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Fitness the key for Brazillian success

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Tim Vickery | 09:13 UK time, Monday, 15 March 2010

Following the international friendlies, I wrote last time that the week's big winner was Argentina coach Diego Maradona. Seven days later, perhaps his Brazilian counterpart can crack the biggest smile.

As Andre Kfouri wrote in the sports daily Lance!: "Dunga must have loved the elimination of Real Madrid and Milan from the Champions League. The Spanish giant, because Kaka will have a lighter fixture list in the build up to the World Cup. And the Italian giant because the pressure to recall Ronaldinho will diminish. And the national team coach will be cheering for Chelsea to knock out Internazionale - a rest for Julio Cesar, Lucio and Maicon, more work for Drogba."

It is an important consideration. Winning the World Cup means playing seven intense games inside a month - in a tournament tacked on to the end of the gruelling club season. It is not only a case of who possesses the highest level of skill and technique. It is also fundamental that the players have enough gas in the tank to be able to show their stuff.

It is here that Brazil like to think that they have an edge. For over 50 years they have been taking the scientific area of preparation very seriously.

The great Mario Zagallo nearly fell off his chair when I told him that England went to the 1962 World Cup in Chile without so much as a doctor. Four years earlier he had played in Sweden when Brazil pioneered their 'technical commission' - a group of specialists all working together. In addition to physical preparation staff, they had doctors, dentists and even - prematurely as it turned out - an experiment with sports psychology.

They have been progressing ever since. A few years ago I saw Dunga give a lecture where he claimed that Brazilian football has the world's best medical teams, physiologists and physical preparation specialists.

Brazil coach Dunga> Dunga was appointed as Brazil coach in the summer of 2006 - Pic: PA

The latter argue that their area really took off when the country's economy opened up in the early 90s. It meant they could import sophisticated machinery from the USA which gave them more data to work with from the tests they would put the players through - and what they could measure, they could manage.

If ever there was a World Cup where this was important it was 2002. The tournament was held early to avoid the rainy season in Japan and South Korea, leaving less time than usual to recover from the newly-expanded European club season. It helps explain why the competition threw up so many surprises - some of the favourites were not fit enough to play to potential.

Brazil, though, were full of running. Even - and perhaps especially Ronaldo, who Inter Milan had been unable to get fit; even Rivaldo, who Barcelona doubted could play the tournament; even Cafu and Roberto Carlos, who had spent the season charging up and down the touchline.

Shortly after the World Cup I interviewed Paulo Paixao, then as now in charge of Brazil's physical preparation. He was understandably proud of the contribution he had made to his country's victory. But with great nobility, he was desperate to stress that the merits were collective. "Brazil has a number of physical trainers who could have been in my place," he said. "Nowadays , in terms of methodology of work, Europe is way behind Brazil, but the culture of physical preparation we have developed doesn't get the credit it deserves. I don't know why. Maybe it's because we're judged in socio-economic terms, looked down upon because we're a South American country."

He had visited Juninho at Middlesbrough and couldn't believe the amount of players who were injured. "They don't seem to mind," he said. "If one player gets injured they go out and buy another.

"Without carrying out tests you can't draw up a work programme, and in Europe they hardly seem to do any. In Brazil all the big clubs have physiology labs. From the start players are dealt with in a laboratory situation. The young player goes through a battery of tests to find out what he needs to fulfil his athletic potential. What we do is focus on the specifics that a player requires, be it muscular re-enforcement, stamina or aerobic work, or addressing muscular imbalance. You don't see this kind of work carried out in Europe."

Brazil's Kaka Real Madrid's Kaka has won 75 caps for Brazil- Pic: AFP

Brazil could hardly believe it as they watched the team they most feared, France, self-destruct in a blaze of amateurism. A few days before the World Cup, the French risked their prestige as reigning champions in a high profile friendly against South Korea. Meanwhile, Brazil were easing off their work in preparation for the real thing. And Zinedine Zidane picked up an injury against the Koreans and when it mattered could only hobble his way around the field as France were eliminated without even scoring a goal.

