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England's handling of selfish Neymar a blueprint for slowing down Brazil

England's handling of selfish Neymar a blueprint for slowing down Brazil
From ESPN - November 14, 2017

While the first meeting between Coach Tite's Brazil squad and a European opponent was a low-key game, it was, nevertheless, a valuable experience -- for both sides.

This was not the kind of test that Germany, Brazil's opponent in March, will provide. England did not look to dominate possession. England's manager Gareth Southgate confessed that his players were so wary of Brazil's attack that their first thought was to defend.

In fact, this strategy may be frequently used during next year's World Cup as Brazil's opponents look to deny them and their talisman Neymar space while running down the clock. The onus will be on Brazil to carry the game as they play teams that may not be able to match them, but can still beat them.

The threat was always there while playing against England. For most of the game, Marcus Rashford made attempts to get into the space behind Brazil's attacking left-back Marcelo. Indeed, in the final attack Kyle Walker and Dominic Solanke combined down that flank after Marcelo was dispossessed. Tammy Abraham was not far away from meeting the low cross with a touch that would have given England the win.

This is a scenario that could certainly be repeated in the World Cup. Brazil cruised through South America's qualification rounds. In 12 games under Tite they won 10 and played to a draw in the other two. They scored 30 goals but conceded just three. But, this time around, the competition in South America was not high -- a point emphasised by Argentina's astonishing defensive collapse against Nigeria earlier in the day, when they let a two-goal lead slip to lose 4-2.

Down the road, European defences will be more difficult for Brazil. They will have to be more imaginative in the final third of the field, and they will have to play collectively.

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