Brazil and Tite strike against Croatia in World Cup quarter-finals


Al-Rayyan, Queue — When marquinhos jog and kiss the ball forward Brazil4th penalty kick neymar Was down on his knees in midfield. It looked like he was sobbing, like this moment was too big to take in. Marquinhos would score either way, which meant Neymar would be up front, carrying the bulk of 190 million Brazilians with him. Or he will miss and Neymar’s World Cup will be over.

Croatia keeper dominik livkovich Goes one way, Marquinhos shoots the other way… and kisses the post, takes a backseat to the goal line.

Brazil were knocked out of the World Cup, losing on penalties to a Croatia side who have now won four straight penalty shoot-outs. Neymar, who remained on the pitch crying in the arms of teammates, knew that although it might not be his last World Cup, it was probably his last as a hero at the age of 30.

Brazil coach Tite, as is his custom in these situations, disappeared from the tunnel regardless of whether his team won or lost. And maybe he was thinking of doors slamming, of decisions not made, of roads not traveled that never quit. Seleção Spotkicks facing off against Croatia. It was possibly his last shot at the World Cup – “the cycle is over” he said afterwards – and he knew that in a world of second guessers, the buck would stop with him.

To be fair, there’s plenty to second-guess Brazil about in this game and plenty to question when Tite showed almost limitless faith in his men and his system. To The Archer by Khalil GibranAll a coach can do is aim the arrow and let it fly. If the arrow is crooked, if there is wind or rain or if the enemy’s armor is strong, it will miss its mark. But this too will fail if the archer’s hand is shaky or his aim is wrong.

On this day, even seasoned veterans like Tite, one of the best in the world at their job, saw their hands trembling.

“Sometimes we hit straight and the ball doesn’t fly straight,” he said after the game. Except, truth be told, it didn’t seem like he shot straight this time either.

Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic got it right ahead of the match when he said Brazil could “suffer” against teams that can keep the ball, which is their formidable midfield. luka modric, Marcelo Brozovic And Mateo Kovacic Certainly can (and did). Croatia in possession – like a midfielder mario pasalikThat, in turn a winger, also helped their 4-3-3 – which is no small feat against Brazil, perhaps the most technically gifted side at the World Cup.

Dalić said after the match, “I said it before the game and I say it again now.” “We have the best midfield in the world and we demonstrated it again today. We controlled the game.”

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But Tite stuck to his point. Four in front of him Rafinha And Vinicius Wide, richardson top and Neymar stuck right back — stayed on top of the pitch, going casemiro And lucas paqueta Out-man in the middle of the park. The result was that not only did Croatia see too much of the ball – and when the opposition had the ball, you couldn’t score – but they were able to set the kind of soft pace that suited them and their thirty-something Modric. , some stars like Brozovic, Ivan Perisic And dejan lauren To stay physically and athletically in the game, he played on after 120 minutes (plus penalties). Japan,

Brazil, on the other hand, had minimal effort in their round of 16 against South Korea — They were up 4-0 at half time — and it was clear that the pace would have to be up and Croatia would have to chase them. Instead, so much of the initiative lay with Dalík’s men, with Brazil’s content relying on individual moments. It’s a game plan that has served them well so far in Qatar – when you have so much talent, it only takes a moment to score – but it felt like it was an unnecessary risk. Because where Brazil had a chance, they were interspersed with unnecessarily long stretches of Croatian possession.

The front four, plus Lucas Paqueta, the attacker, and the back four, plus Alison, The rescue plan was not yielding results. For most of the match, Neymar was indifferent, Vinicius ethereal, Rafinha AWOL and Richardson under-served.

In those situations, you either adjust your strategy, perhaps going tighter in the middle of the park so you can get more balls or you simply change your personnel up front. Tite chose the latter. First Rafinha, then Vinicius and then Richardson made way Antoine, rodrigo And pedro respectively. The soloist, Neymar, didn’t change, nor did the song sheet; Choir only. what else? The song remained the same.

Even as Croatia began to tire and Brazil created chances, the game still felt in limbo… and then came the moment when Tite must have felt vindicated as Brazil took the lead after the first period of extra time. Finally took the lead. Most Brazilian goals, converted by most of their Brazilian players.

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Despite his great goal, Ale Moreno was not impressed with Neymar’s performance against Croatia.

Neymar received the ball and forced his way past the Croatian defence, doing a one-two with Rodrigo and then with Paqueta before Livacovic rounded off to make it 1–0. It was his 77th goal to equalize for Brazil. Pelenational team record and from his hospital bed, you can imagine King nodding in approval. The Brazilian bench empties out and surrounds a celebrating Neymar in the corner. The entire team celebrated, except for two players: Thiago Silva Hung back in his penalty area, fingers pointing skyward, thanking God, while Casemiro lay on the pitch feeling a mixture of relief and exhaustion.

It was almost as if those two great giants suspected something that the others did not: namely, that it was not over. Truth be told, it’s never against Croatia – not until the whistle blows three times. and so, when josco guardiolK Tackle cited a Croatian counterattack that quickly – and inexplicably – turned into a 3-on-3, and substitute Mislav Orsik found substitute bruno petkovich Into the box, and he curled a big left boot through the ball, and it ended up beyond Alisson and into the back of the net, suddenly we were level.

That’s football, a crazy game that turns a dime. One where the burly Petkovic — Croatia’s Mr. Bump, who until then had mostly seen the ball bounce off his limbs — could suddenly turn into an unlikely hero. One where the pace can swing so fast that as the players lined up for the shootout, it was Brazil who looked stone-faced and fearful while Croatia, chest puffed out, looked like they were about to seize the opportunity. Were missing. One where Tite, with all his aggressive wealth, could stumble at worst and be left contemplating the wrong decisions.

From his approach – which handed Croatia the key – to his replacement – ​​who retained that approach and simply changed personnel – to the fact that Brazil conceded on a counter when they were three minutes away from reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup. Were, one of the great cardinal sins of football. And if you want to save your best penalty taker, Neymar, for the fifth penalty that never came. (The Dalek, who is all-four in the shootout, couldn’t resist saying: “I would have used him sooner.”)

a football coach does a lot No control, and there is no doubt that Tite will be remembered as one of Brazil’s greatest ever coaches. But on this day, he fell into the trap that coaches, in any sport, often fall into. He showed a lot of faith in his players, a lot of faith in his choices, a lot of faith in what got him there. And now he will have to live with the regret, as will Neymar and all of Brazil. And one day, maybe, they’ll get over it.

Tite said after the match, “We are all responsible to some extent, but I think I am the most responsible.” “But there are no such things as heroes and villains in sports. You share joy and you share sorrow.”

As far as Croatia are concerned, two straight World Cup semi-finals speak for themselves. The stellar midfield may grab the headlines, while his composure and toughness could be the envy of other teams, but this was a match that, above all, saw him out-will and out-pass as much as he thought about the opposition .

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