Inter defender Joao Miranda credits Italian football with Brazil’s newfound solidity. “We learned a lot from Serie A about defending.”
The Selecao have swept through to the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and will face Dries Mertens’ Belgium on Friday July 6.
Even without Italy, betting on the World Cup is interesting and it looks like a wide open field, as the likes of reigning champions Germany, Spain, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Euro 2016 winners Portugal and Leo Messi’s Argentina have all crashed out already.
The final eight in the tournament are Uruguay, France, Brazil, Belgium, Russia, Croatia, Sweden and England, so of that group, Brazil would be considered the stand-out favourites to lift the trophy for a record sixth time.
Tite’s team conceded only one goal in their four games so far, during the opening 1-1 draw with Switzerland, having beaten Costa Rica, Serbia and Mexico 2-0.
“This Selecao is different to those of the past,” Inter centre-back Miranda told El Pais.
“We are defensively strong, we concede very few goals and at any moment of the match we know that our forwards can score a goal.
“In this World Cup, the teams are very well-organised in defence and the attacks are extremely quick.”
Thiago Silva also has plenty of Serie A experience from his time at Milan, even if he is currently plying his trade for Paris Saint-Germain. Silva has been at PSG since his 2012 departure from San Siro, having made more than 100 appearances for the Rossoneri in a three-season stint.
He won the 2010-11 Scudetto while at the club, making his debut in August 2009 against Siena and partnering Alessandro Nesta. Silva was voted Milan’s player of the year in the title-winning 2011 season, but moved in summer 2012 after reports his sale was needed to help balance the club’s accounts.
Miranda meanwhile plays for Inter, while goalkeeper Alisson Becker impressed a great deal at Roma last season.
“I would say it is quite an Italian style of Brazil team, as we do focus on the defensive movements more,” continued Miranda.
“Thiago Silva and I both learned a lot from Serie A about defending.”
Miranda turns 34 in September and has been at Inter since 2015, making his €13m transfer from Atletico Madrid. Miranda spent four seasons with Los Colchoneros, having also had a brief experience of European football with French outfit Sochaux in 2005-06.
After struggling to settle in France following a move from Coritiba, Miranda returned to Brazil with Sao Paulo. He made more than 150 appearances for the club, winning the Brazilian League title three times - in 2006, 2007 and 2008 - and being named to the League’s Team of the Year every year from 2007 to 2010 inclusive.
Miranda’s international bow came while a Sao Paulo player too, coming off the bench in a 2009 World Cup qualifier against Peru. He was also part of the squad that won that year’s Confederations Cup in South Africa, but spent four years out of the squad until Luiz Felipe Scolari issued a recall in 2013.
His time at Atletico Madrid delivered the 2013-14 La Liga title, the 2012-13 Copa del Rey, the 2012 Europa League and a runners-up medal in the 2013-14 Champions League when Atleti were beaten by city rivals Real Madrid in the final in Lisbon. Miranda started the game partnering Diego Godin at centre-back but Atletico were beaten 4-1, despite Godin opening the scoring for Diego Simeone’s side before half-time.
Atleti held the lead until Sergio Ramos’ injury time equaliser, and eventually succumbed to further goals from Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo.
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