Richarlíson, Brazil and maybe the start of something special.

It is of course this charged arsenal that has made Brazil favorites for this tournament, notwithstanding the impressive impressions France, Spain and England made in Qatar in the first round. However, his fundamentals are no less significant: Casemiro’s demeanor and command in midfield; the experience and authority of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos in defence; the presence of the best goalkeeper in the world as a last option.

In those final 20 minutes, as the stadium recovered from its swoon, all of that fell into the utmost relief. Richarlíson’s athleticism, his invention, seemed to have sparked something in his teammates, reminded Brazil that it’s the biggest and brightest show in town, that it was time to dust this tournament with its unique, compelling glamour.

And so the game suddenly reached the stage where Casemiro, the only defensive midfielder, the only adult in the room, casually circled shots over the bar from 30 yards. As if to remind everyone else what exactly they were up against, Tite spent the final stages mustering as many absurdly gifted attackers as the rules allowed him to. Here were Rodrygo and Antony and Gabriel Jésus; and if you liked her, wait till you see Gabriel Martinelli.

Of course, that level of resources should offer some consolation for the evening’s only sour note: the sight of Neymar limping off the field, his right ankle visibly swollen after suffering a difficult tackle. Although left-back Alex Sandro assured news media after the game that Neymar was “okay” and Tite said he was confident the team would have him available, it did little to ease Brazil’s collective fever calm. Richarlíson, Brazil and maybe the start of something special.

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