Brazilian Public Want Tite To Start Gabriel Jesus Over Roberto Firmino At World Cup
Jesus or Firmino? The debate raged, and with good reason. Though the latter had led Liverpool to the Champions League final and was among Europe’s top scorers while boasting the superior season of the pair, the former, once having returned from a lengthy lay-off due to injury, won the Premier League with Manchester City and had always been Tite’s first choice as Brazil’s lone striker in displaying top form during the CONMEBOL qualifying group.
In a recent friendly at Anfield against Croatia as part of the Seleção’s final preparations for the World Cup, the coach again gave Jesus the nod despite the fixture being played at Firmino’s home ground. As a reward for his continued progress, the former Palmeiras striker was even handed the captain’s armband. Late in the second half, however, Firmino came off the bench and scored a cool half-volley of a chip in stoppage time to make it 2-0 and left Tite with a continued headache.
Make no mistakes that this is anything even remotely resembling the rivalry between Romario and Edmundo, who despite both playing for Vasco da Gama at one point couldn’t stand to be in the same room as each other in the late 90’s as they vied to partner Ronaldo up front and battled for World Cup and Copa America squad spots. A testament to the sense of unity that Tite has fostered, as well as the humility of these soft-spoken young men, there is untold respect between Jesus and Firmino and full recognition of each party’s qualities.
Yet after Jesus’ showing yesterday against Austria yesterday afternoon, which brought him a goal and made him the top scorer under Tite thus far, there can be no further doubts as to who will lead Brazil’s front line against Switzerland on June 17th in their Russia 2018 opener. Put simply, the prodigy who honed his craft in São Paulo’s tough varzéa leagues cannot be dropped, especially when considering the cohesion he shares with Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, and, more recently, Willian.
The Brazilian public seems to think so too. As noted by Huffington Post Brasil, Jesus ‘exploded’ on social media on Sunday with a poll by Alexandria Big Data via globoesporte mentioned elsewhere on this site today, which took in the opinions of over a thousand Brazilians, also appearing to have put competition between he and Firmino to bed.
“If you had to choose between Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino, who would be your first-team striker at the World Cup?’ the survey begged. Resoundingly, Jesus trumped his positional competitor by a landslide 83% to 17%.