The United States Men’s National Team will face a difficult challenge as it takes on a Brazil squad loaded with attacking talent Friday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Ranked #3 in the FIFA World Rankings, O Seleção will look to bounce back from a disappointing World Cup in which it crashed out in the quarter-finals with a 2-1 loss to Belgium.
Brazil will be heavily favored in this match, as it holds an all-time 17-1 record against the U.S. The Seleção comes into its first post-World Cup match with a 3-1-1 record in its last 5 games.
The Brazil roster is headlined by Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar and features several other names that will likely be familiar to USMNT fans including Roberto Firmino, Thiago Silva, and Philippe Coutinho.
While this squad is undoubtedly talented, it is missing several regulars such as left back Marcelo, right back Fagner (who will miss out due to injury), and forward Gabriel Jesus.
Defenders (8): Alex Sandro (Juventus), Dedé (Cruzeiro), Eder Militao (FC Porto), Fabinho (Liverpool), Felipe (FC Porto), Filipe Luís (Atlético Madrid), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain)
Forwards (5): Douglas Costa (Juventus), Éverton (Grêmio), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Richarlison (Everton)
Look for head coach Tite to deploy an aggressive 4-3-3 formation. The key for him will be finding the right balance between attack and defense, as this roster features few midfielders that work hard defensively.
I am assuming Tite will play something close to his strongest Starting XI, although stars such as Neymar may be substituted early.
Alisson should start in goal. He is the clear #1 on this roster and was in excellent form with 3 shutouts in 3 Premier League games this season before his horrendous gaffe against Leicester City this past weekend. He’s a solid stopper who is good with the ball at his feet.
Neymar’s PSG teammates, Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, should feature as centerbacks. Silva and Marquinhos are both excellent 1-v-1 defenders and passers. They complement each other well as Silva excels in the air and is rather slow, whereas Marquinhos struggles aerially but is quite fast.
It’s difficult to predict who will start at left back as Alex Sandro and Filipe Luis are both talented options. Sandro is an athletic defender who crosses the ball well and looks to get involved in the attack. Luis is less athletic, but is a better 1-v-1 defender. Unlike Sandro, Luis does not provide an offensive threat.
Eder Militao, a late addition to the roster, is the squad’s only natural right back. However, due to his inexperience (he’s 20 years old and uncapped), it would not be surprising to see somebody else start at right back. It’s possible that either Luis or Sandro will be played out of position as a right back.
Casemiro will likely feature as a defensive midfielder. The Real Madrid man is a great tackler with a high workrate. Fred should also get the nod in central midfield. He is a two-way midfielder who excels at man making and offers this attack heavy roster a defensive presence.
Brazil coach Tite has an abundance of attacking options and is at risk of deploying an overly attacking lineup that will be extremely vulnerable to counter-attacks. I believe he will use Coutinho in center midfield, although it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Barcelona man left out in favor of a more defensive-minded player such as Andreas Pereira.
Coutinho has excellent vision and is a world-class passer who can pick apart just about any defense. He’s quite capable of scoring from distance, but arguably doesn’t get on the scoresheet as much as he should. Additionally, he offers almost nothing defensively.
Look for Neymar to start at left attacking midfield. There’s not much to say about him that hasn’t already been said. He’s a world-class player who is almost impossible to stop. The U.S.’s best chance to contain him is by frequently fouling and double teaming him.
Chelsea winger Willian should get the start as a right-attacking midfielder. Willian is very fast and an excellent crosser of the ball. Look for Roberto Firmino to play as a false nine. Firmino is an amazing dribbler, has an excellent passing range, and is an elite finisher. His only real weakness is that he struggles to win aerial duels.
Brazil should have little trouble defeating the United States, and this game could be a blowout. Look for the Seleção to dominate possession, but this attack heavy team will likely be vulnerable on the counter-attack. I’m predicting a 4-1 Brazil victory.