That was eight years ago. I wonder if Europe has closed the gap - especially as Paulo Paixao and Moricy Sant'anna, another leading Brazilian specialist, have both worked in the continent in the last few years.

Even if Brazil still hold an advantage, Paixao and his team will have their work cut out this year.

In the last World Cup Brazil's big names seemed out of control, the reason behind Dunga's appointment on a team-over-stars ticket. There is little chance of complacency this time - but there is the danger of burn-out.

Taking a full-strength squad to last year's Confederations Cup was a risk. It was understandable - Emerson Leao was told the tournament was not serious and then lost his job after Brazil did badly in the 2001 version of the tournament. Brazil's coach must defend himself at all times. And Dunga would also see last year as the moment that his side clicked.

But it came at a time when some of the players might have been better served by a break, and could well have been a factor in the injuries suffered subsequently by Kaka, Robinho and Luis Fabiano.

Paulo Paixao, then, will need all his skill and experience in the next few months. And Chelsea could make his life easier by knocking out Inter Milan.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.
From last week's postbag;

Q) I was in Brazil a few years ago and spotted very few locals wearing the shirts of European club sides. With most of the best South Americans playing in Europe do fans back home take a keen interest in the game over here and can they easily watch the leagues, Champions League and European Championships on television?
Mike Hill, Liverpool

A) There is massive access to European football on TV here, mostly but not exclusively on cable. The relationship with European clubs has changed massively since I moved here in 94. Then people were wearing Barcelona shirts as a tribute to Romario, or La Coruna because of Bebeto. Now the contact is much deeper - more people have become followers of a European club, irrespective of whether or not a high-profile Brazilian plays there. And also more people wear European shirts for fashion reasons. So there are many, many more of them around than when you visited.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    How do you rate Rafael and Fabio at United now? Will they make the Brazilian squad this summer? Has their relative progress surprised you at all?

  • Comment number 2.

    Love the blog, it's a must read and I often listen to you on TalkSport.

    Any chance of changing your profile picture as the one that appears is a little odd! I assume that it is a screen shot?

    It makes you look like you are on TV in the 80's!

  • Comment number 3.

    Following on from comment number one, is it true that Fabiop was the higher rated player before coming to Manchester? Why do you think this seems to have changed?

  • Comment number 4.

    Goodday Tim
    An interesting analysis especially in terms of medical aspects of the Brazilian side. This now has brought a little light to what I've been wondering. South Africa, in their bid not to embarrass themselves during the world cup, have gone and pitched camp in Brazil for like 2 months. They have though taken only their locally based players there as Europe has not finished their seasons. Well, like I said, there's been some light into why they're doing it, to me that is. I'm in South Africa and a lot of people have also been skeptical of the move.
    Do you think that's maybe why they've gone to Brazil, for some re-conditioning?

  • Comment number 5.

    I think I've seen you mention it before, Tim - but, conversely to Brazil, Marcelo Bielsa's Argentina side in 2002, who played a very high-tempo style of football, looked very tired at the World Cup. They, like France, played a high-profile, v Germany, just before the tournament begun, and at the end of a long hard season for some of the players.

    Simeone and Veron clearly weren't fully-fit in the group game v England, and other players, especially the ageing Batistuta also looked jaded, and the World Cup ended in disaster for them, not getting past the group stage when they thought that were going to win the World Cup!

    Could they be making the same mistake again, by arranging a friendly against the hosts South Africa shortly before the tournament beginds this season.

    Speaking generally, I get the impression that Argentinian football is still quite a way behind Brazil, and Europe, in terms of sports science and physical fitness. I wonder if that's because the country is so entrenched in the idea of style and skill being so much more important than the physical sound - Diego Simeone, for example, who has tried to introduce the idea of eating fruit instead of 'media lunas' (croissants) and gym work at San Lorenzo is mocked for it by more old school coaches in TV debates.

  • Comment number 6.

