numerous methods in opposition to the Saudis — thrusts of Gonzalo Plata from the appropriate, crosses of Pervis Estupinan from the left, by aggressive urgent in midfield, from set items performed into the field or lengthy balls excessive of the defence.
However the staff lacks a innovative. Ecuador ‘s all-time high scorer is the veteran Enner Valencia. He’s most likely happier chopping in from the left than working by the center, as he did on this recreation. And his objectives have a tendency to return in spurts. Alfaro has had a have a look at choices within the centre ahead place, however most likely can do no higher than the rangy Michael Estrada, the aspect’s high scorer in qualification, who got here off the bench in opposition to the Saudis however is unquestionably the favorite to steer the road in Qatar. All however certainly one of his six objectives got here within the first half of the qualifiers, and Ecuador want him to rediscover his finest type.