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Brazil Breaks Through With a Flourish; Ronaldo Scores in Fifth World Cup


On Soccer

LUSAIL, Qatar — Not all goals sound the identical. Sometimes, the noise they generate is certainly one of joy, giddy and delighted. Sometimes, it’s more guttural, not a lot a celebration as a growl of defiance. At others, it’s a sough of grateful relief. And really occasionally, it’s something different: not an exhalation but a drawing of the breath. Sometimes, it’s the sound of wonder.

For somewhat greater than an hour, Brazil had toiled to beat Serbia. The last of the heavyweights to begin this tournament, Brazil had entered it with a head of steam: beaten just once in three years, untouchable for 18 months, expected to brush aside anything standing that stood in the best way of its long-awaited sixth World Cup.

Here it was, though, in front of a partisan and expectant crowd, grinding its strategy to an uninspiring win against an obdurate, but limited, opponent. It had the lead, because of the form of gnarled, forgettable goal the sport had merited, but it surely was hardly the form of emphatic statement that had been anticipated.

Every little thing modified in a single quick. Vinicíus Junior burst down the left wing. With the surface of his right boot, he fizzed a low cross toward Richarlíson, the scorer of the primary goal. Because it traveled, the ball clipped an outstretched Serbian leg; only somewhat, but enough to vary its trajectory.

Richarlíson did his best to readjust. The ball skipped off his foot and spun into the air. After which, instinct taking up, he leaped from the bottom, twisting and contorting his body in a pirouette, and because the ball reached its apex he met it with a full, pure volley. It flashed past the outstretched arm of Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, Serbia’s helpless goalkeeper. The Lusail stadium, as one, pursed its lips and inhaled. Brazil, ever so barely belatedly, had arrived.

There’s a definite possibility that moment might be seen, in somewhat lower than a month, because the moment that Brazil’s campaign in Qatar caught light. Richarlíson is, to some extent, probably the most disposable member of Tite’s glittering forward line, not a lot due to any shortcoming on his part but due to vaguely obscene options available ahead of him.

Neymar, in fact, is the star of the Brazil’s show, the player that loads of those flooding into the Lusail had come to see — his name, when the teams were read out before the sport, was greeted by a cheer roughly twice as loud as anyone else — but he’s, unlike within the previous iterations of the Seleçao which have dotted his profession, not alone.

  1. Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
  2. Nelson Almeida/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  3. Amanda Perobelli/Reuters
  4. Anne-Christine Poujoulat/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  5. Justin Setterfield/Getty Images
  6. Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
  7. Andrej Isakovic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  8. Dado Galdieri for The Recent York Times
  9. Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press
  10. Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
  11. Andrej Isakovic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  12. Moises Castillo/Associated Press

On one side, he has Vinicíus Junior, the gleaming way forward for Real Madrid, already the scorer of the winning goal in a Champions League final, and on the opposite Raphinha, a person beneficial enough that Barcelona mortgaged a superb portion of its future to sign him last summer. The alternatives on the bench include a player who cost Manchester United $100 million, and just isn’t even the primary reserve for his country.

It’s that supercharged armory, in fact, that has made Brazil favorite for this tournament, whatever the striking impressions revamped the primary round of games in Qatar by France, Spain and England. Its underpinnings, though, are not any less important: the poise and command of Casemiro in midfield; the experience and authority of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos in defense; the presence, as an option of last resort, of one of the best goalkeeper on the planet.

In those final 20 minutes, because the stadium recovered from its swoon, all of that fell into the sharpest relief possible. Richarlíson’s athleticism, his invention, looked as if it would have unlocked something in his teammates, to have reminded Brazil that it’s the largest and brightest show on the town, that it was time to dust this tournament with its unique, compelling glamour.

And so, swiftly, the sport reached the stage where Casemiro, the only real defensive midfielder, the one adult within the room, was breezily curling shots off the crossbar from 30 yards. Tite, as if keen to remind everyone else of what, precisely, they were coping with, spent the ultimate stages throwing on as many absurdly gifted attackers as he was permitted under the foundations. Here was Rodrygo, and Antony, and Gabriel Jésus; and when you liked them, wait until you see Gabriel Martinelli.

That level of resource should, in fact, provide some solace to the one sour note of the evening: the sight of Neymar hobbling from the sphere, his right ankle visibly swollen after suffering a heavy tackle. Though Alex Sandro, the left back, assured the news media after the sport that Neymar was “fantastic,” and Tite said that he was confident the team would have him available, it did little to chill Brazil’s collective fever.

The early suggestions had it that the Paris St.-Germain forward had suffered a sprain, but a nation found itself on tenterhooks. Regardless of how glistening the alternatives, irrespective of how enviable Brazil’s strength in depth, this stays a team constructed around and on behalf of Neymar. It’s on his shoulders that the country’s hopes of the crown lie.

That’s what Brazil expects, in spite of everything. It has been 20 years because it last conquered the world, because it last occupied what it regards as its rightful throne. It has waited long enough. In Qatar, nothing lower than victory will do.

That is purported to be a month that those Brazilian fans who’ve made the journey to the Gulf, and the nation as a complete, will always remember, 4 weeks of flashbulb moments and sculpted memories, a tournament by which Tite’s team leaves the remainder of the world gasping for air.

Because of Richarlíson, Brazil has the primary of those moments. The belief, from all of those inside Lusail, once they’d caught their breath, was that it should not be the last. Brazil, finally, has arrived.

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