    5 - agree with you all the way. I think Argentina lag behind, and 2002 is a good example - the players complained that they were being overworked in the run up - and they lost Ayala in the warm up before the first game.

  • Comment number 7.

    4 - I expect an imporovement in physical preparation to be the biggest single benefit of the Brazil experiment in South African football - and maybe at club level too. I understand that some South African clubs, who before did not even have specialists in this field, have been importing from Brazil.

  • Comment number 8.

    Bored (3)- Maybe Fabio is the better player. The problem is he has Evra in his position for competition while Rafael only has a clearly past it Neville to challenge him. Can't see either of them making it to this World cup. Evra is among the best in the world, so it is difficult to see Fabio getting a look in for some time yet.

  • Comment number 9.

    Thanks for a very interesting article.

    It never ceases to amaze me how easily many people, particularly in the European football community, buy into the myth of Brazilians as happy-go-lucky ball-jugglers who couldn't care less about tactical or physical preparation. I appreciate your efforts in correcting this imbalance.

    Brazil, alongside Spain, approach the World Cup as favourites, but in truth there are a number of unanswered questions regarding the team, some of which are rarely asked.

    Firstly, I'd like to venture that Kaka is likely to get much more rest than he'll appreciate over the next few months, for the very simple reason that he's presently not good enough to be first-choice at Real Madrid. Esteban Granero, Rafael Van Der Vaart and even the wildly inconsistent Guti have been giving more decisive performances in the central attacking midfield role than The Man Who Belongs To Jesus.

    I'm a big fan of his, but the sad fact is that he's not been anywhere near his imperious best, at club level at least, for nearly two seasons now. If he doesn't improve soon, I fear that what initially looked like a loss of form may prove to be terminal decline.

    Secondly, Adriano seems unable to win his personal battle with drink and depression, Ronaldo is ageing and overweight, Grafite and Nilmar have had seasons to forget at Wolfsburg and Villarreal respectively, Alex Pato, mysteriously, seems to have been permanently discarded by Dunga, Hulk and Julio Baptista are not skilful enough for the highest level and Robinho is, well, Robinho - so strange as it may seem, if anything should befall Luis Fabiano, Brazil may struggle for goals.

    (By contrast, two of Argentina's first-choice forwards, Leo Messi and Gonzalo Higuain, both scored hat-tricks for their respective club sides this weekend and have been in excellent form all season.)

    Thirdly, Felipe Melo has been suffering horribly at Juventus this season, while his central midfield partner Gilberto Silva is now quite simply unbelievably slow and not even sure any longer of his place in the Panathinaikos first team. Dunga does not seem to possess a convincing plan B if the fitness or form of either player should prove inadequate.

    Fourthly, who will fill the left-back berth? Felipe Luis of Deportivo la Coruna, arguably the finest left-sided defender in Spain, has been ruled out through a horrendous injury. Marcelo of Real Madrid is a hugely talented player, but essentially a left-winger who lacks the tackling ability and positional sense to perform to the required standard in defence - witness, for example, how Jesus Navas overran and humiliated him for Sevilla earlier this season. Michel Bastos is also a natural midfielder while Dani Alves looks uncomfortable on the left.

    So in truth, Brazil have an outstanding goalkeeper, a highly competent selection of centre-backs - Lucio, Juan, Thiago Silva, David Luiz - and arguably the two finest right-backs in the world. All other, positions, however, are surrounded by uncertainty and require Dunga's immediate attention.

    I'm intrigued to see how he and his players will answer these questions. Bring on the World Cup: I can't wait!

  • Comment number 10.

    3 - No doubt about it that Fabio was rated significantly higherthan his brother. he was the goalscoring captain of Brazil's U-17s at left back, Rafael was more of the steady eddie at right. In interviews rafael has said that he thinks fabio is the better of the two.

    Perhaps it's been easier for rafael to adapt his less flamboyant approach to full back play to the demands of the position in england. Also fabio's opportunities have been blocked by the form of evra.

  • Comment number 11.


