Can Brazil flip turmoil into alternative as Argentina go to the Maracana?
Eternal photos, the adulation of the world, a fairytale story full and the World Cup trophy lofted overhead. Once, these chapters and pages appeared to belong to Brazil at worldwide stage, nearly completely at instances, it felt.
No longer. It’s over 20 years for the reason that Selecao triumphed on the world stage and now, even worse, it was their biggest rivals who shared their very own ecstasy and jubilation with the planet, their biggest rivals who now come knocking on the door of the Maracana, champions of the world and buoyant with optimism for what lies forward.
Argentina, with Lionel Messi, lastly seems like a mission accomplished. But that doesn’t imply their story is over; simultaneous holders of each world and continental titles, they’ll be aiming to write down extra historical past subsequent summer season as they bid to turn into the primary South American nation to ever retain the Copa America whereas additionally being World Cup champions. The solely group to essentially come shut was, in fact, Brazil: Copa winners in 1997 and 1999, they reached the ultimate of France’ 98 in between however misplaced out to the hosts.
If all of it seems like the proper second for Brazil to rise in opposition to the chances, knock their rivals down a peg and reestablish themselves as Conmebol’s largest group…nicely, it’s true in principle, however there are additional layers of issue given the context of this encounter.
For starters, this 2026 World Cup qualifier takes place on the scene of Argentina’s first win on this cycle: the Maracana, the place they beat Brazil 1-0 within the 2021 Copa remaining. Add in a attract qualifying for Qatar 2022 and the reverse fixture being cancelled, and it’s nicely over 4 years since Brazil final beat Argentina.
In extra instantly regarding issues, the Selecao have received simply two of 5 qualifying matches this time round, are lacking Neymar, Vinicius Jr and Richarlison by way of damage in assault and a bunch extra defensively, together with captain Casemiro, Man City goalkeeper Ederson and Real Madrid centre-back Eder Militao.
In brief, Brazil are in one thing of a large number, with no simple manner out.
Even so, there’s little cause for panic in World Cup phrases; six out of the ten Conmebol nations will routinely qualify with one other reaching the playoffs; it’s powerful to think about Brazil lacking out both manner, although there’s already an awkward-looking hole of 5 factors between themselves and their rivals, after simply 5 rounds of the 18 complete to play.
To repair a lot of this, it naturally falls to the top coach of the day, Fernando Diniz. He is within the midst of a wildly uncommon time: the best of successes at membership stage alongside these struggles on the worldwide scene, whereas additionally solely in a short-term function. Diniz, who received the Copa Libertadores with Fluminense lately, has a contract up till summer season, when it’s extensively anticipated Carlo Ancelotti will take over forward of the Copa America itself.
But earlier than then Diniz must get Brazil again on monitor from a tactical and technical perspective, even when outcomes don’t instantly come in opposition to Argentina or, in a March pleasant, England. That naturally turns into tougher with such damage absences: Vinicius has turn into a a lot greater a part of the group, Militao was their finest centre-back in kind phrases and Neymar’s standing stays huge even when his sport has lengthy since dropped off from its highest factors.
Others, together with Antony, Emerson Royal and Renan Lodi appear to be elements of the squad who’re out and in relying on availability, but by no means a part of the best-fit plan and barely actually wanting of the required stage anyway. There’s work to be completed, significantly by way of central midfield, and his time with the squad will run down quick.
Diniz could be taking a longer-term view by way of recovering Brazil’s pleasure round taking part in the sport, however a short-term appointment he stays and nationwide protection of the Selecao – significantly in opposition to this rival – will solely ever stay involved concerning the right here and now. It is not going to go down nicely if they’re hammered on house soil, no matter which foundations are being laid.
And but, regardless of all these points, we’ve seen Brazil bounce again from adversity earlier than. We’ve seen Argentina fail from a place of energy, come to that.
Football, being the loopy and changeable sport that it’s, has a behavior of seeing groups rise within the face of improbability – and the dearth of jeopardy that La Albiceleste face from this match in isolation may solely add to that.
Argentina’s nice wait is over. Their largest chapter is rewritten, their biggest hero had his second and the reformation of the facet, their type and the mixing of recent gamers to kind the beginnings of their subsequent group, is completed.
Brazil are nonetheless looking for these first steps to take. Perhaps they’ll unexpectedly achieve this right here, on this stadium, simply because the Maracana was the stage for his or her rivals to take an infinite certainly one of their very own nearly two-and-a-half years in the past.