Tuesday 09 June 2020, 05:00

Cristiane: I'm going to be smiling for a while

  • Cristiane and Andressa Alves chat to FIFA about the win over Jamaica

  • Cristiane expresses her joy and praises her supply line

  • Andressa discusses the front four being on the same wavelength

By Giancarlo Giampietro with Brazil

When a player scores a hat-trick, and it also happens to be the first by a Brazilian at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ since 1999, it’s hard to talk about anything else. Forwards can only shine, however, if they get the right kind of service, which is exactly what Andressa Alves, Debinha and Bia Zaneratto did in supplying the bullets for Cristiane to fire A Seleção to a 3-0 win over Jamaica in their opening Group C match at France 2019.

“I always ask the girls to get the ball in the box, because I’ll be able to do something with it,” Cristiane told FIFA.

On a run of nine consecutive losses, and without The Best FIFA Women’s Player holder Marta, Brazil showed just how much talent they have up front. And they could not have chosen a better time to regain their form, at a high-profile tournament and with large numbers of people tuning in on TV back home. Having previously admitted to the media that the team was failing to inspire confidence in the fans, the players are now hopeful that they have turned the corner. The performance of the Brazil attack gave every indication that they have.

Cristiane and Beatriz worked hard down the centre, while Andressa and Debinha continually swapped positions down the flanks. The quartet combined to excellent effect, not least in conjuring up their side’s second goal, with Debinha finding Andressa, who in turn set up Cristiane.

“It was a fine move,” said Andressa, who also provided another assist for the hero of the hour. “It wasn’t just Cris and I who were on the same wavelength. All four of us had a good game. We’re all delighted, regardless of who got all the goals.”

The willingness of the wingers to switch flanks paid dividends, as did their efforts not just to reach the byline, but also to cut inside and link up with their team-mates.

“Debinha and I are used to playing on either flank,” said Barcelona’s Andressa. “It’s a good way of confusing your markers."

“Defenders get used to a left-footed player dropping on to that side of the pitch for most of the game, but when a right-sided player pops up there, they don’t know whether she’s going to cut in or go wide.”

Debinha is the right-footed player in question and Andressa the left-footer. The latter missed a first-half penalty, a setback for which she soon atoned.

The quartet’s link-up play also yielded benefits in defence, with Brazil enjoying 57 per cent of possession and completing virtually twice as many passes as the Jamaicans: 343 to 172. Their interplay also allowed the midfield to do its job and neutralise the counter-attacks of a pacy Jamaica side, a cause for Brazilian concern before the game.

Marta watched it all from the bench, unable to join the fray because of injury. Understandably, A Seleção are eagerly awaiting her return. “Together with Cris and Formiga, she forms the backbone of the team,” said Andressa.

Cristiane proved how important she is on a day she will find hard to forget: “I’m going to have this smile on my face for a while, I think. It was a good way to bounce back.”

It was perhaps an even more satisfying day for the team, as she acknowledged: “It was a fresh start for the whole side.”