    9 wrote;
    "It never ceases to amaze me how easily many people, particularly in the European football community, buy into the myth of Brazilians as happy-go-lucky ball-jugglers who couldn't care less about tactical or physical preparation. I appreciate your efforts in correcting this imbalance."

    Thanks for that- it's something of a personal quest. Incidentally, the same myth is peddled by a lot of Brazilian journalism also - who do all the 'happy go lucky' bit but are much less keen to talk about the lead Brazil has enjoyed in terms of physical preparation or tactics - such as inventing the back four.

    The reason? I think that any of the journos were in on the top down project (another myth), where from the 30s and 40s the mussolini-inspired government made great use of propaganda to disseminate the idea that Brazil's poor were happy, all singing, all dancing people. Over the years it's amazing how many people have fallen for this one.

  • Comment number 12.

    Its a strange one this Tim. Im still not sure where England would go with all the preperation stuff. I mean, we had Eileen Drury as a spiritual advisor to Glenn Hoddle. Keegan was not a Lycra totting Mr Motivator, Sven was just daft, and what is mr Capello doing. Does Yoga count as a way of addressing imbalances? Its certainly helped Ryan Giggs and hundreds of international cricketers over the years. Is this not what AC Milan have been doing for years wit hthe labs they have? More upsetting is this whole blood spinning technique my club Chelsea were using under Jose M. I dont want to fly in the face of nearly 50 odd years of science, but is the best form of recouperation rest. I have been fortunate to interview a number of Olympic medalists and footballers in my time, all of which have said the most important thing is rest. Its the same for armed forces and fitness nutters everywhere. Where would Brazil stand say on altitude training that Long distance runners go through which supposedly helps the blood carry more oxygen or do they train at hight in Brazil? I think what would be blinding is if someone can do a comparison say between Brazil, Germany, Italy etc to see how their preperations differ over the last 20 years. I think the one thing the feature didn't really touch upon is plane and simple hard work and determination. If you have a team with a high work ethic and sublime talent included, surely that is more helpful than having a team of super humans capable of running 20 miles a game? I guess i might just be starting to show my age but after the Balco scandle, im simply no fan of too much outside science in the game.

  • Comment number 13.

    "Following on from comment number one, is it true that Fabiop was the higher rated player before coming to Manchester? Why do you think this seems to have changed?"

    Manchester United have not had a real first choice right back for a few years now. With Neville being injured for such a long time and Brown being a conservative right back compared to Rafael's surging runs down the right, I think this has enabled Rafael to get into the team based on the different option he offers SAF. However, on the left, Fabio has been blocked by Evra who is one of the finest left backs in the world.

  • Comment number 14.

    Another interesting article, great insight - especially ahead of the WC.

  • Comment number 15.

    "He had visited Juninho at Middlesbrough and couldn't believe the amount of players who were injured."

    That's probably because they all fell over whilst on the lash with Robson, Viv Anderson and Gordon McQueen!

    Tim, what did the Brazilian media think about Juninho joining Boro? Bit like Robinho joining City barring Robinho's obvious motivation of 150k a week!

  • Comment number 16.

    Great blog Tim. Do you have a clone of yourself that follows premiership football. He can replace McNulty. Then we can appreciate true insight to premiership football ;).

    I think that the physical side of things are misinterpreted here in England. We seem to think that you have to run like a headless chicken for the duration of the match but it is equally, if not more, important to prepare yourself properly before a match. It is very difficult to perform to your abilities if you are physically and mentally unprepared. I wish we took a more intelligent approach to football than the 'get a foot in!' and 'get in there my son!' approach. Hopefully Capello will sort us out.

  • Comment number 17.

    9. - I would agree about Kaka. I don't know what has happened to him, perhaps he has been unable to make the transition from hero-worship to intense scrutiny at the behest of the Spanish press.

    Prior to the Lyon match, Kaka actually looked as though he was building an understanding with Ronaldo, particularly in the away win to Tenerife, but being substituted by Pellegrini in the defeat to the French may have set his confidence back once again.

    At times he has appeared frustrated and petulant - a million miles from the graceful Kaka who lit up the San Siro on numerous occasions.

