Bayer Leverkusen vs. FC Barcelona

El campeón de la Champions abrió la ronda de octavos con un triunfo en Alemania.

Bundesliga: Vorschau: Bayer 04 Leverkusen - RB Leipzig

Mit Bayer Leverkusen und RB Leipzig treffen zwei der formstärksten Teams der Liga aufeinander. Geht der Aufschwung der Werkself unter Herrlich weiter oder bleiben die Bullen den Bayern auf den Fersen?

Bundesliga: Bayer 04 Leverkusen gegen RB Leipzig live im TV & Stream

Bundesliga: Am Sonnabend empfängt Bayer Leverkusen RB Leipzig

Los mexicanos que regresaron de Europa a la Liga MX

Javier “Chicharito” Hernández ha triunfado en Europa con el Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, pero con la llegada de David Moyes como DT del West Ham, su futuro en la Premier League luce sombrío. ¿Regresará a México? / Foto: Getty Images

Los mexicanos que regresaron de Europa a la Liga MX

Javier "Chicharito" Hernández ha triunfado en Europa con el Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, pero con la llegada de David Moyes como DT del West Ham, su futuro en la Premier League luce sombrío. ¿Regresará a México? / Foto: Getty Images

FILE PHOTO: Bundesliga - Bayer Leverkusen vs Cologne

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Bundesliga - Bayer Leverkusen vs Cologne - BayArena, Leverkusen, Germany - October 28, 2017 General view of the Video Assistant Referee equipment before the match REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

McKennie, Adams set for US debuts against Portugal

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2017, file photo, Schalke's Weston McKennie, left, and Leverkusen's Charles Aranguiz challenge for the ball during a German Bundesliga soccer match in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Josh Sargent remembered when coach John Hackworth greeted the U.S. Under-17 team at breakfast in India last month and told players the American senior team had failed to qualify for next year's World Cup. "Everybody thought he was joking," Sargent said. In the wake of the failure, Sargent has been promoted to the national team along with Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams for Tuesday's exhibition at Portugal. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2017, file photo, Schalke's Weston McKennie, left, and Leverkusen's Charles Aranguiz challenge for the ball during a German Bundesliga soccer match in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Josh Sargent remembered when coach John Hackworth greeted the U.S. Under-17 team at breakfast in India last month and told players the American senior team had failed to qualify for next year's World Cup. "Everybody thought he was joking," Sargent said. In the wake of the failure, Sargent has been promoted to the national team along with Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams for Tuesday's exhibition at Portugal. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

Tite - revivalist, revolutionary or reactionary? How Brazil recovered from national humiliation 

