The four South American teams heading to the World Cup – Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Ecuador – all played friendlies on Monday in preparation for Qatar.
Brazil and Uruguay scored respective victories against teams that would also take part in the World Cup (5-1 over Tunisia and 2-0 over Canada), while Ecuador played a goalless draw against Qatar-bound Japan. Meanwhile, Argentina won a convincing victory over Jamaica with a score of 3:0.
With their performances in mind, we are answering a key question for each side of CONMEBOL as they continue to prepare for the most important phase of the game.
Can things go too much good for brazil?
Tunisia didn’t concede a single goal in seven games and then they faced Brazil in Paris. Thanks to Rafinha (two goals), Richarlison and Neymar, the Brazilians increased the lead by four at half-time, and in the 74th minute the Brazilians won a confident victory with a score of 5:1 after a magnificent strike by Pedro.
Everything is going right for Brazil. Every tactic used by coach Tite – now he has used three different ones – seems to work. It seems that every player he invites immediately jumps into action. Shots hit the post and go inside, the attackers play in a narrow flank. And after converting a penalty in the match with Tunisia, Neymar was only two goals short of Pelé’s mark of 77.
Since losing the Copa América final in the middle of last year, Brazil have won 12 matches, drawn three and gone undefeated, scoring 38 goals and conceding only five. This is an incredible record achieved in a style that rightfully makes them favorites to bring the trophy home from Qatar. But the world championships are not won by a series of rowdy games. Even the 1970 team had to overcome some problems, especially against England and Uruguay. The 2002 team was lucky that Belgium didn’t lose.
The truly winning teams will have to go through the most difficult tests, which Brazil did not have to do last year. They have clearly improved a lot since losing to Argentina in the 2021 Copa América Final and they have a lot more offensive options. But it’s worth remembering how they lost that game – falling behind after a defensive error and then making it difficult for them to get back into the game by foolishly engaging in spats and rows when they should have held the ball. is rolling. The party seemingly has greatness in their hands. Whether potential becomes a reality may depend on the team’s emotional control when things go wrong.
What will we do without Messi (and will Argentina adapt)?
It is possible that in three months the international career of Lionel Messi will end. It shouldn’t be like this. He clearly likes Argentina, so he can continue. But the sixth World Cup certainly demands too much. It’s impossible to bypass it. The end is near. What will we do without him?
More precisely, what is Argentina going to do? Coach Lionel Scaloni may be thinking about it. He made his debut from the bench last Friday against Honduras for three players – center back Nahuel Pérez, center midfielder Enzo Fernandez and attacking midfielder Thiago Almada. These players may not play a big role in the World Cup, if they go at all. But they will play their part in the future of the team – on that terrible day when Messi is no more.
There was a preview in New Jersey on Tuesday night when Messi didn’t start a 3-0 win over Jamaica. The good news was that Argentina managed well without him. The good news was the goal of Julián Alvarez, a player who has a lot to offer in the coming years. And even better news for Red Bull Arena fans was that Messi entered the field at the beginning of the second half. The game seemed to drift until he scored two wonderfully well-scored late goals to seal the win and send fans home happy.
Argentina are now 35 games unbeaten and one of the most interesting aspects of this latest triumph was that they ended it with three centre-backs – Lisandro Martinez came off the bench to play on the left of a trio with Nicolas Otamendi. in the center and Christian Romero on the right. Lionel Scaloni may be looking into the future after Messi. But his focus is clearly on Qatar and it was interesting to watch him experiment with a setup he could use as a surprise during the World Cup.
4-4-2 or not 4-4-2? This is the issue of Uruguay.
With less than two months left, Uruguay coach Diego Alonso may still be confused about how his team will line up for the World Cup. The standard formation of recent years is 4-4-2 with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani in attack. Now they are aging, it is unlikely that the pair will be used together. But even if they were shooting at full capacity, there is pressure in the ranks to try something else.
Uruguay now have a great generation of midfielders who are probably better suited to other systems. They may well be at their best with a trio in midfield, with Matias Vecino at anchor between Federico Valverde and Rodrigo Bentancur. This is how they started the match against Iran last Friday, with Darwin Nunez leading the left of the attacking trio. Nunes was not satisfied with this, and Uruguay returned to the 4-4-2 formation. But once they made a substitution and removed Vecino, they conceded the only goal of the game.
On Tuesday against Canada, they lined up again in a 4-4-2 formation with Nunes and Suarez up front. Nunes helped his cause by sealing off a 2–0 win with a goal. But without a trio in midfield, Uruguay looked more vulnerable defensively. They often went out of their way to hold off the Canadians and would certainly have been punished by the stronger side. They ended the game with a lone striker with playmakers Nico De La Cruz (who scored the first goal) and Georgian de Arrascaeta behind him, which probably suits these players better.
So what to do? Can a team with Suarez, Nunez and Cavani only play one in front? Is the balance on the side so better? Or will they go with the tried and true two-man attack? Alonso’s decision day is approaching.
Is Ecuador’s glass half full or half empty?
Five games in a row without a single conceded ball, five clean sheets in a row – data that will please any coach. But Ecuador boss Gustavo Alfaro is visibly worried that his team has only scored twice in those games and drawn their second goalless draw in a row, this time against Japan.
They will next take to the field in the opening match against Qatar, host of the World Cup. The eyes of the entire planet will be on the young team of Ecuador as they begin the entire tournament. The problem is that Alfaro’s attacking players all seem to have lost form at the same time, which was confirmed towards the end of the game against Japan when Ecuador got a little lucky and the all-time top scorer Enner Valencia his penalty was saved. Valencia are shooting dry, fit center forward Michael Estrada is playing poorly and Alfaro has not been convinced by any of the options.
But of course, as long as they don’t give up, they’re always in the game. And even with senior centre-back Felix Torres injured, the defense was mostly sound. Most of their problems were self-inflicted—missing or failing a pass on defense rather than failing to deal with an opponent’s threat. But the level of confrontation in the World Cup will certainly be higher and the need for goals will be greater. In November, Ecuador will know if the glass is half full or half empty.