For a country where the game of football is no less than a religion, the stature of Brazil has fallen considerably. The cataclysmic 2014 World Cup semi-final against Germany was arguably one of the most embarrassing moments the men in yellow had to undergo. The scars still exist, though the pain must have ceased to exist, particularly owing to the recent events.
Beating Die Mannschaft to bag the gold in the 2016 Olympics has restored the lost pride and the signs that an invaluable asset has been appreciating in value with every stroke of the clock are making the countrymen dream, once again. Has the next hot-shot of the Seleção taken off his flight in search of stardom?
10,000 feet above the sea level in the football pitch of Quito, the very prospect of the five-time World Champions locking horns with Ecuador in the qualifying round of World Cup 2018 must have sent shivers down the spine of millions across the planet. Under the tutelage of Tite, Brazil was entering a new era, kicking off against Ecuador.
Apart from the fact that the Seleção hadn’t won in Ecuador for over three decades, a blunt start by them in the qualifiers meant that only a win would suffice their needs. The scenario wasn’t unheard of by a certain 19-year-old who was making his debut in the national colours. The overwhelming pressure to perform on his first appearance was also going to test the tenacity of a 19-year-old who is touted as the next big thing in Brazilian football. Gabriel Jesus, however, was unfazed by any of the hurdles.
In such a high-intensity game where one expects youngsters to stumble, Jesus took the centre of the stage after a scoreless first half, won a penalty and bagged two completely different yet severely brilliant goals to turn the tables. The Manchester City bound forward (who will join them in January 2017) put on a stellar display to embark his national career in the most intriguing manner to put Brazil’s qualifying campaign back on track. Have Brazil finally found someone’s who can carry on the hopes of the nation and share the responsibilities up front alongside Neymar?
Palmeira’s wonder kid has been the talk of the town as has even been dubbed as the ‘Next Neymar’. 15 goals in 34 appearances for the Brazilian outfit, the gifted poacher is quintessential of a perfect attacker who can ply his trade as a lone forward in a 4-2-3-1 formation as well as on the wings in the 4-3-3 formation. Pace, dribbling and trickery being his prime attributes, he reflects a typical young Brazilian footballer who runs down with the ball in the streets of the amazing country.
His appearance has left a reminiscence of an accomplished attacker who is venomous in the counters, can make the defenders go haywire near the edge of the box with his movements, and is a very clinical finisher. What puts a cherry on the top of the cake is his ability to hold up the play and wait for the best chance to try to ensure maximum damage to the opponents and thus also reflecting on the perception that he is more than a one-dimensional footballer.
£27 million which the blue half of Manchester forked out for Jesus seem to be a steal owing to the commitment he shows while catering to the defensive needs of his side by tracking back and helping his side to defend. His tremendous work ethic makes him much more than any other random South American footballer who vanish with the tides of time. Branding him as the heir to Neymar would imply imposing undue pressure on the youngster, but Jesus is seemingly here to stay for a foreseeable future.