Liverpool duo Fabinho and Roberto Firmino were both directly involved as Brazil eased to a 2-0 victory over the United States in their friendly on Saturday.
Tite’s side were in action in the early hours for UK viewers, as they kicked off a two-game spell across the Atlantic.
Both he and his US counterpart, Dave Sarachan, named experimental lineups at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, with Brazil including a host of players not involved at the World Cup.
With Gabriel Jesus omitted, it was an opportunity for Firmino to stake his claim in the No. 9 role, after having watched on from the sidelines at the World Cup.
The Liverpool striker played just 82 minutes in Russia, despite Jesus failing to find the back of the net in five starts, with it widely perceived that Firmino isn’t appreciated in Brazil.
But handed a place in the starting lineup against the US, Firmino proved a point as he netted the opener in a 2-0 win.
Another bemusing fringe figure, Douglas Costa, was provider, with his blistering pace down the right opening space for a brilliant cross, and Firmino’s great movement allowed him to tap home.
The goalscorer was heavily praised on social media after his telling contribution:
Firmino so intelligent at dropping in to get on ball. Not just a 9
— keith costigan (@KeithCostigan) September 8, 2018
Firmino & Douglas Costa really should have been starting for Brazil in the World Cup, huh?
— Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) September 8, 2018
Douglas Costa is so so good. Lethal with his speed, touch and excel qualities 1v1. Gets past his defender as it’s a cone in training and makes a beautiful assist to Firmino. How these two didn’t start for Brazil in the World Cup will forever be a mystery. Might’ve beaten Belgium
— Maxi (@MaaxiAngelo) September 8, 2018
FIRMINO IS ALWAYS THE ANSWER
— Shi Qingxuan's wife? (@blackswanwwx) September 8, 2018
Meanwhile, Fabinho made his fifth appearance for the Selecao in a different role to that he is expected to take up at Liverpool, starting at right-back.
Speaking ahead of the game, the 24-year-old insisted “the coach knew he could count on me there in any situation,” and he certainly impressed in East Rutherford.
High-profile Brazilian football account @BrazilStat described Fabinho as “monstrous defensively,” explaining that he was “dominant in one-on-one situations.”
He was accused of diving to earn the penalty for Neymar’s strike, but replays suggested he was tripped by US midfielder Wil Trapp during his surging run:
. @AlexiLalas in the age of VAR that would be a penalty because there would have been more cameras that would show Trapp’s right leg dislodging Fabinho when he passes by him. In fact you can see from the original angle, tough a camera from the far side would show better. #USAvBRA pic.twitter.com/QSZahIy3fv
— Mondrianion (@healthymd) September 8, 2018
This was Fabinho‘s first outing of the season, having yet to make his debut following his £39 million move to Liverpool this summer, but he showed little sign of rust.
He is likely to be brought into the side after the international break, though he is predominantly considered a No. 6 by Jurgen Klopp.
Speaking after the game, Tite enthused that the performances of those players coming into the side were “beyond my expectation.”
“We have to give Firmino, Douglas Costa, Fred more chances. And then the newbies,” he explained.
“But having these players on the pitch so they have the opportunity and time [is important] for a better analysis. And this was beyond my expectation.”
Alisson also started between the sticks for Brazil, resuming his first-choice role from the World Cup, but enjoyed a quiet night as the hosts fired just two shots on target.
Brazil are next in action on Wednesday morning (BST), when they take on El Salvador, ensuring a late return to training at Melwood ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Tottenham on Saturday.