Brazil in 1970, wrote the great Uruguayan essayist and epigrammist Eduardo Galeano, “played a soccer worthy of her people’s yearning for celebration and craving for beauty”. It has become commonplace to argue ever since their grisly campaign to defend the World Cup in 1974 that the subsequent five decades have been spent in a kind of aesthetic wilderness, betraying the credo and paradigm of ‘the beautiful game’ in grim pursuit of defensive robustness to counterbalance the seemingly ad-lib attacking ingenuity. A fear of being overrun by unyielding, ruthless opponents should Brazil return to first principles as they did under Tele Santana in 1982, the hypothesis goes, has reduced them to sacrificing the poetic for the prosaic.   System, structure, discipline and world-class strikers earned a fourth and fifth World Cup. We would all feel blessed to be thus compromised. But by 2014, this muddle took them on a foul-strewn run to the semi-final where, without the injured Neymar, they suffered their utmost humiliation in the 7-1 thrashing by Germany. The way the nation treated Neymar’s absence in the build-up, gnashing their teeth as if he had been martyred instead of injured, emphasised the extent of the problem. Those laments were a siren and the autopsy dwelt on the philosophical and psychological inadequacies that disgraced the team’s heritage. Guillem Balague once asked Roberto Carlos, a World Cup runner-up in 1998 and a winner in 2002, about the burden of expectation on Brazil’s players and he exhaled through a thin smile. “Football made me old before my time,” he said. “My country is one of suffering where the people look to victory in football to take them away from the poverty. Football is the only thing that can make the people happy.  “And that brings enormous pressure - we have to bear and play under its weight. It’s down to us to make the whole country happy. [Only we] can make the people forget about the assassinations and kidnappings, the economic crisis. We are God’s chosen ones to step up to the plate.” After the 2014 World Cup, fears that the bond between the public and its team (that had sustained football’s most important and optimistic culture) had been sundered provoked an understandable but unfortunate reaction from the incontinently scandal-plagued confederation. Ignoring that it had been the pragmatic taskmaster Luiz Felipe Scolari who had presided over the great indignity, Dunga, coach from 2006 to 2010, was reappointed once again to instil discipline, tactical rigidity and penitence. Dejected Brazil fans after the 7-1 semi-final humiliation Credit: AP Photo/Andre Penner The CBF has lived high on the hog since 1958 when Joao Havelange’s ascendancy began as president of the Brazilian sports confederation, but it never sees the harm in prescribing a spell of sackcloth and ashes for the players to deflect from broader deficiencies.  The board had two options in July 2014: Tite, who had won four regional titles at four clubs and, with Corinthians, the championship of Brazil, the Copa Libertadores and the Fifa Club World Cup or Dunga, a World Cup-winning captain who had won the Copa America in his first year as national team coach but packed his team with so many workhorses and cloggers by 2010 that it resembled a rat’s nest and left South Africa unmourned at the quarter-final stage. The CBF went for the familiar and disappointed Tite, who had taken a season’s sabbatical in anticipation of succeeding Scolari, his former PE teacher and team-mate, and tried to prepare himself by visiting Arsenal and Real Madrid to observe and consult with Arsène Wenger and Carlo Ancelotti. While the national team was flagellating itself in a show of atonement under Dunga, mired in his usual incoherence, Tite returned to Corinthians and won a second national title. When Brazil were eliminated from the Copa America Centenario at the group stage following a draw with Ecuador and defeat by Peru, the confederation at last redressed its error, sacked Dunga and summoned Tite.  Brazil treated Neymar as if he'd been martyred rather than injured Credit: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP He was appointed in June 2016 and rejuvenated the qualification campaign for Russia so thoroughly that they won nine successive group matches and were the first team to join the hosts in the pot last March. Yet the hopes that Brazil’s resurgence is because the coach is the heir to Jorge Saldanha, the man who fashioned the 1970 side but was manoeuvred out of his job before the tournament because of his opposition to the military dictatorship, and also Santana are not supported by the evidence.  Tite is as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but he has introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right.  Sam Wallace's Power Rankings 42:04 By contrast Tite has stuck with largely the same personnel yet has turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played in the hole but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sits Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three positions are the heart of the new Brazil - a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider - just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on from the same berths. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle, they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing.  We’re not looking at midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, more a functioning system in which the players understand their assignments and have the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence.   Paulinho was restored to the side by his former Corinthians manager and scored a hat-trick in Montevideo last March Credit: Natacha Pisarenko/AP In addition Tite has addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt.  Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. The coach's habit of rotating the captaincy apparently indiscriminately would make the armband fetishists among the England correspondents apoplectic but he does it simply to stress the team counts more than any of its components, much like Billy Bremner’s old mantra: “Side before self, every time.”   Brazil will walk out at Wembley on Tuesday night second behind Germany in the betting for next year’s World Cup. Under Tite they have lost only one game, a friendly last June at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against Argentina, and won 10 of 12 competitive matches. Perennial favourites for tournaments often for sentimental reasons, this time their claims are genuine. Because now they are not being led by a revivalist, a revolutionary or a reactionary but an astute, dauntless and enlightened coach who has found a fourth way.  

Tite - revivalist, revolutionary or reactionary? How Brazil recovered from national humiliation 

