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Richarlison, Brazil and, possibly, the beginning of something special.


It’s that supercharged armory, after all, 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 the perfect 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. Richarlison’s athleticism, his invention, appeared to 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, abruptly, the sport reached the stage where Casemiro, the only 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 if you happen to liked them, wait until you see Gabriel Martinelli.

That level of resource should, after all, provide some solace to the one sour note of the evening: the sight of Neymar hobbling from the sector, 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.

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