Four reasons for Brazil's resurgence
Our writer lists the reasons for the Samba Boys' resurgence
(Miranda 2, Neymar 74)
1 THE MANAGER
Tite, appointed three months ago, was the man tasked to clean up the mess left behind by his predecessor Dunga.
The new Brazil coach got the house spick and span in no time. Two wins in his first two matches have restored order back in the South American powerhouses.
After leading his side to a 3-0 away win in Quito last week - Brazil's first-ever win in the Ecuadorian capital - they downed Colombia 2-1 to move within a point of World Cup qualifying (South America) leaders Uruguay yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Tite's rapport with the supporters and the Brazilian media played a huge part in creating a feel-good factor to lift the spirits of the national team, who were still reeling from the 7-1 World Cup semi-final drubbing by Germany in 2014 and a calamitous Copa America campaign three months ago.
The 55-year-old worked his magic at Corinthians, with whom he clinched the Brazilian Championship in 2011, the Copa Libertadores in the subsequent year, and the Brasileirao again in his third stint at the club last year, to prove that he is more than just a savvy man with the gift of the gab.
Under Dunga, Brazil were a team of brilliant individuals. Tite managed to harness the artistry to turn them into a formidable collective force.
Brazil's disastrous 2014 World Cup campaign had far-reaching repercussions. Established players shouldered the bulk of the blame, and many of them were cast into the international wilderness.
The disappointment also created a toxic atmosphere of wanting to recapture their glory days too quickly, indirectly contributing an intense pressure to perform.
But Tite, armed with the almost unanimous backing of everyone in Brazil, has steadied the ship and lifted the enormous strain off his players. It showed in the way the team played their last two games.
The side were overflowing with confidence in their 3-0 away win over Ecuador, despite the match being played at a high altitude.
Yesterday morning, they displayed their resilience after Colombia cancelled out Miranda's early opening goal.
They kept plugging away until second-half substitute Philippe Coutinho set up Neymar for a superb deciding goal 16 minutes from time.
Tite said after the game: "I am very happy because the players will return to their clubs feeling the same or better as when they arrived."
Neymar's reputation, unlike many of his former teammates, wasn't tainted by the 2014 World Cup because he missed the semi-finals through injury. The country sees him as the weapon to launch them back among the elite, and he hasn't let them down.
Fresh from helping the Under-23 side to their first Olympic gold last month, he has been in superb form for Tite.
He scored the opening goal against Ecuador last week, and impressed again yesterday morning with an assist and the winning goal.
At just 24 years old, the Barcelona forward has moved level with legend Zico on the all-time Brazilian goal-scoring chart, with 48 goals in 72 appearances.
His winner, a clinical grounder into the bottom corner of the Colombian goal, summed up his qualities - opportunism, precision and wonderful technique.
4 EMERGING TALENT
The same side that started against Ecuador took to the field yesterday morning. The line-up revealed a promising crop of young players Tite is counting on to book their ticket to Russia.
Some are new, while some are simply given more chances to shine.
Gabriel Jesus, who scored twice on his senior debut last week, was kept quiet by the Colombians but the 19-year-old has shown positive signs that Brazil's long search for a No. 9 may end with him.
Marquinhos, 22, might have scored an own goal yesterday morning but otherwise he has looked reliable in the backline.
The stock of Casemiro, a 24-year-old defensive midfielder, is rising fast while Alisson, 23, can be optimistic of a long international career ahead of him in goal.
There were also solid, youthful options on the bench for Tite.
Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho, who provided the assist for Neymar against Colombia after coming on as a substitute, is still only 24.
Gabriel Barbosa, 20, who caught the eye of Barcelona before moving to Inter Milan last month, is also a raw gem tipped for the top.
With a right mix of youth and experience in the squad, no wonder Brazilian fans are feeling optimistic once more.
- Uruguay 4 Paraguay 0, Chile 0 Bolivia 0, Peru 2 Ecuador 1.
Tite: We can be better
Neymar's second-half strike earned Brazil a 2-1 victory in the World Cup South American qualifying clash with Colombia in Manaus yesterday morning (Singapore time).
It could turn out to be a vital winner as it moved the hosts into second place in the group, one point behind Uruguay and above Argentina on goal difference.
Miranda gave the Selecao the perfect start with the opening goal after just 90 seconds, but an own goal from Marquinhos got Colombia back into the game.
However, Philippe Coutinho teed up Neymar (below, with Tite) to hit the winner with 74 minutes on the clock.
Brazil coach Tite praised Brazil's quality as they made it two wins from two in World Cup qualifying.
The five-time world champions were humiliated in the Copa America Centenario this year as they failed to get out their group with Peru, Ecuador and Haiti, which ultimately cost Dunga his job.
Former Corinthians boss Tite was installed as his replacement and the 55-year-old has restored the confidence in the Selecao.
"We saw quality on show, without reaching the level of greatness of Brazil. We had a great game, it is very exciting," he said.
"The level of concentration and commitment are fundamental. We are in a process of evolution.
"The team played very consistently. You have to win with (that kind of) performance, because it gives you confidence.
"I am very happy because they (the players) will return to their clubs feeling the same or better as when they arrived."
He did urge caution, though, after some frustration from the fans during the clash at the Arena da Amazonia.
"If the fans are excited, that is fair, but we have to be careful," he added.
"(The fans) still got a little impatient in the second half, I thought, when we were working the ball from side to side.
"I turned two or three times and asked for calm so that the fans can understand we were doing it to find the best solution."
Veteran defender Dani Alves has credited Tite for boosting morale within the Selecao squad.
"We are all happy to have the group that we have," said the former Barcelona defender.
"It's been a long time since I've had a feeling like this with the national team. Everyone is very happy."
Alves is currently Brazil's most experienced player with 94 international caps.
He has played under three other Brazil coaches since his debut in 2006 - Dunga, Mano Menezes and Luiz Felipe Scolari. Tite is the fourth.
The 33-year-old, who joined Juventus from Barcelona in July, was made captain yesterday morning.
The move is part of a new leadership policy under Tite, which will see the armband rotated among the squad's senior players.
Alves said Tite had provided more than just a positive vibe in Brazil's dressing room.
"Tite brings renovation, experience and a capacity to reinvent with each year that goes by," he said.
"His energy is contagious and we are very happy to have him as our coach."
- Wire Services.