Brazil in 1970, wrote the great Uruguayan essayist and epigrammist Eduardo Galeano, “played a soccer worthy of her people’s yearning for celebration and craving for beauty”. It has become commonplace to argue ever since their grisly campaign to defend the World Cup in 1974 that the subsequent five decades have been spent in a kind of aesthetic wilderness, betraying the credo and paradigm of ‘the beautiful game’ in grim pursuit of defensive robustness to counterbalance the seemingly ad-lib attacking ingenuity. A fear of being overrun by unyielding, ruthless opponents should Brazil return to first principles as they did under Tele Santana in 1982, the hypothesis goes, has reduced them to sacrificing the poetic for the prosaic.   System, structure, discipline and world-class strikers earned a fourth and fifth World Cup. We would all feel blessed to be thus compromised. But by 2014, this muddle took them on a foul-strewn run to the semi-final where, without the injured Neymar, they suffered their utmost humiliation in the 7-1 thrashing by Germany. The way the nation treated Neymar’s absence in the build-up, gnashing their teeth as if he had been martyred instead of injured, emphasised the extent of the problem. Those laments were a siren and the autopsy dwelt on the philosophical and psychological inadequacies that disgraced the team’s heritage. Guillem Balague once asked Roberto Carlos, a World Cup runner-up in 1998 and a winner in 2002, about the burden of expectation on Brazil’s players and he exhaled through a thin smile. “Football made me old before my time,” he said. “My country is one of suffering where the people look to victory in football to take them away from the poverty. Football is the only thing that can make the people happy.  “And that brings enormous pressure - we have to bear and play under its weight. It’s down to us to make the whole country happy. [Only we] can make the people forget about the assassinations and kidnappings, the economic crisis. We are God’s chosen ones to step up to the plate.” After the 2014 World Cup, fears that the bond between the public and its team (that had sustained football’s most important and optimistic culture) had been sundered provoked an understandable but unfortunate reaction from the incontinently scandal-plagued confederation. Ignoring that it had been the pragmatic taskmaster Luiz Felipe Scolari who had presided over the great indignity, Dunga, coach from 2006 to 2010, was reappointed once again to instil discipline, tactical rigidity and penitence. Dejected Brazil fans after the 7-1 semi-final humiliation Credit: AP Photo/Andre Penner The CBF has lived high on the hog since 1958 when Joao Havelange’s ascendancy began as president of the Brazilian sports confederation, but it never sees the harm in prescribing a spell of sackcloth and ashes for the players to deflect from broader deficiencies.  The board had two options in July 2014: Tite, who had won four regional titles at four clubs and, with Corinthians, the championship of Brazil, the Copa Libertadores and the Fifa Club World Cup or Dunga, a World Cup-winning captain who had won the Copa America in his first year as national team coach but packed his team with so many workhorses and cloggers by 2010 that it resembled a rat’s nest and left South Africa unmourned at the quarter-final stage. The CBF went for the familiar and disappointed Tite, who had taken a season’s sabbatical in anticipation of succeeding Scolari, his former PE teacher and team-mate, and tried to prepare himself by visiting Arsenal and Real Madrid to observe and consult with Arsène Wenger and Carlo Ancelotti. While the national team was flagellating itself in a show of atonement under Dunga, mired in his usual incoherence, Tite returned to Corinthians and won a second national title. When Brazil were eliminated from the Copa America Centenario at the group stage following a draw with Ecuador and defeat by Peru, the confederation at last redressed its error, sacked Dunga and summoned Tite.  Brazil treated Neymar as if he'd been martyred rather than injured Credit: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP He was appointed in June 2016 and rejuvenated the qualification campaign for Russia so thoroughly that they won nine successive group matches and were the first team to join the hosts in the pot last March. Yet the hopes that Brazil’s resurgence is because the coach is the heir to Jorge Saldanha, the man who fashioned the 1970 side but was manoeuvred out of his job before the tournament because of his opposition to the military dictatorship, and also Santana are not supported by the evidence.  Tite is as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but he has introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right.  Sam Wallace's Power Rankings 42:04 By contrast Tite has stuck with largely the same personnel yet has turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played in the hole but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sits Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three positions are the heart of the new Brazil - a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider - just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on from the same berths. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle, they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing.  We’re not looking at midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, more a functioning system in which the players understand their assignments and have the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence.   Paulinho was restored to the side by his former Corinthians manager and scored a hat-trick in Montevideo last March Credit: Natacha Pisarenko/AP In addition Tite has addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt.  Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. The coach's habit of rotating the captaincy apparently indiscriminately would make the armband fetishists among the England correspondents apoplectic but he does it simply to stress the team counts more than any of its components, much like Billy Bremner’s old mantra: “Side before self, every time.”   Brazil will walk out at Wembley on Tuesday night second behind Germany in the betting for next year’s World Cup. Under Tite they have lost only one game, a friendly last June at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against Argentina, and won 10 of 12 competitive matches. Perennial favourites for tournaments often for sentimental reasons, this time their claims are genuine. Because now they are not being led by a revivalist, a revolutionary or a reactionary but an astute, dauntless and enlightened coach who has found a fourth way.  