  • Comment number 18.

    I wonder would beckham be injured if he had rested and had access to Brazilian Physios.

  • Comment number 19.

    Great blog as always Tim, just a quick question:

    How do you think some of the teams will fare at altitude in the world cup? I seem to remember Argentina lost 6-1 to Bolivia(can't quite remember who) at altitude, and so could this have a bearing on other teams as well?

  • Comment number 20.

    Tim I dont think the Ronaldinho topic will go away.. Dunga who is obviously not a favourite with a lot of fans will continue to get stick over Ronaldinho regardless of his Champions league involvement.. and his performances have been better in the league anyway..

    Its interesting to see how long ago Brazil were using these supposedly recent techniques in preparation.. and how they tailor training and development to an individual player at an early stage instead of generic training.

  • Comment number 21.

    Tim , I know this is off topic , but, after sitting through the Botafogo game yesterday ( I hesitate to call it a game ). What exactly must happen for a game to be abandoned in Brazil? The pitch was under so much water that the ball was actualy floating on the surface water during some periods and then the lights failed, but it still was played out to a finish which was terrible to watch and must have been impossible to play.

  • Comment number 22.

    Brazil will be fit, but they haven't got enough quality to win the World Cup.

    Dunga has created a dour, workmanlike team in his own image, but they actually lost the biggest game under him - the semi-final of the Olympic tournament which is so misunderstood in the UK.

    Everything hinges on the second match against the Ivory Coast. Brazil depend upon a counter-attacking game, and if Ivory Coast learns from Uruguay and Argentina's mistakes and therefore doesn't launch risky attacks they could easily hold Brazil. If that happens, Brazil go into the final game against Ronaldo's Portugal needing to win to avoid elimination or a nightmare Round of Sixteen match against Spain.

    In other words, it's the Group of Death in more ways than one, because if Dunga's Brazil doesn't finish top it is almost impossible to imagine them being able to live with Spain's quick passing game.

  • Comment number 23.

    What hasn't helped Fabio at United over the past couple of seasons is his injury record. He and Rafael have had an awful amount of injuries. Fabio has hardly had chance to put together a significant run of games together even at reserve level. I know a lot of United fans want to see him play, if only to give Evra a break.

    I think this World Cup is one to early, but if they can learn to defend a bit better than they do now (still a bit wet behind the ears as they say) then they could make it into the Brazil side for the 2014 WC in Brazil.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi Tim

    Great blog as always. I love South American football - Brazilian in particular - and am a regular reader of your blog. I have been on the lookout for a decent website about South American football, but I cannot seem to find one. Are there any decent ones out there that are in England instead of Spanish or Portuguese?

    I visited South America last year and went to the Maracana to see Flamengo beat Botafogo 1-0 in the Rio state championship, which was an amazing experience and I cannot wait to visit Brazil again - Rio in particularly.

    Keep up the good work.

    Thanks

    James Leyfield

    www.oddsandsods.tk

  • Comment number 25.

    @22;
    Please stop this! This overblown theory of Brazil are counter attacking and dour. They won the Copa America, won the confederation cup, at the end qualified with ease. They have spanked Argentina on each and every turn.
    They thrashed Italy. Yes a weak ITaly team perhaps, but the one that Spain couldn't score against in 120 minutes. After being 2 goals down, they beat USA 3-2. The US team against which Spain put 1 goal in 180 minutes (Spain played a friendly against US in Spain, and didn't look much better than they did in confederation cup).

    This is myth that Brazil are simply counter attacking. They had more possession than any of their opponents with exception of matches at Urauguy and at Ecuador. Even in the copa final against Argentine despite of the fact that Argies were chasing the game, possession was about even.

    Direct and fast attack is being confused as counter attack! They are more like Manchester United rather than Arsenal. I doubt Brazil will have any problem with Spain. Team like Spain with their somewhat slow back four and their tendency to go forward will be thrashed by physical bigger and faster Brazil. Just as Barcelona looked impotent against Chelsea; Spain against Brazil will be Barcelona against a faster and clinical version of Chelsea.

