GC Daily: Did Brazil just make themselves front runners?

Your Sunday morning look at the Gold Cup Quarterfinals. Latest news, thoughts, poems, analysis, quotes & more.

GC Daily: Did Brazil just make themselves front runners?
Vitória Yaya celebrating her goal for Brazil against Argentina | CBS broadcast

Note: Welcome back to Gold Cup Daily! A quick snapshot of the tournament's action from the previous day, some elongated thoughts, and the key details of group tables and next matches.

Saturday's Quarterfinal results:
Canada 1-0 Costa Rica AET
Brazil 5-1 Argentina

The Snapshot

The first day of final eight play, at the 2024 W Gold Cup, served up one all-Concacaf and one all-Conmebol affair.

The opening match did drag. Sluggish Canada needed extra time to sneak past stubborn Costa Rica, a team they had beaten 3-0 in Houston, Texas, just a few days before. The breakthrough came via an Evelyne Viens' glancing header from a Jess Fleming dinked free kick in the 105th minute of action.

In the final match of the night, Brazil scooped up South American bragging rights by thumping continental rivals Argentina by a four-goal margin. Victoria Yaya and Yasmin netted in the first half, while Gabi Nunes and Bia Zaneratto, with a brace, killed the game after the interval.

20-year-old Celeste Dos Santos chipped home a consolation for Argentina in the dying moments. Not a bad way to become the only team, and player, to score against Brazil at this tournament so far.

Evelyne Viens (11) celebrates scoring the winning goal for Canada | Courtesy of Concacaf

"Big players come up big, in big moments"

Despite Viens' classy extra-time winner from a set-piece, the real moment of the match occurred right before the end of normal time.

It all could have been so different if Canada goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan hadn't made one of the saves of her life by stopping an unmarked Alexa Herrera in the 94th minute. From point-blank range, the shot looked destined for goal before the outstretched leg met the ball with emphatic denial.

"An unbelievable job of keeping that ball out of the back of the net. I think overall, Kailen's save: Big players come up big, in big moments," Canada head coach Bev Priestman said.

Canada is yet to concede a goal at the 2024 W Gold Cup, a stretch of 360 tournament minutes.

That big chance was Las Ticas' lone shot on goal of the match. Over the 120 minutes of play, they mustered just five attempts. Coach Beni Rudido's team went about a very defensive task. Sitting back and soaking as much pressure as they could.

"We defended the interior spaces better because we were already switching to help the defense on the outside," Rudido said after the match. "Priscila [Chinchilla] allowed us to sometimes jump with a central winger. We have to keep working because we have already seen that it is not enough."

As much as it is important to credit Costa Rica's resolve, and how it put them in a position to get something out of the game, honestly, the scoreline was more of a product of Canada lacking a clinical edge. A whopping 39 shots (with 10 on target) were taken by the team in red on Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Cloe Lacasse and Jordyn Huitema will both be kicking themselves they didn't manage to get on the scoresheet and put this game to bed much earlier. An injury to Livy Smith kept one of Canada's brightest young attacking talents out of the game.

Beyond the result, this was a performance to forget for Canada. Of course, there's also a badge of honour that comes when you survive a sticky display.

"It was tough. I'm exhausted. If I'm honest, I think you always get this. And we've had a bit of a great run. In many ways, maybe we needed this game a little bit to set us up for the next game. But yeah, it was frustrating. A lot of stoppages, a lot of fouls," stated Priestman.

Me too Bev, me too.

So, who can stop Brazil?

In isolation, beating Argentina by a four-goal margin isn't necessarily a major feather in one's cap. Just last week the United States managed the same feat before quickly being humbled by Mexico a few days later.

With a canny combination of style and substance, there is something special about this Brazil side though. And, a few things stand out about their playful jaunt past their South American rivals.

Firstly, there is head coach Arthur Elias' ability to rotate. So far, we have seen 22 of the 23 players in Brazil's squad get decent minutes. 20-year-old third-choice goalkeeper Amanda Coimbra is the lone unused sub.

Tonight – even in a knockout match – he was able to begin the match with heavy hitters Ary Borges, Geyse, Debinha, and Adriana all resting on the bench, and still created 25 shots (12 on target) while dominating 65% possession.

We've also seen him turn to Thaís in the backline, who was given a second consecutive start having been left out of the team for the opening two matches. Victoria Yaya got her first start tonight in midfield and slammed home the first goal with an expert near-post header.

Elias spoke after the match about his reasoning. He emphasized not wanting to place too much physical burden on any of his players who are currently in pre-season, while also wanting to give significant tournament experience to as many players as possible ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics.

These decisions will also make Brazil difficult for other teams to scout down the stretch and perhaps more importantly have boosted the confidence of the squad. Every player looks hungry to come in and make an impact. This felt evident in their bravery on the ball as well as their outpouring of joy in their celebrations.

Brazil was not messing around. Even with the game done, at 4-1 in second-half stoppage time, all the players took the time to let out every last ounce of energy to celebrate Bia Zaneratto's worldie hit from the edge of the box. Enjoy it.

But more than just getting players on the pitch, Elias has created different relationships and shapes within his squad. Direct and indirect approach play. We've seen 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2, 3-5-2, and 3-4-3 formations so far. Each one offers slight tactical shifts and personnel tweaks.

Against Colombia, we saw a team that was happy to battle, scrap, shithouse, and neutralize what the opposition through at them. While, at the same time, having great ball carriers in defence (Rafelle Souza), insightful vision, and players who are always looking to play quick one-twos and short passes.

At the moment, the Selecao have no fear, tactical flexibility, a rested squad, and hunger across the board to make noise at the newly-reformed Gold Cup. Will anyone stop them?

NEXT: Sun. 3 Mar. Quarterfinals:
Mexico v Paraguay | 5:00 p.m. ET
USA v Colombia | 8:00 p.m. ET