Tite - revivalist, revolutionary or reactionary? How Brazil recovered from national humiliation 

Brazil in 1970, wrote the great Uruguayan essayist and epigrammist Eduardo Galeano, “played a soccer worthy of her people’s yearning for celebration and craving for beauty”. It has become commonplace to argue ever since their grisly campaign to defend the World Cup in 1974 that the subsequent five decades have been spent in a kind of aesthetic wilderness, betraying the credo and paradigm of ‘the beautiful game’ in grim pursuit of defensive robustness to counterbalance the seemingly ad-lib attacking ingenuity. A fear of being overrun by unyielding, ruthless opponents should Brazil return to first principles as they did under Tele Santana in 1982, the hypothesis goes, has reduced them to sacrificing the poetic for the prosaic.   System, structure, discipline and world-class strikers earned a fourth and fifth World Cup. We would all feel blessed to be thus compromised. But by 2014, this muddle took them on a foul-strewn run to the semi-final where, without the injured Neymar, they suffered their utmost humiliation in the 7-1 thrashing by Germany. The way the nation treated Neymar’s absence in the build-up, gnashing their teeth as if he had been martyred instead of injured, emphasised the extent of the problem. Those laments were a siren and the autopsy dwelt on the philosophical and psychological inadequacies that disgraced the team’s heritage. Guillem Balague once asked Roberto Carlos, a World Cup runner-up in 1998 and a winner in 2002, about the burden of expectation on Brazil’s players and he exhaled through a thin smile. “Football made me old before my time,” he said. “My country is one of suffering where the people look to victory in football to take them away from the poverty. Football is the only thing that can make the people happy.  “And that brings enormous pressure - we have to bear and play under its weight. It’s down to us to make the whole country happy. [Only we] can make the people forget about the assassinations and kidnappings, the economic crisis. We are God’s chosen ones to step up to the plate.” After the 2014 World Cup, fears that the bond between the public and its team (that had sustained football’s most important and optimistic culture) had been sundered provoked an understandable but unfortunate reaction from the incontinently scandal-plagued confederation. Ignoring that it had been the pragmatic taskmaster Luiz Felipe Scolari who had presided over the great indignity, Dunga, coach from 2006 to 2010, was reappointed once again to instil discipline, tactical rigidity and penitence. Dejected Brazil fans after the 7-1 semi-final humiliation Credit: AP Photo/Andre Penner The CBF has lived high on the hog since 1958 when Joao Havelange’s ascendancy began as president of the Brazilian sports confederation, but it never sees the harm in prescribing a spell of sackcloth and ashes for the players to deflect from broader deficiencies.  The board had two options in July 2014: Tite, who had won four regional titles at four clubs and, with Corinthians, the championship of Brazil, the Copa Libertadores and the Fifa Club World Cup or Dunga, a World Cup-winning captain who had won the Copa America in his first year as national team coach but packed his team with so many workhorses and cloggers by 2010 that it resembled a rat’s nest and left South Africa unmourned at the quarter-final stage. The CBF went for the familiar and disappointed Tite, who had taken a season’s sabbatical in anticipation of succeeding Scolari, his former PE teacher and team-mate, and tried to prepare himself by visiting Arsenal and Real Madrid to observe and consult with Arsène Wenger and Carlo Ancelotti. While the national team was flagellating itself in a show of atonement under Dunga, mired in his usual incoherence, Tite returned to Corinthians and won a second national title. When Brazil were eliminated from the Copa America Centenario at the group stage following a draw with Ecuador and defeat by Peru, the confederation at last redressed its error, sacked Dunga and summoned Tite.  Brazil treated Neymar as if he'd been martyred rather than injured Credit: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP He was appointed in June 2016 and rejuvenated the qualification campaign for Russia so thoroughly that they won nine successive group matches and were the first team to join the hosts in the pot last March. Yet the hopes that Brazil’s resurgence is because the coach is the heir to Jorge Saldanha, the man who fashioned the 1970 side but was manoeuvred out of his job before the tournament because of his opposition to the military dictatorship, and also Santana are not supported by the evidence.  Tite is as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but he has introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right.  Sam Wallace's Power Rankings 42:04 By contrast Tite has stuck with largely the same personnel yet has turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played in the hole but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sits Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three positions are the heart of the new Brazil - a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider - just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on from the same berths. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle, they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing.  We’re not looking at midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, more a functioning system in which the players understand their assignments and have the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence.   Paulinho was restored to the side by his former Corinthians manager and scored a hat-trick in Montevideo last March Credit: Natacha Pisarenko/AP In addition Tite has addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt.  Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. The coach's habit of rotating the captaincy apparently indiscriminately would make the armband fetishists among the England correspondents apoplectic but he does it simply to stress the team counts more than any of its components, much like Billy Bremner’s old mantra: “Side before self, every time.”   Brazil will walk out at Wembley on Tuesday night second behind Germany in the betting for next year’s World Cup. Under Tite they have lost only one game, a friendly last June at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against Argentina, and won 10 of 12 competitive matches. Perennial favourites for tournaments often for sentimental reasons, this time their claims are genuine. Because now they are not being led by a revivalist, a revolutionary or a reactionary but an astute, dauntless and enlightened coach who has found a fourth way.  

