Brazil is known for producing the best forwards in the world over the years. The Selecao’s forwards are blessed with pace, skill and devastating finishes. Matheus Cunha is another forward from Brazil who has inherited all those traits. Cunha is looking to make his mark at the Copa America 2021.
Cunha, 21-years old who turns 22 before the Copa 2021 is having an impressive campaign for Hertha BSC in the Bundesliga. He has enjoyed success in Germany at the club level and is looking for a chance to impress with Brazil.
Sempre a aprender e aperfeiçoar. 💙🔟 pic.twitter.com/F4uieBkRvq
— Matheus Cunha (@mathcunha20) April 13, 2021
The striker role is up for the taking in the Brazilian national team. As we approach the Copa 2021, let us take a closer look at Cunha and his claim for leading the line for the Selecao at the Copa America.
FUTSAL TO FOOTBALL
The Samba king loves Futsal and it’s the sport that drove him towards Football. Naturally, the traits that help in Futsal helped him in football. Futsal is a rip-off of football, that takes place on a smaller pitch with a lesser number of players. Since the area of play is small, one must be extremely intelligent and skillful on the ball to beat defenders and score. Cunha honed his skills on the streets with Futsal and translated them onto the football pitch.
Matheus Cunha 🐻🇧🇷
Cunha's love for Futsal is evident in his skills on the pitch 🧙♀️✨
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) April 8, 2020
A move to Europe arrived at a very tender age for Cunha. FC Sion from Switzerland came calling for his services in 2017 when he was only 18 years old. He caught the eye in Switzerland as a productive debut season saw him hit 10 goals and assist 8 times. Cunha was used as a left-winger in his early days due to his incredible pace. However, he could also move central and play as a striker.
After just a year in Switzerland, a move to the Bundesliga materialized as RB Leipzig queued for his signature.
The famed Red-Bull academy which is known for snapping young talents across Europe got their hands on another hot talent. They shelled out £20 million for a highly rated Brazilian. Cunha was being transformed into a versatile winger who could make the most of his natural talents.
Cunha’s intelligence and work rate both on and off the ball allowed him to be the perfect second striker or a dream false 9. He was coached by Julian Naglesmann in that regard by Leipzig. He was deployed at a variety of positions including left-wing, centre-forward, second-striker, attacking midfielder. Naglesmann instantly knew Cunha was special and said “ Cunha is really playing well at the moment and possesses so much skill”.
— Matheus Cunha (@mathcunha20) April 1, 2021
Cunha scored 2 goals and laid on one assist for the Bulls during his one and half year stay. It is worth mentioning that he scored the goal of the season in 2019 as he displayed delicious skill on the ball by turning two defenders and lobbed the ball into the net in a league match.
In order to find regular game time, he left for Hertha BSC in the winter transfer window in 2020.
Cunha signed a 4 and half year deal in Berlin as he looked to establish himself as a starter in club football. His versatility was something that was appreciated the most in Berlin. Jurgen Klinsmann signed the Brazilian and gave him some much-needed minutes to prove himself on the pitch.
The Brazilian enjoyed his most successful spell under manager Bruno Labbadia as he fit the manager’s plans successfully. Cunha’s versatility allowed him to play on the left side of a 3 men attacking midfield in a 4-2-3-1 and also as a no 10 in the 3-5-2 formation. Labbadia said, “ Matheus has something special. He can produce something with a moment of individual brilliance”.
Matheus Cunha, all comps 20/21
Per 90 stats
Key passes: 2.0
Passes into final 3rd: 2.9
Progressive passes: 3.4
Shot creating actions: 4.2
Players dribbled past: 3.6
Progressive carries: 7.2
Carries into final 3rd: 2.6
Age: 21 yo
— The Devil's DNA (@TheDevilsDNA) February 25, 2021
The 2020/21 season finally saw Cunha break out after the development stages. He played as a second striker, or as a 10 and started picking Bundesliga’s defences apart. His movement, passing, and pressing made him very hard to defend. Cunha has an impressive return of 7 goals and 6 assists to his name as he helped Hertha avoid the drop.
Cunha will be determined to earn himself a callup for the Copa America 2021 and prove his worth.
The striker position for Brazil isn’t nailed by anyone at the Copa which kicks off in a month. Regular strikers like Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus are not enjoying their finest of their seasons. Heading into a major tournament without an in-form striker is always a risk.
Cunha meanwhile has been sensational at the club level. Though he was called up for the Brazilian squad earlier, he didn’t make his debut. He was a regular suspect at the junior levels for the national teams though.
Matheus Cunha for Brazil U23:
Excited to see how he does with Hertha Berlin. pic.twitter.com/Bb7DhM7m8r
— Brasil Football 🇧🇷 (@BrasilEdition) February 10, 2020
Cunha can be compared to Roberto Firmino due to the similarities they share in their game. Cunha loves to drop deep into the midfield and break defences with those runs. He possesses lovely first-time passes and flick and tricks very much like Bobby. Considering the form he’s in, Cunha can certainly be given the nod for Brazil at the Copa America 2021.
A start straight away would be difficult to expect, but we can definitely hope to see Cunha come off the bench initially. If he performs well, Cunha can pretty much earn the spot and lead the line. A sensational season can only go to greater heights if Cunha can take his Brazil side to another trophy at the Copa America 2021.