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Not long after Richarlison scored one of the best goals of the 2022 World Cup so far, footage started to circulate of the Brazilian forward practicing the same finish in training before Thursday’s match against Serbia. “It’s the result of his training,” explained teammate Fred, underlining that Richarlison’s stunning scissor kick was no fluke.
“I think it was a beautiful goal,” Richarlison admitted afterwards. “I’ve already scored a goal like that for Fluminense and Everton. Today I had the opportunity to score an acrobatic goal, possibly one of the nicest goals of my career. It was a tough match so I think it was one of the nicest of my career.”
It was a moment reflective of a player who has grown into one of Brazil’s most important players in recent times. Richarlison has been one of the Selecao’s most consistent performances over the last two years with Tite entrusting the 25-year-old to lead the line for his side at the 2022 World Cup.
Others might have opted for Gabriel Jesus or even Neymar, who plays in a deeper role, to lead the line for Brazil at the tournament, but Tite recognises what Richarlison offers his team. The 25-year-old gives Brazil a physicality in the final third that they otherwise wouldn’t have. Richarlison also knows how to finish from inside the penalty box.
At 25, Richarlison is ready to take the next step in his career and a successful 2022 World Cup would underline this. The forward made the switch to Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, but finds himself behind Harry Kane in the pecking order. It might not be long until Conte is partnering Kane and Richarlison up front for Spurs.
Richarlison’s versatility means he can play in a number of different positions across the frontline, but he is most effective when he has an attack built around him, like he does for Brazil. Neymar might be the Selecao’s headline act, but the Paris Saint-Germain is the supply line into Richarlison even if he carries a goal threat of his own.
Tite has handed Richarlison the number nine shirt for the 2022 World Cup and that in itself says something about his role in the Brazil squad right now. Tite is spoiled for choice when it comes to fluid, technically excellent space fillers who can attack opponents with the ball at their feet, but Richarlison is a true focal point.
Brazil are widely expected to be among the frontrunners to win the 2022 World Cup. They certainly boast one of the deepest squads at the tournament, but Richarlison is something different. Not all his goals are as spectacular as the one he scored against Serbian, but he will get more chances to find the back of the net in Qatar.