Richarlison shows why he’s one in 200 million for Brazil

“You will go Pombo only here,” Tite laughed. The Brazilian coach had just finished his media duties that afternoon, the espresso cup in his hand finished. “I won’t be able to hug Richarlison?” he said disappointed. The winner of the Brazilian match is tied up in anti-doping controls, waiting for nature’s call.

“I’m trying to pee, it’s hard,” Richarlison said, though he didn’t let the moment go to waste.

“I was able to call Ney and see how he is,” revealed Richarlison. Neymar buried his head in his yellow and green jersey to hide tears after spraining his right ankle, “fooling” Tite by playing through the pain barrier for another 11 minutes against Serbia. “I told him to put ice on it,” Richarlison said as if he were a member of Brazil’s medical staff.

While Tite is confident Neymar will “keep playing at the World Cup”, past injuries in this competition have been a haunting theme in his career and will keep him going.

Richarlison promised to swing by his room at the Westin before bed. “When I get to the hotel, I’ll go see what’s going on,” he said. Richarlison may not sleep, the buzz of scoring a championship goal is unlikely to fade on the short bus ride from Lusail.

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“I thought it was a beautiful goal,” he said. “I have already scored goals like that for Fluminense and Everton. Today I had the chance to score an acrobatic goal, probably one of the best goals of my career. It was a tough match so I think it was one of the best of my career.” After all, the scissor kick is Richarlison’s trademark. He too score one at the training camp in Turin last week.

“It’s a result of training,” said Fred in the mixed zone. “It’s not easy to get there and score. It is the result of his training and the whole group.”

Practice makes perfect. At half-time against Serbia, the score still 0-0, Richarlison gathered his team-mates 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 shot in after Vanja Milinkovic-Savic spilled Vini Jnr’s shot. The second is something else. Earlier this week, team-mate Richarlison Pedro, a contender for Brazil’s main striker role, said the Tottenham Hotspur striker had essenza do brasileiro — the essence of a Brazilian. This goal proves it.

In the metro going to the game, there are fans from all over the world heading to Lusail to watch Brazil. Their idea of ​​playing football because it should be played with flair and defensive skills, it has a hold on the imagination.

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Affluent Qataris in Brazil want to show their kids about soccer. Richarlison’s goal was spot on, a manifestation of the Brazilian ideal going back to Pele and Garrincha in 1958.

It started with an off-foot cross from Vinicius Jnr, Richarlison then snapped the ball with his left, lifted the ball high into the air, put his hands on the floor and turned his right foot, Capoeira-style, to loop the shot past the abandoned Milinkovic-Savic.

Like his first goal, the entire Brazilian bench jumped out of the dugout and sprinted to the corner flag to celebrate with him and the rest of the team.

Even Tite got carried away. “Sometimes feelings are indescribable,” he said. “It’s a feeling.” The 61-year-old, dressed in a cobalt blue suit, wanted to convey “how much effort is behind that goal.”

He spoke about the physiotherapist, now working with Neymar, who helped Richarlison recover from the calf injury he suffered against former club Everton in mid-October.

Richarlison was “scared”, panicked that it might interfere with his World Cup. Tite is also concerned.

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When Gabriel Jesus was sent off in the 2019 Copa America final against Peru, potentially jeopardizing Brazil’s chances of winning the competition, Richarlison stepped in and calmly scored the game-killing penalty.

He was the top scorer at the 2020 Olympics when Brazil won the gold medal and Brazil’s top scorer in 2022. “It’s like O’Professor (Tite) said,” Richarlison reminded everyone on Thursday night. He “smells” the goal. That’s why he was chosen to replace Jesus in Arsenal form.

Wanting to explain Serbia’s 2-0 defeat, their coach, the legendary Piksi Stojkovic, said: “We are not Brazil with 200m people (to be selected). We are a small country.” If Dusan Vlahovic and Filip Kostic are injured and Aleksandar Mitrovic is not fully fit, that’s a problem.

Tite instead struggled with his options, in Qatar and those he left behind at home such as Copa Libertadores-winning strikers Gabriel Barbosa, Roberto Firmino, Matheus Cunha and Hulk. It served to underline Richarlison’s rivalry to make the No.9 jersey his own.

He is one in the 200m. “It’s a childhood dream come true,” smiled Richarlison.

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(Photo: Markus Gilliar – GES Sportfoto/Getty Images)


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