Roberto Firmino, Brazil Beat Czech Republic 3-1 in 2019 Friendly Action

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIMarch 26, 2019

PORTO, PORTUGAL - MARCH 23: Gabriel Jesus of Brazil reacts during the International Friendly match between Brazil and Panama at Estadio do Dragao on March 23, 2019 in Porto, Portugal. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Brazil continued their preparations for the 2019 Copa America with a 3-1 win over the Czech Republic in an international friendly on Tuesday.

The hosts produced a spirited response to Friday's 5-0 hammering by England and took the lead on 37 minutes through David Pavelka's powerful strike from just outside the penalty area.

However, Brazil hit back within minutes of the restart. Roberto Firmino took advantage of some poor defending to slide the ball past goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka.

Tite's men improved as the half wore on and scored twice in the final 10 minutes through substitute Gabriel Jesus to secure a deserved win.


Jesus A Better Fit For Brazil Than Firmino

Firmino has proved beyond doubt he's an excellent striker during his time at Liverpool, but the Brazilian is simply not the right fit for Tite's team.

The 27-year-old started against the Czech Republic and played 87 minutes, but Brazil suffered from a lack of cohesion in attack with Firmino, Richarlison and Philippe Coutinho.

Football writer Tim Stillman offered his view:

Tim Stillman @Stillberto

Firmino is a really good player but I can’t remember him playing well for Brazil for a long time, nor can I remember Brazil playing well when he’s started. Jesus fits far better with the other attackers in the team.

Brazil barely threatened in the opening 45 minutes against a Czech Republic team that were hammered 5-0 by England on Friday. 

Firmino did manage to get his name on the scoresheet, but his goal was the result of some awful defending by the hosts that gifted the striker the ball.

Brazil improved in the second half but looked far more dangerous once David Neres, Arthur and Jesus had entered the fray.

The trio combined superbly to put Brazil 2-1 up on 82 minutes with Jesus arriving at the far post to apply the finish.

The third goal was the product of some even neater interplay by Brazil. Again Neres was involved and although Jesus saw his first shot blocked, he responded quickly to tap home the rebound:

The Sportsman @TheSportsman

🇧🇷🤙 Gabriel Jesus, living his best life... - Comes on in the 72nd minute - Scores a brace to win the game 3-1 What a talent! #MCFC https://t.co/ISOLOrx9zP

It was an impressive impact from the Manchester City striker, and Brazil looked far more dangerous when he was on the pitch with his intelligent movement, willingness to make runs and poacher's instinct. 


Barcelona Struggles Have Wrecked Coutinho's Confidence

Coutinho has endured a tough first full season with Barcelona. A combination of injury and poor form have seen him lose his place in the starting XI to Ousmane Dembele and be relegated to the bench.

His current situation at the Camp Nou have also seen him linked with a move away from the club. Barcelona are willing to listen to offers for their record signing, according to Danny Gallagher for MailOnline.

The former Liverpool man could have been forgiven for being relieved to head away on international duty, but he's been unable to find his best form in Brazil's games against Panama and the Czech Republic.

The 26-year-old looks shorn of confidence and a shadow of the player who was so influential for Brazil at the 2018 FIFA World Cup:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Coutinho: No player has made more key passes from open play than @Phil_Coutinho (11) in the 2018 #WorldCup For more player stats -- https://t.co/UklSKJhDvE https://t.co/usnJneYmzi

Manager Tite will have wanted his senior players such as Coutinho to step up while Neymar is out injured, but the Barcelona man was unable to provide the creativity required to unlock a determined Czech side.

He did still manage to show a few glimpses of the skill he possesses:

GiveMeSport Football @GMS__Football

Philippe Coutinho hasn’t totally lost his confidence, then 🔥 🇧🇷 #FCB #BRAxCZE https://t.co/kgpubOsm5f

However, he was unable to influence proceedings, and it was little surprise to see him replaced on 72 minutes for Jesus with the game still locked at 1-1.

The arrival of Arthur and Jesus for the closing stages helped Brazil look far more dangerous and allowed them to secure the win with two well-worked goals.

Coutinho's situation at Barcelona will be of concern for Tite ahead of the Copa America, with Brazil missing his craft and ability to pop up with important goals.


What's Next?

Brazil have no further fixtures scheduled currently before the start of the 2019 Copa America. They kick off the tournament against Bolivia on June 14. The Czech Republic continue their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign against Bulgaria on June 7.