Neymar looks as good as new and other Brazil talking points from win over Austria

Matt Jones 10/06/2018
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Brazil came through a testing fixture against a tenacious Austria with a 3-0 triumph on Sunday, some of the football played by Tite’s side a joy to behold.

Victory in Vienna was not a given as the hosts made their Russia-bound opponents work for their win.

Three sublime goals were scored, Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus curling them ahead in the first half.

Neymar added a second following the break, with Philippe Coutinho sealing victory soon after, as the Samba Boys danced to an eventually convincing victory.

Neymar as good as new

Neymar showed no ill effects of the injury that had sidelined him since February.

Neymar showed no ill effects of the injury that had sidelined him since February.

Having made his return from injury in last week’s 2-0 win over Croatia, Neymar started his first game in more than three months and looked like he’d never been away.

There was no sense of easing him in gently back into the fold to get him back up to full speed. He was sharp and lively from kick-off and even shrugged off a worrying early knock to run the show.

It’s clear that injury or no injury, he is going to remain Brazil’s focal point and coach Tite is not going to alter the strategy that ensures play goes through their talisman.

Brazil’s attack bristled throughout, but it was clear the Paris Saint-Germain star was the one orchestrating play.

He brought out all his tricks and flicks in an impressive performance, a fierce 18th-minute shot showing his injury has not taken away any of his power.

He grabbed a goal in the 63rd minute that killed the game and showed the 31 other teams in the World Cup that the injury to the Selecao star hasn’t seen him lose any of his killer instinct, as he sat down Aleksandar Dragovic before calmly rolling under Heinz Lindner. Dragovic was hauled off shortly after.

It was his 55th for his country, which moves him into third place all-time alongside Romario. And he’s only 26.

He linked effortlessly with team-mates – one sumptuous backheel for substitute Roberto Firmino deserved a finish, only overworked Austria stopper Lindner denying a fourth with a superb stop with his left boot.

A valuable experiment

Marko Arnautovic and Austria provided a stern test for Brazil.

Marko Arnautovic and Austria provided a stern test for Brazil.

Much has been made of the standard of opposition lined up by some of the elite nations heading into the World Cup.

While fellow South American giants Argentina have warmed up with a 4-0 thrashing of Haiti and two games, including against 132nd ranked Nicaragua, cancelled, Tite has severely challenged his players.

They began with that 2-0 win against fellow World Cup participants Croatia last week, while Austria provided robust opposition.

Franco Foda’s men are no slouches and are ranked 26th in the world. They possess plenty of experience and talent in versatile Bayern Munich man David Alaba, tenacious Bayern Leverkusen midfielder Julian Baumgartlinger and maverick West Ham attacker Marko Arnautovic.

And despite not having a World Cup to prepare for – they have not appeared now in 20 years – Foda’s side were not giving an inch, enjoying plenty of the ball and testing the Brazilian defence, especially in a highly competitive first half.

The season has long been over for their players, but they thundered into the challenge presented to them – with 14 fouls committed against Canarinho players.

They may not have appreciated it during the 90 minutes but this was a character building exercise for the men in yellow.

European feel to Brazil side

Philippe Coutinho is one of 19 European-based players in Brazil's 23-man squad.

Philippe Coutinho is one of 19 European-based players in Brazil’s 23-man squad.

If it seems there is a heavy European feel to this Brazil squad – it’s because there is. Nineteen of Tite’s 23 ply their trade in the world’s footballing heartlands. Only four of the squad are based outside – Corinthians duo Cassio and Fagner, Gremio’s Pedro Geromel and Renato Augusto who represents Beijing Sinobo Guoan in the Chinese Super League.

It is the second highest European contingent to make up a Brazil squad at a World Cup, with 20 European-based players selected by the Selecao in both 2006 and 2010.

What it leads to is harmony in the squad and an understanding that was obvious against Austria, even though they may be some way off reaching peak form for Russia.

Most of the squad are familiar with each other having come face to face with each other for their various club sides this season in the Champions League. Meanwhile, Casemiro and Marcelo, Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho, Neymar and Thiago Silva and Gabriel Jesus and Danilo are team-mates at Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City respectively, so are even more in tune with one another.

All in all it adds up to a squad in harmony with each other. In the second half this resembled a training session for Brazil and they look primed for a real push to land a record-extending sixth Jules Rimet trophy.

