Brazil has always created some of the best goal scorers in football. But as the Copa America approaches, Brazil coach Tito knows there is no target from Ronaldo or Romario to rely on. Instead, Titus is divided between four options, which go into Sunday’s opening match against Venezuela in Brazil.
Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino, Richardson and Gabriel Barbosa are in dispute. In combination, they scored 45 goals for the national team. In contrast, Neymar has 66 of himself.
Brazil struggled to find a world-class striker from the 2006 World Cup, when Ronaldo, who is out of shape but still deadly, played his fourth and final edition. The team’s target men in the last three World Cups have scored just four goals in 17 games.
Jesus had zero in 2018, Fred scored once in 2014 and Luis Fabiano scored three in 2010. Brazil coach Tito sees the Copa America as a key preparation for next year’s World Cup and this is a great opportunity for a striker to claimed a starting position in Qatar.
“Gabriel Barbosa hesitates and he can have a very strong finishing force. Jesus is a natural man, he can reach the wings and (do well) in one on one. …
Richardson too, “Tite said ahead of Tuesday’s 2-0 victory in Paraguay in the World Cup qualifiers.” And Firmino is number 9, which also becomes 10 and gives you a connection with Neymar. “
Until recently, Titus’ first choice was 24-year-old Jesus. He has scored 14 goals in 42 games for Manchester City this season, a figure he admitted was disappointing. The Brazilian recently said he was affected by COVID-19 earlier this year.
The 29-year-old Firmino had his lowest score since joining Liverpool in 2015, with just nine goals in 48 games.
Richardson had a better club season, scoring 13 goals in 40 games for Everton. But Tite believes the 24-year-old is better as a winger, which means he is a replacement for Neymar – who did not play in the Copa America in 2019 due to injury.
Of Brazil’s 16 goals in World Cup qualifiers, Firmino and Richardson each scored three. Jesus does not have one. He is unlikely to start for Brazil unless Tito decides to use him as a winger, giving Neymar a central position, as he did in the victory in Paraguay.
Many Brazilian fans would like to see a chance for Barbosa, known as Gabigol. Flop at Inter Milan and Benfica, the 24-year-old Barbosa has had great success at Flamengo since returning home two years ago.
Barbosa scored 38 goals in 52 games for his club in 2020. This year he scored 13 goals in 12 games, although the more competitive Brazilian championship is yet to begin.
Barbosa started in Brazil’s 2-0 victory against Ecuador, but did not score. If none of the strikers can achieve, Brazil will have to meet their goals depending on Neymar.
“National teams are built over time, that’s what they are,” Tite said. “We don’t have much time together. And sometimes even during a match we will have to look for alternatives.”