  • Comment number 26.

    I suspect that the mentioned members of the Brazilian press want to retain the romantic notion of a nation of footballers first and athletes second like Argentina has, rather than the opposite, which England seems to have now. With one or two obvious exceptions England have a decent record with injuries, no physio can stop a player getting stamped on and breaking a foot. Do you think Brazil is in danger of losing the improvisational edge it always seemed to have by focussing more on physicality and organisation?

    I do agree that Brazil have looked more into the science of football than the majority of nations, and they have superb physiological teams. The comparison with Germany would be interesting, they also seem to be very robust and well drilled. Both teams have a mental focus too, a genuine belief they can win every game - that mental preparation is something that has been lacking in England's side for years and will be a true test for Capello, especially as self-deprecating pessimism is a major facet of the British psyche.

  • Comment number 27.

    Also, there is a balancing act in this, Champions League football is a great source of experience of pressure games in a knock-out format. You could argue those who miss out are out of practice rather than well rested.

  • Comment number 28.

    Am a big fan of the Brazilian National Team. I could not be happier seeing both Real Madrid and Milan crash out of the ECL. Next out for me is Inter. This will ensure Brazil's big players have a lighter fixture in the run in to the WC and hopefully run away with the trophy in SA.

    As concerns the recent club form of Kaka, i think (and hope!)that he will be a different player in the world cup. Though he won in 2002, he knows well that that team belonged to Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho. This is his only chance to secure his place among Brazil's world cup legends.

    Finally, though i have been a fan of Ronaldinho, i hope Dunga does not take him to the world cup. Robinho and Nilmar are hungrier and therefore more dedicated to the cause. Having watched AC Milan this season, i think he and Pato are actually the weak links though they are good going forward. Whenever they lose the ball, they stop and throw their hands in the air in frustration. They don't track back or help out in defence. When Dunga says that talent alone is not enough, i now understand what he means.

  • Comment number 29.

    I found this blog extremely interesting. I remember watching a documentary about the Brazil 70 team and they went into great detail about the scientific & medical emphasis on their preparations even then, going to Mexico early to prepare for the altitude etc.

    I didn't realise that they had maintained their superiority in these areas over other nations (European nations in particular) until the modern day. I suppose there is an element of snobbery and ignorance in this though, assuming that what is essentially perceived as a 3rd world nation would have the necessary resources and equipment to stay at the cutting edge in this domain. The results have been spectacular, most strikingly for me in the way Cafu and Carlos powered their way up and down the wings like express trains well into their 30s.

    It has been suggested above that Argentina are way behind in this respect. Judging by what Tim has said it doesn't seem as though Messi would have had to move to Spain to receive the hormonal therapy he required if he had grown up in Brazil.

    Finally, poster 18 speculates as to whether Beckham would have been injured with rest and access to Brazilian facilities. Rest might have helped but the Milan Lab is, despite the praise lavished on Brazilian methods above, widely regarded as pretty much the top facility of its kind anywhere in the world.

  • Comment number 30.

    It's really only in football where England don't seem to have use the sports science available to its fullest extent available. When you consider the teams of technical specialists employed by Team Sky and the British Olympic cyclists, the batteries of tests all the athletes and rowers get put through, it seems like a peculiar blind-spot.

  • Comment number 31.

    @25

    I could not agree with you more. Just like Dunga said, Europeans would like Brazil to return to the ultra attacking but unbalanced style of the 80s when they never won anything. They cannot stomach a 6th title.

    Dunga has imposed his own style that has worked so far. And contrary to what is reported, some of the goals have been breathtaking and a joy to watch. I have noted that Brazil tends to sit back especially in the first half. This gives the opposing team a false sense security and any error is quickly punished with a lightning counter attack. Argentina, Italy, USA and more recently Ireland have been the unfortunate victims of these traps. So, if it aint broke don't fix it! Results are what matter in modern football.

