Teamwork makes the dream work

World Cup stars – Brazil’s Neymar, Argentina’s Messi shine

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South America’s 4 World Cup-bound squads — Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Ecuador — all performed friendlies on Monday as they put together for Qatar.

Brazil and Uruguay earned respective wins over groups that can even be on the World Cup (5-1 over Tunisia and 2-0 over Canada) whereas Ecuador performed a scoreless draw with Qatar-bound Japan. Argentina, in the meantime, had a convincing 3-0 win over Jamaica.

Bearing in mind their performances, we reply a key query for every CONMEBOL aspect as their preparation for the sport’s greatest stage continues.

Can issues be going too effectively for Brazil?

Tunisia had not conceded a purpose in seven video games — after which they got here up in opposition to Brazil in Paris. Up by 4 by halftime because of Raphinha (two objectives), Richarlison, and Neymar, the Brazilians completed with an emphatic 5-1 win following Pedro‘s very good shot within the 74th minute.

All the pieces goes proper for Brazil. Each tactical formation utilized by coach Tite — he now has used three totally different setups — appears to work. Each participant he brings in appears to hit the bottom operating. Photographs hit the put up and go in, attackers are performed narrowly onside. And after his penalty conversion in opposition to Tunisia, Neymar is simply two objectives shy of matching Pele’s mark of 77.

Since dropping within the last of the Copa America in the midst of final yr, Brazil have received 12, drawn three and misplaced none, with 38 scored and simply 5 conceded. It’s a fabulous report, achieved with a mode that justifiably makes them favourites to carry the trophy house from Qatar. However World Cups should not received with a succession of romps. Even the 1970 aspect needed to overcome some issues alongside the way in which, particularly in opposition to England and Uruguay. The 2002 staff have been lucky to not be overwhelmed by Belgium.

Really victorious groups should play their means by way of the hardest challenges — one thing that Brazil haven’t needed to do over the previous yr. They’re clearly a lot improved since dropping to Argentina within the last of the 2021 Copa America, with a far better vary of attacking choices. However it’s value remembering how they misplaced that recreation — going behind after a defensive error after which making it tougher for themselves to get again within the recreation as a consequence of foolishly changing into concerned in spats and rows when they need to have been holding the ball rolling. The aspect would appear to have greatness in its grasp. Whether or not potential turns into actuality would possibly rely upon the emotional management of the staff when the going will get powerful.

What’s going to we do with out Messi (and can Argentina modify)?

It’s solely doable that in three month’s time the worldwide profession of Lionel Messi might be over. It needn’t be the case. He’s clearly having fun with himself with Argentina, so he might stick with it. However a sixth World Cup would certainly be asking an excessive amount of. There isn’t any means spherical it. The top is coming. What on earth are we going to do with out him?

Extra particularly, what are Argentina going to do? Coach Lionel Scaloni is perhaps excited about it. Final Friday in opposition to Honduras he gave debuts off the bench to a few gamers — centre again Nahuel Perez, central midfielder Enzo Fernandez and attacking midfielder Thiago Almada. These gamers may not play a lot of a job within the World Cup, in the event that they go in any respect. However they’ll have an element to play in the way forward for the aspect — on that dreadful day when Messi might be no extra.

There was a sneak preview in New Jersey on Tuesday night time, when Messi didn’t begin the 3-0 win in opposition to Jamaica. The excellent news was that Argentina took comfy management with out him. The higher information was a purpose from Julian Alvarez, a participant with an excellent deal to supply within the years to return. And the even higher information for the capability crowd at Crimson Bull Enviornment was that Messi got here on early within the second half. The sport appeared to be drifting till he struck two splendidly effectively taken late objectives to seal the win and ship the followers house pleased.

It’s now 35 video games unbeaten for Argentina, and one of the vital fascinating facets of this newest triumph was that they ended it with a 3 centre again formation — Lisando Martinez coming off the bench to play on the left of a trio with Nicolas Otamendi within the center and Cristian Romero on the proper. Scaloni might have half a watch on a post-Messi future. However his focus is clearly on Qatar, and it was fascinating to see him experiment with a formation that he would possibly use as a shock in the middle of the World Cup.

To 4-4-2 or to not 4-4-2? That’s Uruguay’s query.

There are lower than two months to go and Uruguay coach Diego Alonso would possibly nonetheless be confused about how his staff goes to line up within the World Cup. The usual formation for the previous couple of years has been 4-4-2, with the attacking spearhead of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Now they’re ageing it’s unlikely that the pair might be used collectively. However even when they have been firing on all cylinders, there may be strain within the ranks to strive one thing else.

Uruguay now have a fantastic era of midfielders, who’re most likely higher suited to different methods. They could be at their greatest with the trio within the centre of the pitch, with Matias Vecino anchoring between Federico Valverde and Rodrigo Bentancur. That was how they began in opposition to Iran final Friday, with Darwin Nunez up entrance on the left of an attacking three. It didn’t swimsuit Nunez, and Uruguay reverted again to the 4-4-2. However as quickly as they made the change, and took off Vecino, they conceded the sport’s lone purpose.

On Tuesday in opposition to Canada they as soon as extra lined up in a 4-4-2 with Nunez and Suarez up entrance. Nunez helped his trigger by sealing a 2-0 win with a purpose. However with out the trio within the centre of the pitch Uruguay appeared extra weak defensively. They have been usually at full stretch holding out the Canadians, and would certainly have been punished by a stronger aspect. They ended the sport taking part in a lone striker, with playmakers Nico De La Cruz (who scored the primary purpose) and Giorgian de Arrascaeta working behind, a system that most likely fits these gamers higher.

So what to do? Can a staff with Suarez, Nunez and Cavani actually play only one up entrance? Is the stability of the aspect higher that means? Or will they go along with the tried and trusted two-man assault? Determination day is approaching for Alonso.

Is Ecuador’s glass half full or half empty?

5 straight video games with out conceding a single purpose, 5 consecutive clear sheets — a chunk of information to please any coach. However Ecuador boss Gustavo Alfaro is clearly involved that his aspect have solely scored twice in these video games — and performed out a second straight goalless draw, this time to Japan.

Subsequent time they take the sphere it should in opposition to World Cup hosts Qatar within the opening match. The eyes of the complete planet might be on Ecuador’s younger aspect as they kick off the entire event. The issue is that every one of Alfaro’s attacking gamers appear to have run off form on the identical time — confirmed in the direction of the tip of the Japan recreation when Ecuador have been a little bit lucky to be awarded a penalty, and all-time prime scorer Enner Valencia had his spot kick saved. Valencia is firing blanks, rangy centre ahead Michael Estrada is on a nasty run and Alfaro has not been satisfied by any of the alternate options.

However in fact, whereas they don’t seem to be conceding, they’re all the time within the recreation. And even with senior centre again Felix Torres out injured, the defending has largely been strong. Most of their issues have been self-inflicted — a slip or a poor cross out of defence fairly than failing to cope with the specter of the opposition. However the stage of opposition within the World Cup will certainly be larger, and the necessity for objectives might be better. Ecuador will discover out in November whether or not the glass is half full or half empty.

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