Sunday, November 27, 2022

Richarlison recreates the magic of Brazil’s iconic kit with a swipe of Selecao history

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There is some opinion that the players’ links to Jair Bolsonaro have besmirched this Brazilian side but Richarlison rises to breathe life into the iconic yellow jersey just when it was needed most

Brazil 2-0 Serbia (Richarlison ’62, ’73)

Qatar 2022 has finally begun. Brazil’s first appearance is a validation stamp like no other. The sense of anticipation along the boulevard bordering Lusail Stadium was charged in a way reminiscent of walking to the heavyweight champion’s ring. It took a while for the night to get going, but in the championship rounds, Richarlison went full Brazilian for the mark with an acrobatic scissors punch.

Although player accessibility through the tech-heavy lens of modernity has liberated Brazil from ancient mystique, the kit is still a deep yellow, with azure shorts and crisp white socks. The most famous color combination in the game’s history is a streak so meaningful and valuable it’s almost worth a goal start. And it entitles the wearer to a basic value assessment, despite claims to the contrary by Brazilian writers.

The gulf between the political class, the intelligentsia and the people is never clearer than at a football game. The idea that Neymar, Alisson, Thiago Silva or any other lavishly rewarded megastar allegedly linked to Jair Bolsonaro’s failed presidential campaign could be impaled in their first appearance in Qatar in 2022 never crossed the turnstiles.

Bolsonaro’s appropriation of the yellow shirt in his propaganda war with eventual victor Luiz Lula da Silva was a theft prosecuted at the ballot box. Fans are smart enough to know that no one is looking after their interests and that given half a chance they’d accept the same Get Out of the Favela card being offered by Europe’s rapacious collectors of Brazilian talent.

However, affection has its limits. The myth must always stand the test of now. Of the attacking weapons many argue set this squad apart, only Neymar and Vinicius Jr. of those in the starting lineup would pass the entrance exam to the old wizarding school, despite Richarlison’s homage to the old.

Serbia needed nothing more than committed and organized to keep them out in a sluggish first half. After the Brazilians’ early adrenaline rush wore off, Serbia found a decent attacking rhythm.

In fact, it might be an under-recognized Brazilian quality they’re counting on; their solidity in defence. The central defender pairing of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, supported by Casemiro, one of the best beat cops in defensive midfield, is difficult to penetrate.

The game needed a goal or at least a blast from Neymar. The lad committed with a typical jab, which found an agricultural response on the edge of the box. Vicinius Jr. picked up the thread with a powerful dart to the sidelines, surviving two attempts to dismember him before crossing. The crowd appreciated the injection of urgency. The drums started. Serbia suspected trouble.

Sandro hit a post from 30 yards on the hour, Richarlison cleared three minutes later after the shot was saved by Vinicius Jnr. Once hurt Serbian faith drained. Richarlison’s contribution to the highlights ten minutes later signaled the start of the ‘old’ period, a World Cup dreaded by all opponents.

Casemiro’s shot, which ricocheted off a post, spelled the end of a serious attempt. Coach Tite made a number of substitutions to watch the game and complete the first round of group matches. Did Qatar save the best for last in 2022? In second-half moments, they might tease us with the promise of riches to come.

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