For 90 gruelling minutes, Costa Rica had stuck to the task at hand – keep Brazil at bay. They rode their luck along the way and had Keylor Navas to thank for some superb saves. And just as Neymar saw tomorrow’s headlines thrashing him and Brazil, Coutinho ghosted in to ensure that Tite and the Seleccao remain alive and well.
Philippe Coutinho Keeps Brazil Alive
That Los Ticos has the better opportunity to go ahead in the first half summed up the level of Brazil’s sterile domination of the game. The halftime substitution of Douglas Costa in place of the ineffectual Willian breathed fire into the Brazilian attack. In my opinion, this is where Tite earned his stripes. Almost instantly Brazil created superb chances with Gabriel Jesus heading onto the crossbar and a rasping effort by Coutinho blocked by Cristian Gamboa. As the second half progressed, Brazil stretched the game, especially along the wings.
The Penalty Incident
It escapes me why someone of Neymar’s calibre would try to pull off that bit of theatre with the VAR watching. While he escaped a booking for simulation, he shouldn’t have tried it in the first place. He could have easily attempted the shot and still gotten a penalty (which would have then been overturned). Seeing the noodle-haired superstar do that was rather pathetic.
The Man of the Hour
In January 2018, Barcelona splurged £142 million to bring Philippe Coutinho to the Camp Nou. At the time, it was considered as an extravagant waste of club funds. It probably comes as no surprise then, that after a rollicking start to his Catalan career, Coutinho is in top form at the World Cup, going a fair way in justifying the price. A thunderstrike against Switzerland followed by a campaign-saving strike (through the legs of Navas no less) against Costa Rica means that Brazil may have just found their Kaka to Neymar’s mercurial Ronaldinho. Coutinho was the best thing in the game and probably would be the man that leads the Seleccao to the promised land for the 6th time.
Samba All the Way?
Great teams over the years often find ways to win ugly when the need has risen. Brazil has had to play against two defensively claustrophobic teams thus far. They were choked by Switzerland and were almost choked by Costa Rica too. But they survived. They’d need more from the star players and a lot more from their No. 10 if they want to have a run till the finals.
Right then, how many fouls do you think Serbia would commit on Neymar?