Tite - revivalist, revolutionary or reactionary? How Brazil recovered from national humiliation 

Brazil in 1970, wrote the great Uruguayan essayist and epigrammist Eduardo Galeano, “played a soccer worthy of her people’s yearning for celebration and craving for beauty”. It has become commonplace to argue ever since their grisly campaign to defend the World Cup in 1974 that the subsequent five decades have been spent in a kind of aesthetic wilderness, betraying the credo and paradigm of ‘the beautiful game’ in grim pursuit of defensive robustness to counterbalance the seemingly ad-lib attacking ingenuity. A fear of being overrun by unyielding, ruthless opponents should Brazil return to first principles as they did under Tele Santana in 1982, the hypothesis goes, has reduced them to sacrificing the poetic for the prosaic.   System, structure, discipline and world-class strikers earned a fourth and fifth World Cup. We would all feel blessed to be thus compromised. But by 2014, this muddle took them on a foul-strewn run to the semi-final where, without the injured Neymar, they suffered their utmost humiliation in the 7-1 thrashing by Germany. The way the nation treated Neymar’s absence in the build-up, gnashing their teeth as if he had been martyred instead of injured, emphasised the extent of the problem. Those laments were a siren and the autopsy dwelt on the philosophical and psychological inadequacies that disgraced the team’s heritage. Guillem Balague once asked Roberto Carlos, a World Cup runner-up in 1998 and a winner in 2002, about the burden of expectation on Brazil’s players and he exhaled through a thin smile. “Football made me old before my time,” he said. “My country is one of suffering where the people look to victory in football to take them away from the poverty. Football is the only thing that can make the people happy.  “And that brings enormous pressure - we have to bear and play under its weight. It’s down to us to make the whole country happy. [Only we] can make the people forget about the assassinations and kidnappings, the economic crisis. We are God’s chosen ones to step up to the plate.” After the 2014 World Cup, fears that the bond between the public and its team (that had sustained football’s most important and optimistic culture) had been sundered provoked an understandable but unfortunate reaction from the incontinently scandal-plagued confederation. Ignoring that it had been the pragmatic taskmaster Luiz Felipe Scolari who had presided over the great indignity, Dunga, coach from 2006 to 2010, was reappointed once again to instil discipline, tactical rigidity and penitence. Dejected Brazil fans after the 7-1 semi-final humiliation Credit: AP Photo/Andre Penner The CBF has lived high on the hog since 1958 when Joao Havelange’s ascendancy began as president of the Brazilian sports confederation, but it never sees the harm in prescribing a spell of sackcloth and ashes for the players to deflect from broader deficiencies.  The board had two options in July 2014: Tite, who had won four regional titles at four clubs and, with Corinthians, the championship of Brazil, the Copa Libertadores and the Fifa Club World Cup or Dunga, a World Cup-winning captain who had won the Copa America in his first year as national team coach but packed his team with so many workhorses and cloggers by 2010 that it resembled a rat’s nest and left South Africa unmourned at the quarter-final stage. The CBF went for the familiar and disappointed Tite, who had taken a season’s sabbatical in anticipation of succeeding Scolari, his former PE teacher and team-mate, and tried to prepare himself by visiting Arsenal and Real Madrid to observe and consult with Arsène Wenger and Carlo Ancelotti. While the national team was flagellating itself in a show of atonement under Dunga, mired in his usual incoherence, Tite returned to Corinthians and won a second national title. When Brazil were eliminated from the Copa America Centenario at the group stage following a draw with Ecuador and defeat by Peru, the confederation at last redressed its error, sacked Dunga and summoned Tite.  Brazil treated Neymar as if he'd been martyred rather than injured Credit: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP He was appointed in June 2016 and rejuvenated the qualification campaign for Russia so thoroughly that they won nine successive group matches and were the first team to join the hosts in the pot last March. Yet the hopes that Brazil’s resurgence is because the coach is the heir to Jorge Saldanha, the man who fashioned the 1970 side but was manoeuvred out of his job before the tournament because of his opposition to the military dictatorship, and also Santana are not supported by the evidence.  Tite is as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but he has introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right.  Sam Wallace's Power Rankings 42:04 By contrast Tite has stuck with largely the same personnel yet has turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played in the hole but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sits Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three positions are the heart of the new Brazil - a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider - just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on from the same berths. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle, they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing.  We’re not looking at midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, more a functioning system in which the players understand their assignments and have the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence.   Paulinho was restored to the side by his former Corinthians manager and scored a hat-trick in Montevideo last March Credit: Natacha Pisarenko/AP In addition Tite has addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt.  Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. The coach's habit of rotating the captaincy apparently indiscriminately would make the armband fetishists among the England correspondents apoplectic but he does it simply to stress the team counts more than any of its components, much like Billy Bremner’s old mantra: “Side before self, every time.”   Brazil will walk out at Wembley on Tuesday night second behind Germany in the betting for next year’s World Cup. Under Tite they have lost only one game, a friendly last June at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against Argentina, and won 10 of 12 competitive matches. Perennial favourites for tournaments often for sentimental reasons, this time their claims are genuine. Because now they are not being led by a revivalist, a revolutionary or a reactionary but an astute, dauntless and enlightened coach who has found a fourth way.  

