It was not an easy match despite everyone’s expectation regarding the third round of the World Cup Qualifying for the South American national teams. Brazil were resentful with the absence of Ligue 1 player Neymar and only scored one goal against Venezuela to secure the win.

This tactical analysis will show the methods of Brazil’s manager to keep the team in shape facing the strong defence of Venezuela. We’ll check how the Brazilian team got stuck in his tactics while Jose Peseiro made Venezuela more solid.

Lineups and formations

World Cup Qualifying: Brazil vs Venezuela - tactical analysis tactics

Tite had to make a few changes to this round of matches in the Conmebol World Cup Qualifying. Neymar, Phillipe Coutinho and the Real Madrid player Casemiro weren’t available, so Gabriel Jesus, Everton Ribeiro and Allan, Everton’s player, were their respective replacements. To keep it’s traditional 4-1-4-1, Brazil’s manager had to position the players a little differently of how they play in their clubs. We’ll see more of that in the next paragraphs.

Venezuela’s manager Peseiro didn’t change much the team compared with the last matches. The 4-5-1 formation was established to held Brazil in the middle section. With blocks of three to four defenders in each side, Tomás Rincon, Darwin Machis and Yeferson Soteldo were the key players to the movements of defence and offence.

Holding Brazil’s offensive transition

The only strategy for Venezuela in this match was to hold Brazil in the middle and to prevent the opponent to break the lines. To accomplish that Peseiro set a strong five-line midfield very compact to follows Brazil’s passing control.

In the image below we see the team aligned in the middle with two very compact lines to prevent penetrations through the inside. 

World Cup Qualifying: Brazil vs Venezuela - tactical analysis tactics

Rincon, the defensive midfielder, was the key player that was moving from the left to the right all the time. Where Brazil’s moved the ball, Venezuela midfielders follow the ball to keep a tight pressure in that area. 

Constantly we noticed Machis on the right and Soteldo on the left supporting Junior Moreno and Cristian Casseres on the opponent’s pressure. Venezuela always had three or four players closing Brazil’s passing triangulations as we can see in the image below.

World Cup Qualifying: Brazil vs Venezuela - tactical analysis tactics

The well-mounted defence of Venezuela was successful not only because the players follow the manager’s instructions very consistently, but also because the Brazilian players were easily involved by the opponent’s actions. Venezuela had only 27% of ball possession. The intention was clearly to not having the ball. At least they managed to give one shot on target against only three of Brazil.

Brazil had 36 positional attacks but only seven of them ended up with a shot. Most of the time Venezuela midfielders intercept the pass or the play. It was 44 interceptions, 17 clearances in the match with 74% of defensive duels won.

Positional movements, static players

Tite decided to keep the same tactical movements that were effective in the last round of WC Qualifying. But with different players, the things didn’t come out as expected.

Again Tite chose to set the offensive transition in 2-3-2-3 formation with the left-back Lodi playing open wide on the left-wing. The image below shows the positioning to try to create player superiority in the final third with Roberto Firmino and Everton Ribeiro being the players that fluctuate between the middle and the attack.

World Cup Qualifying: Brazil vs Venezuela - tactical analysis tactics

The issue was that Venezuela always had players closing the lines in the sides. Lodi had a few chances to create space to go deep in the pitch. Brazil had 20 attacks on the left side but Lodi didn’t give any key or smart pass in the entire match. In fact, the most pass distribution from him was to Thiago Silva, the centre-back. The attacking trio Firmino, Jesus and Richarlison were only reached three times from Lodi.

In the first half, Lodi gave 4 crosses to the penalty area but only one was accurate. The second half he was even more blocked and didn’t tried any cross. Instead, with the entering of Lucas Paquetá in the middle, Lodi was making back-passes so Paquetá can have more space to cross. 

The image below shows the frame where Lodi has no space with four defenders of Venezuela blocking the left side. Lodi then passes the ball back to Paqueta try the cross.

World Cup Qualifying: Brazil vs Venezuela - tactical analysis tactics

When Brazil plays with Neymar and Coutinho fluctuating the middle, the team has more moves. Those players are always looking for spaces. Firmino and Everton Ribeiro didn’t work in the same position because they don’t execute the same functions for their clubs. Perhaps Tite took too long to realise he needed players to confront the defence on 1vs1.

Tactical variation

Around minute 80, we were able to notice a slight variation in the tactical model adopted by Tite. The scoreboard was already 1-0 to Brazil and Tite decided not to change earlier. When Everton and Pedro entered the pitch replacing Jesus and Richarlison we were able to see a 4-3-3 offensive formation.

Benfica’s player Everton plays on the left-wing and has excellent skills to dribble the opponents. Pedro entered to be the striker while Firmino was more centralised. The image below shows Lodi in the left-back with Paqueta, Allan and Firmino in the line of three in the middle.

World Cup Qualifying: Brazil vs Venezuela - tactical analysis tactics

That positioning creates the possibility to explore the best quality of the players in their original positions. Everton in the left can dribble and finish on goal as he currently does for his club. Firmino can be an excellent assister as he is in Liverpool. Everton Ribeiro on the right was able to be an option for inversion passes like he is in Flamengo. 

The end of the match we notice Venezuela advancing their lines to try to tie the match. Brazil was able to control the match and not be bothered too hard.

Conclusion

Brazil’s tactics chosen by Tite to improve the national team performance suffered a hit in this match against Venezuela. Without the key players that generate rapid movements and dynamism, the Brazilian team got stuck into the system without potential line breakers. Tite has an interesting model to keep improving. But as written in this analysis there can be no chance for inflexibility. With players out of its best positions otherwise the team will struggle against solid defences.

Venezuela’s manager knows this isn’t the best generation of players, but he has a good team that can give the opponent’s a hard time. Against Brazil, the solid defence almost gave one point to the “Vinotintos” in the tournament.  We were able to see in this analysis the team can be compact and very tight in the middle to block the penalty area and not give a chance to the opponent. Working on the offensive transition can be a turning point to the national team in the competition.

Gabriel Pinto