Gabriel Jesus and the end of Neymardependencia

Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus during Carabao Cup Final match between Arsenal against Manchester City at Wembley stadium, London England on 25 Feb 2018 (Photo by Kieran Galvin/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The reports on Neymar’s injury recovery ranged from a couple weeks to a couple months. The questions were answered yesterday morning when Brazil’s team doctor revealed that the star forward will undergo surgery and be sidelined for up to three months.

Gabriel Jesus and the end of Neymardependencia

Rise of Gabriel Jesus

The World Cup begins in just over three months, cutting it close for the Brazilian. Luckily enough for the Seleção, they have another forward who can carry the load and end Neymardependencia. Gabriel Jesus started the season guns blazing, but was also hampered by injury early on. He is back on the pitch, however, and will be fully fit for the World Cup.

Jesus has ten goals in 26 appearances for Manchester City as of right now. He was also tied for second with Lionel Messi in goals in CONMEBOL qualifying. The football world knows Jesus is the real deal, and he will now be Brazil’s target man.

The young starlet isn’t your traditional striker. He only stands at 1.75 m and is not an aerial threat. What he is, however, is extremely skillful with the touch and finishing of a seasoned veteran. He looks up to Ronaldo, O Fenômeno, and has modeled his game to fit that style.

“Ronaldo was a childhood idol of mine. Now, having met him and having seen how he treats everyone, he’s even more of a hero. He will always be an idol and a role model. That’s what I’m working towards,” Jesus said.

His teammates have even seen this.

“I wasn’t joking when I called him the new Ronaldo. They have a similar drive,” Dani Alves said of Jesus.

Jesus will also likely be the only true striker on Brazil’s squad. Other star names like Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino will be on the team sheet alongside Neymar, but they too are not mainly strikers.

Formation Benefits

Brazil manager Tite uses a 4-3-3 formation, where wingers feed the lone striker. This has seen Jesus flourish. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola typically uses the same formation, which has also translated well for Jesus. Both teams’ high-quality wingers take over the attention of midfielders and fullbacks and leave Jesus to only face opposing centre-backs.

Although Jesus’s individual quality is a reason for his success, one cannot overlook the importance of formations creating success for strikers. Although Brazil greatly impressed during Tite’s run in qualifying, they struggled at first with only two wins in six matches under former manager, Dunga.

Dunga preferred a 4-2-3-1 formation which typically transformed into a 4-1-4-1 during games. This was a recipe for disaster as it called on Brazil solely relying on individual flair and talent. Those tactics often led to Brazil’s striker becoming isolated, making it difficult to score. As seen in Germany’s 7-1 thumping of Brazil in 2014, this wasn’t effective against quality sides.

The Last Word

Neymar is still undoubtedly Brazil’s star. Jesus, however, has broken out and ended Brazil’s long search for an effective striker. An in-form Jesus, knowledgeable on the 4-3-3 formation, can carry Neymar’s load should he continue to be affected by injury.

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