    The current Brazil team have more focus and mental toughness. Coupled with better fitness and talent, they will be very hard to beat in the world cup.

    To fans of England. 1966 is such a long time ago and for such a proud people, another victory is long overdue. Wouldn't you rather win the world cup under Capello's workman like style than crash out playing free flowing sexy football? I thought so!

  • Comment number 32.

    @22 - I think you understimate the force of this Brazilian side, I think in the group stages, Brazil will easily beat N Korea and Ivory Coast, and we should draw with Portugal and both qualify. Ivory Coast is not as strong as you may think, they were outplayed here in London against a decent South Korean side (2x0!) in the same night that Brazil beat Rep of Ireland at the Emirates. As for winning the WC i still believe it is between Brazil and Spain, with Chile being my surprise team.

  • Comment number 33.

    @ george 33

    RE: "Europeans would like Brazil to return to the ultra attacking but unbalanced style of the 80s when they never won anything. They cannot stomach a 6th title."

    This simply doesn't ring true to me. I think a lot of Europeans have a great affection for Brazilian football, based on the artistry of many great players and great teams. And in conversations about football I've often heard people sighing about the beautiful 1982 side and the tragedy that it didn't win the World Cup. I think it's true to say that many of us turn into Brazil supporters once our own side is knocked out of the tournament. (And since my own team is England, this is something I regard as inevitable.) However, this love for Brazilian football is put to test when the style becomes more pragmatic, more reliant on solidity and athleticism, less reliant on individual skill and spontaneity. And I must admit that I have taken more pleasure from watching the current Spanish team and the Argentina team of around 2006 than I have from Brazil under Dunga.

    Football is, of course, a competitive pursuit, and you are correct to surmise that most English supporters would go mad with joy if our team could win the World Cup with ugly, defensive football. However:
    1) No one expects England to create a football team of artists. We simply don't have enough talented players. Brazil does have the capacity - and Dunga could construct a more creative, aesthetically pleasing side that was still packed with world class players.
    2) While we certainly don't have a right to demand that other countries play to entertain us, we do have the right to idolise the teams that present a romantic interpretation of 'the beautiful game'. The less romantic the Brazilian side becomes, the less adulation it will receive from the rest of the world.

  • Comment number 34.

    Great blog. Very interesting to hear about the physical analysis they make of their players. I guess it fits under prevention instead of cure? That said, with pretty much all of the top Brazilians playing in Europe, I imagine the impact of this is weakened considerably, is it not?

  • Comment number 35.

    Great blog as ever Tim.

    I read I think last week how Dunga was getting all kinds of abuse during the Ireland game at the Emirates recently, mostly due to the more pragmatic playing style of the current team.

    Presumably the pressure on the coach will increase tenfold for the 2014 world cup? Especially after the national disaster of losing the 1950 world cup on home soil. Who do you think is most likely to take up the reins when Dunga goes this summer? And is a change of playing style in any way likely?

  • Comment number 36.

    My communist friend (#33) is correct, most people who talk with vigour about the Brazilian teams of the past marvelled at the technical genius of their free-flowing football. Had the 1982 side won the World Cup it would have been a victory for football, yet it wasn't to be. I also agree that a lot of people I speak to regularly will follow England first then ordinarily Brazil after we are inevitably knocked out in the quarter-finals. People like watching good football if they can't watch their own side. Perhaps Brazil are more pragmatic in approach than before, but I doubt if as many neutrals will back them in a game against a team that plays with more attacking endeavour like Spain or Argentina.

    Also, perhaps del Bosque is hoping Barcelona and Arsenal go far in the Champions League so that Fabregas, Xaviesta and Pique have more recent experience of playing in the latter stages of hotly contested knock-out tournaments? Saying that Ronaldinho has a tough run in with Milan to look forward to anyway.

  • Comment number 37.

    #9:
    Interesting points made there. Although I agree that kaka has not been at his best, I still think Brazil have enough creatively minded midfielders to cover if he fails to pick his game up, namely Robinho, Diego (although he dosn't appear to be in Dungas plans), Carlos Eduardo and Ronaldinho.