Brandt feeling more comfortable in national setup

Bayer Leverkusen winger Julian Brandt says he is gradually feeling more at home with the Germany national team

Brandt feeling more comfortable in national setup

Bayer Leverkusen winger Julian Brandt says he is gradually feeling more at home with the Germany national team

Brandt feeling more comfortable in national setup

Bayer Leverkusen winger Julian Brandt says he is gradually feeling more at home with the Germany national team

Report: Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund Join Juventus in Race for Emre Can

High-flying Manchester City and German giants Borussia Dortmund have joined Juventus in closely monitoring Emre Can's standoff with Liverpool regarding a potential contract extension.

Dortmund are looking to bring the Germany international back to his homeland, but will face stiff competition from Pep Guardiola, who may just Can as the next part of the project he's building with the Citizens, according to the Mirror.

The 23-year-old has been stalling on signing a new deal at Anfield, insisting that a release clause is essential in any potential deal.

However the Liverpool contingency refuse to put such clauses in new contracts, wanting to keep their best assets out of the window display, amid today's frantic market.

Can's current deal expires come the end of this campaign and there's currently no sign of any resolution at Liverpool. Italian Champions Juventus are said to be extremely keen on the midfield enforcer and have reportedly met with the players representatives over a potential transfer.

The situation is now less than ideal for the Reds, as the ex-Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen man, could potentially leave Merseyside as a free agent in the summer.

According to a report from Football-Italia, Can is said to prefer a move to the Etihad, while Juventus remain hopeful that fellow German Sami Khedira, can sway his decision in their favour.

Whether the switch be to Manchester, Italy, or Germany, losing such a vital member of the starting lineup, would be a serious kick in the teeth for manager Jurgen Klopp, as he looks to direct his outfit to honours for the first time in his tenure.

Dortmund are still set to test the waters in the summer, despite the disorderly predicament surrounding the player, as manager Peter Bosz, looks to bolster his currently light midfield options.

