It also works without Neymar (

Casemiro organizes Brazil’s midfield. He even scored the goal of the day against Switzerland.

Photo: imago/Marcio Machado

As goalscorer Casemiro rose from the podium in the media room, he said goodbye to Tite, who was sitting next to him, with a mixture of politeness and warmth, as if he would not see his coach again for years. But the defensive midfielder forgot his trophy, the red trophy for the player of the match. Casemiro turned back before pulling away with the award, leaving the stage to his coach and his assistant, Cesar Sampaio.

It was now a question of explaining Brazil’s premature qualification to the round of 16 at the World Cup in Qatar by beating Switzerland 1-0, as well as the Seleção’s skills and prospects in this tournament. The result was sentences that testified to the great self-confidence of the title favorite: »Today the team that has developed over four years won. Progress has won,” Tite announced, referring to the last World Cup in Russia 2018, where Brazil lost to Belgium in the quarter-finals. But now they feel a lot better. “We have a lot of individual skills,” Tite said.

His assistant Sampaio even tried to borrow from chess. As with the thinking game, you have to “analyze all the pieces before the moves are set,” he said, and found that he had done well against Switzerland. This is where the chess analogy apparently ends, because as far as the pieces, i.e. the players are concerned, there are many ways to simply exchange them. Like on Monday evening in Doha, when the injured Neymar had to be replaced, among other things. For Brazil, it was also about demonstrating that his absence and that of right-back Danilo would not have a major impact on the team’s performance.

The Seleção no longer feel so dependent on Neymar as they had already won the 2019 Copa America without him. The world title is more difficult to win, but at least temporarily it should be possible without the superstar. That was the message. Tite also announced that Neymar would return very soon. His ankle has now swollen a bit, as Neymar himself documented with photos. From the hotel bed, the 30-year-old watched his colleagues struggle against the Swiss. He later tweeted congratulations for Casemiro, who scored in the 83rd minute to win. Casemiro, according to Neymar, is the best defensive midfielder in the world anyway.

Extremely organized, the Swiss had held up well for a long time after their team bus suffered minor body damage on the way to the stadium due to a rear-end collision with the police escort. Just one notable scoring chance from Vinícius Júnior was created by Brazil in over an hour of play. Legends like Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Cafu shook their heads in the stands. And when Vinicius Júnior actually scored with the second big chance in the 64th minute, the goal was disallowed for offside after review. But then Casemiro provided salvation with a right-footed shot. But what Tite later said on the podium when it came to Neymar also applied to the 30-year-old: “The team is the star.” With this attitude, the Brazilians believe they can go far in Qatar.

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