When Brazil face Colombia in the World Cup quarterfinal on Friday, there are a number of things they must improve on after an underwhelming tournament so far. The most important of all for this game in particular, however, is possession.
Brazil have done a number of things wrong in this tournament when it comes to possession: giving the ball away too easily, passing the ball without tempo, making poor decisions, lacking creativity for long periods. The list goes on and on. Against Colombia though, the Selecao must be more careful with possession, especially in areas where they lose the ball.
Colombia have weapons that can hurt Brazil, as do a lot of other teams; specifically though, the Colombians have quick wingers who can exploit the space left by the adventurous Brazilian full backs, and they have a maestro in James Rodriguez who, if given the time and space, could end the Brazil World Cup dream at any point in the game.
The Brazilians need possession in this game as much as possible, first and foremost. They cannot allow Colombia to dictate the game and put Rodriguez in dangerous positions to inflict damage, or feed the wingers and dangerous strikers that Los Cafeteros have. By Brazil controlling possession, they nullify that for periods of the game.
Secondly, they cannot give the ball up in areas of the pitch where they can be counterattacked. Colombia will be a big threat on the break, and if given opportunities to attack in transition, they will do so and it could be catastrophic for Brazil. With that said, Brazil do need to maintain a threat when they do have possession. They cannot simply hold the ball for defensive purposes, but they must be careful with it when they are on the attack.
Brazil can do more than enough damage to Colombia, but they cannot be too adventurous in their play. In a game where the opposition are a real threat, especially on the counterattack, they must be smart enough to limit those opportunities. If they do that, then it will drastically increase their chances of advancing to the semifinals; but if they don’t, then elimination earlier than anticipated is a strong possibility.