“You will leave Pombo here alone,” Tite laughed. The Brazil coach had just finished his media duties for the evening, a cup of espresso in hand. “I won’t be able to hug Richarlison?” he said disappointed. Brazil’s match-winner was tied up in anti-doping control, awaiting nature’s call.
“I’m trying to pee, it’s hard,” Richarlison said, although he was not letting time go to waste.
“I was able to call Ney and see how he was doing,” Richarlison revealed. Neymar had buried his head in his yellow-green shirt to hide tears after spraining his right ankle, “fooling” Titi by playing through the pain barrier for another 11 minutes against Serbia. “I told him to put ice on him,” Richarlison said, as if he were a member of Brazil’s medical staff.
Despite Tite’s belief that Neymar will “continue to play at the World Cup”, past injuries at the competition have been a haunting theme of his career and one that will hold him back.
Richarlison promised to catch up to his room at the Westin before bed. “When I get to the hotel, I’ll go see how he’s doing,” he said. Richarlison is unlikely to take a nap and the goal of the tournament is unlikely to disappear on the short bus ride from Lusail.
“I thought it was a beautiful goal,” he said. “I’ve already scored goals like that at Fluminense and Everton. Today I had the chance to score an acrobatic goal, probably one of the nicest goals of my career. It was a tough match, so I think it was one of the nicest of my career. Scissors in the end is a Richarlison trademark.He even scored one last week in training camp in Turin.
“It’s practice,” Fred said in the mixed area. “It’s not easy to get there and score. This is the result of his and the whole group’s training.
Practice makes perfect. At half-time against Serbia, with the score still 0-0, Richarlison gathered his teammates around him and said something had to change. “I told them I needed the ball and it came, I was ready and I managed to score.”
The first was a touch after Vanja Milinkovic-Savic spilled Vini Jnr’s shot. The second was something else. Earlier this week, Richarlison’s team-mate Pedro, a contender for Brazil’s starting striker role, said the Tottenham Hotspur forward had essenza do brasileiro – the very essence of the Brazilian. This goal proved that.
Taking the subway to the game, fans from all over the world traveled to Lusail to watch Brazil. The idea that they play football the way it should be played with flair and skill lives on, it captures the imagination.
Wealthy Qataris in Brazil shirts wanted to show their children what football is all about. Richarlison’s goal was just that, an expression of the Brazilian ideal that goes back to Pele and Garrincha’s 1958.
It started with Vinicius Jnr’s off-foot cross, Richarlison then stunned the ball with his left hand, lifted the ball high in the air, put his hand on the floor and turned it Capoeira-style with his right foot for a shot. past the certified Milinkovic-Savic.
As with his first goal, the entire Brazilian bench jumped out of the dugout and ran to the corner flag to celebrate with him and the rest of the team.
Even Tite got excited. “Sometimes feelings can’t be explained,” he said. “It’s feelings.” Dressed in a cobalt blue suit, the 61-year-old wanted to convey “how much work goes into this goal”.
He spoke of the physios, now working under Neymar, who have helped Richarlison get back into shape after a calf injury he picked up against former club Everton in mid-October.
Richarlison was ‘terrified’, panicking that it could derail his World Cup. Tite was also worried.
When Gabriel Jesus was sent off in the 2019 Copa America final against Peru, potentially jeopardizing Brazil’s chances of winning the tournament, Richarlison stepped on and scored the game-killing penalty.
He was the top scorer in the 2020 Olympics when Brazil won the gold medal and Brazil’s top scorer in 2022. “It’s as O’Professor (Tite) says,” Richarlison reminded everyone on Thursday night. He “smells” the goal. That is why he is being hailed as Arsenal’s in-form Jesus.
Trying to explain Serbia’s 2-0 defeat, their coach, the legendary Pixi Stojkovic, said: “We are not Brazil with 200 million people (to choose from). We’re a small nation.” With Dusan Vlahovic and Filip Kostic injured and Aleksandar Mitrovic not fully fit, that’s a problem.
On the other hand, Tite questioned his chances in Qatar and those he left at home, such as Copa Libertadores-winning striker Gabriel Barbosa, Roberto Firmino, Matheus Cunha and Hulk. It serves to underline Richarlison’s competition to make the No.9 shirt his own.
He is alone in the 200 m. “It’s a kid’s dream come true,” Richarlison smiled.
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(Photo: Markus Gilliar – GES Sportfoto/Getty Images)