There are few teams in world football that are held to the high standard that the Brazilian national team are. They are not only expected to compete and win every competition they are in but to do so with a style and flair unique to their brand of football. Tournament failures have made the weight of these expectations grow even heavier in recent years. Brazil’s trophy drought has reached a full decade, with the 2009 Confederations Cup being the last silverware they lifted.
Brazil’s Trophy Drought Should End at the Copa America Final
They will look to add to their eight Copa America titles with a victory over Peru on Sunday. Brazil is also hosting the competition this summer, so that adds to the pressure on their shoulders. They have not won this competition since 2007, having failed to even reach the semi-finals in 2011, 2015, and 2016. Brazil defeated rival Argentina 2-0 midweek, sending them back to the finals.
Next Man Up
The nation’s biggest star has not been available this summer. Neymar picked up an injury and has not participated in the Copa America. If Brazil’s trophy drought is to end this Sunday, one of their other high profile European league stars will need to step up. Philippe Coutinho had a disappointing season with Barcelona, but has found his form this summer. He has two goals and an assist in five matches. The spark he can bring to the pitch seems to be back for the diminutive midfielder. He has looked confident and creative in attack.
Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino has also raised his performance level. His two goals and three assists have him in line for the competition’s Golden Boot award. He scored one and assisted the other in the 2-0 semi-final victory. Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus was having a poor showing in this competition until last match. He scored the opener before unselfishly setting up Firmino to punch their ticket to Sunday’s final. Each of these players has seen the highest levels of success for their clubs, now they look to etch their names in Brazil’s storied history.
These summertime international competitions often give players a chance to get noticed. Each year a player takes advantage of the opportunity to catch the eye of a bigger club or a bigger league in hopes of a move. Brazil’s 23-year-old Everton Soares is doing just that these past few weeks. Currently, he plies his trade for Gremio in his home country. With his exciting performances in this Copa America, he could be in line for a big move to Europe in the coming months.
Everton is also the type of player his countrymen yearn to watch in the iconic yellow kits. He has a variety of skills, tricks, and moves in his arsenal. The forward plays with flair and personality and is not afraid to challenge defenders one-v-one. He also showed his goal-scoring prowess with a brilliant curling shot in the first group stage match.
Clean Sheet Streak
While this country is known for its creative, exciting, and inventive football, their stingy defence has stood out in the Copa America. They head to the final with five consecutive clean sheets, having not allowed a goal in the competition. Goalkeeper Alisson Becker has continued the brilliant form he showed at his club this past season. He has made some crucial saves this tournament, including one in the quarter-final penalty shootout.
The back line has also performed well. National team veterans Thiago Silva, Felipe Luis, and Dani Alves have keep chance limited for opponents. They held a talented Argentina in check, only allowing two shots on goal. Alex Sandro has rotated with Luis at left back, while Silva’s club teammate Marquinhos lines up beside him in the centre. The defence has been organized, and Alves has been a threat in the attack.
Standing in the Way
If Brazil’s trophy drought is to end this Sunday, they will have to beat Peru for the second time in this tournament. They looked dominant in a 5-0 victory during the group stage. Casemiro opened the scoring in the 12th minute, as five different players found the back of the net. Peru are coming off their best performance of this Copa America with a 3-0 victory over defending champions Chile. With the group stage drubbing still fresh, Peru will likely look to pack it in defensively and force Brazil to break them down. The hosts have to remain patient and be wary of Peru’s pace on the counter.
In comparison to the nation’s footballing history, it has been far too long since Brazilians have had a title to celebrate. That decade of waiting should end on Sunday afternoon. Brazil has been the best team in this tournament, and the trophy is theirs to take.