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Neymar on target as Brazil thrash Austria 3-0 in World Cup warm-up

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Sensational goal: Neymar

Neymar’s scintillating goal drew him level with Romario in Brazil’s all time top scorers list as they cruised to a 3-0 win against Austria.

The Paris St Germain striker scored his 55th goal for his country in Sunday’s victory, their final World Cup warm-up match.

He is now equal third in Brazil’s scoring charts with Romario and only behind Ronaldo (62) and Pele (77) after scoring in Vienna.

Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring while Philippe Coutinho added a third in the second half.

The victory capped Brazil’s World Cup preparations ahead of their opener in Russia against Switzerland next Sunday.

Tite’s side – out to put right their 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany four years ago – also face Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E.

An open start saw Casemiro fire wide after eight minutes and 10 minutes later Neymar tested Heinz Lindner, shooting straight at the goalkeeper from 25 yards.

Austria almost opened the scoring after 20 minutes when Alessandro Schopf volleyed just wide following Alisson’s punch.

Paulinho went close when his drive was turned wide by Lindner but it was only a temporary reprieve as Brazil scored from the resulting corner nine minutes before the break.

Austria only half cleared and Marcelo’s drive deflected to Jesus for the forward to curl in from an angle.

Four minutes later Lindner gathered Philippe Coutinho’s drive and Austria survived again after a mix-up between Sebastian Prodl and Lindner almost let Jesus in.

In first-half injury time Marko Arnautovic nearly found an opening after Aleksandar Dragovic’s pass but could not connect.

Austria remained in the game and dominated possession early in the second half and gave Coutinho and Neymar some rough treatment, to the frustration of Brazil.

But Neymar got his goal when he latched onto Willian’s pass and stunning footwork saw him slot in after 63 minutes.

Coutinho then made it 3-0 six minutes later when he swapped passes with former Liverpool team-mate Roberto Firmino and curled a finish around Lindner.

Barcelona star Coutinho hit the bar with 16 minutes left when he nearly caught Lindner out.

Austria nearly grabbed a consolation but Alisson – who had been a second-half spectator – turned Stefan Hierlander’s drive over before Arnautovic fizzed a shot wide with four minutes remaining.

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Brazil player ratings as Neymar and Coutinho score an 8 in 3-0 win over Austria

Denzil Pinto 10/06/2018
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On target: Neymar

Brazil sent out another reminder why they are one of the favourites for the World Cup after thrashing Austria 3-0 in their final warm-up game on Sunday.

Goals from Gabriel Jesus, Neymar and Coutinho sealed the deserved win in what was an impressive performance by the Samba Boys.

For Neymar, he is now Brazil’s third highest goal scorer with 55 goals – level with legend Romario.

Here are our player ratings from the match in Vienna.

Alisson 7: – Picked up a knock in the first half but the shot-stopper was largely a spectator before pulling off a wonder save in the 81st minute.

Marcelo 7: – A constant threat down the left flank and was rewarded when his attempted shot set up the assist for Jesus’ opener.

Miranda 8: – Given the armband for the match, the Inter Milan defender didn’t disappoint. Led by example by frustrating Austria’s attackers.

Thiago Silva 6: – Picked up where he left off from Anfield with another strong display.

Danilo 6: – Like Marcelo, the City defender wasn’t afraid going forward when needed and did a solid job with his defensive duties.

Philippe Coutinho 8:– Took time to find his rhythm but when he did, caused problems for Austria with his skill and vision. Saw his long-range shot palmed away in the first half but showed his quality to beat his marker and score the team’s third.

Casemiro 7: – Broke up play well and even pressed forward, having his team’s first shot of the match. Upped his game especially when Austria were dangerous on the break.

Paulinho 6: – Saw much of the ball early on and despite being denied by the goalkeeper, was dangerous when Brazil broke.

Neymar 8:– Was closely marked early on but as the game continued, Brazil’s attack opened up, allowing Neymar the freedom to show his qualities. Finished a smart move, by marrying quick skill with a cool finish.

Gabriel Jesus 7:– Was in an offside position in the build-up to his goal but showed why he is highly-rated with a clinical finish. Unlucky not to double his tally.

Willian 7: – Not as dangerous as he was against Croatia but proved effective enough by picking out Neymar with deft pass for the team’s second.

SUBS:

Roberto Firmino 6: – The Liverpool forward made a big impact and unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet.

Marquinhos 6: – Had a busy time and blocked out any danger that came his way.

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