World Cup | Brazil – Croatia | How Vinicius Junior became the number one danger

Everyone is free to grant credibility, or not, to the “man of the match” trophies distributed during this World Cup. Coincidence or not, the three Brazilians who have received one of these awards since the start of the competition are also three of the essentials of the Seleção: richarlison, casemiro, Neymar. Of all the four matches played by the Auriverde team, none of these was however as crucial as Vinicius Junior. In three matches, the Real Madrid winger has become the real danger of an attacking front that is full of talent.
Yet it was not sewn with white thread. A few weeks ago, Vinicius was not sure of advancing in the tournament with a starting status. Tite and his obsession with balance didn’t make his life any easier, and there was a long gap between who he had become at club level and his role in the national team. “Its maturation in Madrid lasted two yearswhispered the coach duringan interview with Marca last April. In selection, it goes much faster. And he was not playing with his nature. The times he came into play, it was not smooth, like in Copa America.”

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Not tender but convinced of the potential of the man, Tite ended up becoming proactive in his development and his adaptation to the Seleção. First by detecting what had ended up making him much more successful at Real. “The club works with three men in the middle who sometimes compensate on the left sidehe pointed out a year ago. It allows Vinicius to become a second attacker, in a more advanced position. Sometimes he is even the most forward player when Benzema picks up. In selection, we do not use this system.”

Tite and the phone calls to Ancelotti

This did not prevent the coach from multiplying the phone calls with Carlo Ancelotti, in order to identify the tactical aspects favorable to “Vini” which could be transposed into selection. “We talked about attacking situations that would give him more creative freedom, one-on-oneadded Tite. It’s great that two coaches act together and transparently to get the best out of a player..”

Still, the winger had to follow the process. “For me it was normalassured the gifted 22-year-old at a press conference on Wednesday. I always lacked something to be a starter in the selection. And there are a lot of great players. Tite and Ancelotti gave me a lot of advice to help me impose myself” But in the mind of the Brazilian technician, the final of the Copa America 2021, lost against Argentina with a conservative team, also served as a trigger. Brazil could once again enjoy attacking talents in cluster. The moment had come to move the slider a little further forward.

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From now on, the Auriverde selection will evolve with two real wingers alongside Richarlison. Neymar moves back a notch, sometimes in the number eight position with another attacking midfielder – most often Paqueta, when adversity allows it – sometimes as a real playmaker, in front of a more reassuring double pivot (Casemiro and Fred). On the left, Vinicius to play. “I was in training, I went to see Vini and I said to him: ‘You are the Neymar from 2014′”told Tite in the podcast sixth star [sixième étoile, NDLR].

Vinicius involved in five of Brazil’s seven goals

In reality, perhaps he is much more exposed than Neymar was eight years ago. Because the game has evolved considerably and the leveling of selection football has made wingers much more important. FIFA Development Director Arsene Wenger revealed that there were 83% more actions from the sides, compared to 2018. The axis is totally locked, especially by nations with less strong individuals. And guess which are the two Brazilians who have distributed the most key passes (passes leading to a goal opportunity) since the start of the World Cup? Raphinha and Vinicius. Eight each.

Vinicius disturbed in a press conference by a surprising guest

The second also and above all stands out for his ability to eliminate one or more players, by dribbling for speed. He also benefits from an Auriverde game that leans to the left, both thanks to the presence of a real side (Danilo in 8th, while Militao was his counterpart on the right) and the natural positioning of Neymar. His progress in the last gesture and in front of the goal, materialized by a remarkable 2021/2022 season – 21 goals and 20 assists combined in La Liga and C1 – did the rest.

Since the start of the World Cup, he has been directly involved in five of Brazil’s seven goals, and participates in an average of one goal every 39 minutes. In this World Cup, Brazil’s game is alive and well. With the weapon on the left.

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