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It has now been a year since Brazil won the gold medal in men’s football at the Olympic Games. It was one of Brazil’s most significant footballing accomplishments in years, particularly since Olympic gold was the last mountain the Seleção had yet to scale.

And yet, a year down the line, you can argue that it didn’t change a whole lot—at least, not for the better. Coach Rogério Micale showed that long-term preparation, with regular U-23 friendlies to build a cohesive team, could create a winning team capable of playing stylish football; he was fired six months later. Of the breakout stars from that tournament, only Gabriel Jesus really used it as a springboard to Seleção success; players like Luan, Felipe Anderson, Rodrigo Caio and Gabigol spent the ensuing year either underappreciated at the national team level, stagnating at a club that doesn’t appreciate their potential, or both. Weverton is still a regular selection in senior team squads, for some ungodly reason.

That’s not what I plan to argue here, though. Perhaps the Olympic campaign has yet to serve as the referendum on Brazilian football or the springboard for players’ careers that we hoped it might. Even so, it did a world of good for several of Brazil’s key players, gave fans and players some much-needed confidence about the Seleção’s abilities going forward, and taught some important (and occasionally sobering) lessons about tactics and team setup.

Originally, this was meant to be part two of a large-scale look at the work and legacy of Brazil’s recent coaches. It’s been long enough that that feels kind of quaint now, especially since Rogério Micale, naturally the focus of this second part has been fired. Still, I’m going to keep a similar format to part one—which you can find here—and explore the main things we learned or benefited from thanks to the Olympic campaign. Rather than group the lessons by positives or negatives this time, I’m going to start with what we gained from individual players and widen out into the collective and tactical aspects of the team.

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