So now it's up to Gabriel Jesus to fix it: In the classic against world champions Argentina, of all places, the Arsenal striker returns to the pitch after almost a month's break. Coach Fernando Diniz had Gabriel Jesus tested on Saturday at the Granja Comary training centre to see if Gabriel Jesus is ready again.
Finally, a remarkable gap is opening up in the Brazilian striker. In addition to Neymar, who is likely to be out until the end of the season due to his knee injury, Vinicius Junior will now also have to pass. The striker, who was substituted in the 1-2 defeat at Barranquilla, is already recovering from a muscle injury at his club Real Madrid.
For the record world champion, the injury misery could not come at a worse time. If Brazil lose to their arch-rivals at the legendary Maracana on Tuesday (21:30 local time/Wednesday 01:30 CET), then if things go badly, there is even a risk of falling out of the World Cup qualifying ranks on matchday six of the "Eliminatorias".
The shine of the offense has faded
And this despite the fact that, for the first time, the first six of the ten nations of the South American confederation Conmebol will qualify directly for the 2026 World Cup in Mexico, USA and Canada. The current crisis is mainly due to a negative streak that began with a surprising 1-1 draw against former football dwarf Venezuela and then continued with two defeats in Uruguay (0-2) and Colombia (1-2).
For the first time in the history of South American World Cup qualifying, Brazil have lost two games in a row. It is only thanks to the two opening victories over bottom-of-the-table Bolivia (5-1) and Peru (1-0) that Brazil currently remain in the qualifying places.
Despite the current results crisis, the Selecao should not really be in danger of missing out on World Cup qualification. But it is striking that the team has lost the shine in the offense. Neymar may be controversial, but he's also a football entertainer.
Vinicius Junior is actually one of them due to his speed and determination. In Uruguay (0-2) in mid-October, the two were still on the pitch with Gabriel Jesus, but not much was to come. After Viniciu's early substitution on Thursday in Colombia, none of this trio was left on the pitch.
Is the young star ready yet?
For the newly crowned Copa Libertadores winner Fernando Diniz, a tricky question now arises. In view of the striker shortage, should he now send the only 17-year-old Endrick into the emotional and media steel bath against Messi & Co or would such a responsibility be too great for the young star of Palmeiras, who has already signed for Real Madrid?
Because if the young man from Sao Paulo actually plays against Argentina and then also scores, a media comparison with Pelé would probably be unavoidable. And thus also a huge backpack for the further course of your career. Super-talented Endrick is only the first time in the Selecao squad and thus the youngest international since Ronaldo in 1994.
In Barranquilla, Colombia, Endrick made his debut in the closing stages, partly because Diniz lacked alternatives in the face of the injured Neymar, Jesus and Vinicius. "Endrick has huge potential. He can become a legend in Brazilian football," Diniz was quoted as saying in the local media, so it should be clear what the coach will do.
In general, the current slump in strikers doesn't even seem to be the Selecao's biggest problem. Recently, Brazil allowed themselves too many defensive mistakes. Diniz, enormously successful as a club coach, is now under pressure as interim coach of the Selecao: "I think the team is gradually developing and the results will come," he says, whose contract runs until mid-2024.
In the background, Carlos Ancelotti, who is considered the dream coach of CBF president Ednaldo Rodrigues, is still waiting. However, a third defeat in a row against Argentina at the Maracana would put Diniz in serious trouble.
Meanwhile, rival Argentina has lost a football match for the first time in a long time. In Boca Juniors' legendary "La Bombonera", of all places, the world champions around Lionel Messi lost 0-2 to Uruguay. And after months of collective football frenzy, there were also some ugly background noises.
A completely overcrowded stadium, many counterfeit tickets and an end to the winning streak caused long faces in Buenos Aires for the first time since the World Cup victory almost a year ago. Argentina also have a lot to lose in Tuesday's game. Even if it's just the lightness of a world champion.