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

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

“You’ll go Pombo here alone,” laughed Tite. The Brazil coach had just finished his media duties for the evening, espresso cup in hand exhausted. “I’m not going to be able to kiss Richarlison?” he said, disappointed. Brazil’s match winner has been tied up in doping control, awaiting the call of nature.

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

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

Despite Tite’s confidence that Neymar will “continue to play in the World Cup”, past injuries in this competition are a haunting theme in his career and will keep him fit.

Richarlison promised to go through his room at the Westin before going to bed. “When I get to the hotel, I’ll go see how he is,” he said. Richarlison is unlikely to sleep, with the buzz after scoring the tournament goal unlikely to die down on the short bus ride from Lusail.

“I think it was a nice goal,” he said. “I’ve scored a goal like this before for Fluminense and Everton. Today I had the opportunity to score an acrobatic goal, perhaps one of the best goals of my career. It was a tough game so I think it was one of the best of my career. Scissor kicks are a Richarlison trademark, after all. He has even

during a training camp in Turin last week.

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

It is practice makes perfect. At halftime against Serbia, the score still 0-0, Richarlison gathered his teammates around him and said that something had to change. “I told them I needed a ball and it came, I was ready and I managed to score.”

The first was a tap-in after Vanja Milinkovic-Savic knocked down a shot from Vini Jnr. 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 the essência do brasileiro – the very essence of a Brazilian. This goal proved it.

On the metro going to the match, there were fans from all over the world who traveled to Lusail to watch Brazil. The idea that they play football the way it should with skill and flair lives on, it has a hold on the imagination.

The wealthy Qataris in Brazil wanted to show their children what football is all about. Richarlison’s goal was exactly that, the manifestation of the Brazilian ideal dating back to Pelé and Garrincha in 1958.

It started with an outside cross from the foot of Vinicius Jnr, Richarlison then stunned the ball with his left, lifted the ball high in the air, placed one hand on the ground and turned his right foot over it, Capoeira style, hooking a shot past the unprepared Milinkovic-Savic.

As with his first goal, the entire Brazil 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 can’t be explained,” he said. “These are feelings.” The 61-year-old, dressed in a cobalt blue suit, wanted to convey “how much work is behind that goal”.

He spoke about the physios, who are now working on Neymar, who helped get Richarlison back into shape after the calf injury he suffered against former club Everton in mid-October.

Richarlison was “scared”, panicked at the idea that this could disrupt his World Cup. Tite was also concerned.

When Gabriel Jesus was sent off in the 2019 Copa America final against Peru, potentially damaging Brazil’s chances of winning the competition, Richarlison came on and coolly 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 like O’Professor (Tite) says,” Richarlison recalled to all the world on Thursday evening. He “feels” the goals. This is why he is chosen from Jesus in form of Arsenal.

Seeking to explain Serbia’s 2-0 defeat, their coach, the legendary Piksi Stojkovic, said: “We are not Brazil with 200 million people (your choice). We are a small nation. If Dusan Vlahovic and Filip Kostic are injured and Aleksandar Mitrovic isn’t fully fit, that’s a problem.

Tite, on the other hand, spoke about his options, in Qatar and those he had left at home like Copa Libertadores-winning striker Gabriel Barbosa, Roberto Firmino, Matheus Cunha and Hulk. This serves to underline the competition Richarlison put up to claim the No.9 jersey.

It is one over 200m. “It’s a childhood dream come true,” smiles Richarlison.

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

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