Robinho Turns Back the Clock in Magical Copa America Showing

Robinho Brazil Copa America

It’s been quite a while since Robinho’s looked this good in a Copa America. In fact, you’d have to go back to 2007, when Brazil won the tournament, to find Robinho playing as well as he did on Sunday vs Venezuela in a Copa.

That’s a staggering eight years.

Robinho was absolutely brilliant in the 2007 edition of South America’s showpiece, with his superb performances seeing him take home the player of the tournament and the golden boot awards.

The 2011 Copa could easily be described as forgettable for the enigma, where his sub-par showings led to him eventually being replaced by Jadson in the starting lineup.

The now 31-year-old, who Dunga picked in this squad due to his experience at the highest level and fine form with Santos, had a huge amount of faith placed in him, as he started started against La Vinotinto.

“He was called up because of his performances with Santos, but also because of the experience he can bring to the younger players. Back then (in 2007), he was the reference in the squad and had a brilliant tournament,” Dunga explained.

And Robinho repaid that faith fully, putting in a terrific shift that rewound the Copa clock back to 2007 for both the player and Dunga, who was Brazil’s triumphant coach in that victory.

Robinho Brazil 2007

Robinho at the 2007 Copa America.

As part of Brazil’s fluid front four that consisted of Roberto Firmino, Willian and Philippe Coutinho, Robinho played his role aptly, in a game where all four men interchanged positions cohesively.

The former Real Madrid man popped up all over the final third. He played as a number 10, on the left, on the right and even enjoyed some stints up front. He and his fellow attackers made life very difficult, courtesy of their constant switches, and never allowed the Venezuelan defenders to settle on a solitary marking assignment. Some of their one-touch passing combinations were incredible, which was something the side can tend to lack when Neymar plays, as so much of the attacking work is focused on his ability to make things happen individually.

Moreover, the man wearing the number 20 shirt showcased his space finding intelligence, as he spotted openings in between the lines and in the half-spaces expertly. From obtaining the ball in such areas, he linked play delightfully, as evidenced by his magnificent four key passes, and used that sublime dribbling ability of his to drive towards the opposition at pace.

A further variation he added was that he’d opt to drop deep to pick up the ball and act as a link between midfield and attack, with his back to goal hold-up work particularly impressive here.

All this cerebral movement and positioning served to not only benefit him, but also his teammates, for it created space all across the final third, with defenders persistently being dragged all over the shop.

At times when he and Firmino were playing together in central attacking areas, they would at times mirror each other’s movements and occupy similar zones, but as the game wore on they developed their relationship and communicated well to ensure this no longer happened. This was an excellent sign, and gave credence to the duo’s ability to manage the situation themselves, as opposed to having to wait for their manager to fix the issue.

The fast-footed, quick thinker’s ingenuity to get out of a tight situation and beat his marker by using his wonderful technical ability, combined with all of the aforementioned, meant he ensured Neymar wasn’t so sorely missed.

The former Manchester City forward also had a hand in both of the Selecao’s goals. Firstly, he supplied a brilliant delivery from the corner for Thiago Silva’s opener, and secondly, his wicked cross-field aerial pass to Filipe Luis kickstarted the move that culminated in Roberto Firmino scoring.

All things considered, Robinho’s efforts on the night were outstanding, in what was ostensibly an error free outing full of positives.

Brazil will be hoping the man who’s won 98 international caps for his country can continue to wind back the clock for Dunga’s men, for if he can keep up this level of performance, maybe, just maybe, Brazil might be able to replicate the triumph of 2007.

And wouldn’t that be something, especially considering the trials and tribulations the side has already had to endure throughout this tournament.