The Dutch manager may have an advantage over the Old Lady and the Citizens in view of this particular deal, as Can's agent, Reza Fazeli, also represents himself, as well as midfielders Nuri Sahin and Mahmoud Dahoud.

Talks are said to have started over a year ago for the German international, with Klopp describing the whole situation as "not too cool."

Report: Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund Join Juventus in Race for Emre Can

High-flying Manchester City and German giants Borussia Dortmund have joined Juventus in closely monitoring Emre Can's standoff with Liverpool regarding a potential contract extension.

Dortmund are looking to bring the Germany international back to his homeland, but will face stiff competition from Pep Guardiola, who may just Can as the next part of the project he's building with the Citizens, according to the Mirror.

The 23-year-old has been stalling on signing a new deal at Anfield, insisting that a release clause is essential in any potential deal.

However the Liverpool contingency refuse to put such clauses in new contracts, wanting to keep their best assets out of the window display, amid today's frantic market.

Can's current deal expires come the end of this campaign and there's currently no sign of any resolution at Liverpool. Italian Champions Juventus are said to be extremely keen on the midfield enforcer and have reportedly met with the players representatives over a potential transfer.

The situation is now less than ideal for the Reds, as the ex-Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen man, could potentially leave Merseyside as a free agent in the summer.

According to a report from Football-Italia, Can is said to prefer a move to the Etihad, while Juventus remain hopeful that fellow German Sami Khedira, can sway his decision in their favour.

Whether the switch be to Manchester, Italy, or Germany, losing such a vital member of the starting lineup, would be a serious kick in the teeth for manager Jurgen Klopp, as he looks to direct his outfit to honours for the first time in his tenure.

Dortmund are still set to test the waters in the summer, despite the disorderly predicament surrounding the player, as manager Peter Bosz, looks to bolster his currently light midfield options.

The Dutch manager may have an advantage over the Old Lady and the Citizens in view of this particular deal, as Can's agent, Reza Fazeli, also represents himself, as well as midfielders Nuri Sahin and Mahmoud Dahoud.

Talks are said to have started over a year ago for the German international, with Klopp describing the whole situation as "not too cool."

Allemagne - Brandt : "Tout le monde veut battre le champion du monde"

A 21 ans, Julian Brandt espère bien participé au prochain Mondial avec l’Allemagne. Le jeune joueur du Bayer Leverkusen s’est confié au micro de Perform Group sur le statut à défendre de la Mannschaft.

Allemagne - Brandt : "Tout le monde veut battre le champion du monde"

A 21 ans, Julian Brandt espère bien participé au prochain Mondial avec l’Allemagne. Le jeune joueur du Bayer Leverkusen s’est confié au micro de Perform Group sur le statut à défendre de la Mannschaft.

Allemagne - Brandt : "Tout le monde veut battre le champion du monde"

A 21 ans, Julian Brandt espère bien participé au prochain Mondial avec l’Allemagne. Le jeune joueur du Bayer Leverkusen s’est confié au micro de Perform Group sur le statut à défendre de la Mannschaft.

Allemagne - Brandt : "Tout le monde veut battre le champion du monde"

A 21 ans, Julian Brandt espère bien participé au prochain Mondial avec l’Allemagne. Le jeune joueur du Bayer Leverkusen s’est confié au micro de Perform Group sur le statut à défendre de la Mannschaft.

Allemagne - Brandt : "Tout le monde veut battre le champion du monde"

A 21 ans, Julian Brandt espère bien participé au prochain Mondial avec l’Allemagne. Le jeune joueur du Bayer Leverkusen s’est confié au micro de Perform Group sur le statut à défendre de la Mannschaft.

Allemagne - Brandt : "Tout le monde veut battre le champion du monde"

A 21 ans, Julian Brandt espère bien participé au prochain Mondial avec l’Allemagne. Le jeune joueur du Bayer Leverkusen s’est confié au micro de Perform Group sur le statut à défendre de la Mannschaft.

Germany one of favourites for World Cup - Voller

Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller says that the German national team is one of the strong favourites for next year's World Cup alongside France and Spain

Germany one of favourites for World Cup - Voller

Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller says that the German national team is one of the strong favourites for next year's World Cup alongside France and Spain

Germany one of favourites for World Cup - Voller

Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller says that the German national team is one of the strong favourites for next year's World Cup alongside France and Spain