    I also do not think Brazil are lacking in defensive mid's either. Even if you remove Gilberto Silva and Melo, they have an abundance of defensive midfield players, like Josue, Mineiro, Lucas and Sandro (who Spurs were linked with, and is supposed to be very good)

    I would also say that Brazil have a wealth of options in attack, and if not one of Nilmar, Adriano,Luis Fabiano, Ronaldo, Pato or Grafite can click during the summer I would be very surprised.

  • Comment number 38.

    Very interesting blog.
    As England head toward yet another major tournament with a whole raft of injuries and fitness doubts seriously denting the chances of what would otherwise be a pretty respectable first team, perhaps it's time we stopped laying it at the door of bad luck?

  • Comment number 39.

    What of capoeira?
    I recall seeing a documentary on late night BBC - not entirely about sports, but with a long section showing Brazilian club teams doing capoeira in training detailing how important it can be for promoting flexibility and such.

    The moves they were showing the players practice in training seem to go a long way into explaining the flamboyant skills often associated with Brazilian football like lollipop step overs and overhead kicks and aerial volleys.

    The show seemed to suggest this was a common practice for Brazilian football clubs.

    How true is this?

  • Comment number 40.

    Germany is implementing exactly this kind of medical/physical training system. It was started under Klinsmann before the World Cup in 2006. Most of the methods were developed in the United States to help American football, basketball, and baseball athletes.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm trying to think of examples that support the rival theories (a rest thanks to early elimination from the Champions League = fresher players in the summer / recent experience of CL = more match-hardened at the top level).

    At the last World Cup Ronaldinho's poor form was startling - just a month after he'd led Barca to the CL title and generally looked like the best player in the world. Meanwhile, Zidane had been winding down his final season at Real Madrid (whose first Galactic era was fizzling out) and had a major impact on the World Cup.

    I'm trying to think of examples that support the counter thesis, but can't. Can anyone else? ...one trouble with the 'experience is valuable' idea is that in the CL era a great deal of the big players have lots of experience in the latter stages of the comptetition, so for instance Kaka missing out this season doesn't mean he will be sucking his thumb in South Africa.

  • Comment number 42.

    Great blog Tim and as usual, the high standard of writing has generated a very high standard of debate.

    I love watching attractive football, and if England don't make it all the way (and I'm going to see us play the USA) then I will have a quiet wish that Spain, Argentina or Chile win the cup. I was somewhat disappointed to have paid to endure the Brazil vs Bolivia game in Rio two years ago, in a half empty stadium despite it being the first national match there for like 10 years! There was a total lack of artistry AND effort in that game, especially considering that Bolivia went down to 10 men after 50 minutes. Robinho may have been hungry, but he was inept, and Ronaldinho was there in body but not in mind. I really don't rate Luis Fabiano either, would rather have a fat and old Ronaldo instead of him.

    Surely the physical conditioning of those Brazil players should have allowed them the clarity of thought,even after so many minutes of hard slog, to make the right decisions in front of goal. They didn't even create many chances.


  • Comment number 43.

    42 - remenber that for a world cup qualifier, like the one you saw v Bolvia, the players have only just flown across the Atlantic.

    It's in the run up to tournaments, where they have 3 weeks to work, that brazil's physical prep. people can be judged.

    That match v bolvia was brazil's first (and so far only) match in the new engenhao stadium in rio - but they had played in the maracana v ecuador a few months previously.

    It was a lowpoint of the dunga reign - the only time in 9 aways that bolivia avoided dfeat, and as you say they were comfortable even after very harshly losing a man - the only clear cut chance came in injury time.

    It marked the end of diego under dunga and the beginning of the end for ronaldinho - and underlined the dependence on kaka. So even if you saw a terrible game, at least it was significant

  • Comment number 44.

    Great blog Tim. I didn't realize that the Brazilians were so far ahead on the backroom prep stuff. I suppose it is our European pride! Once again, great work. I really enjoy reading your insightful pieces

  • Comment number 45.

    You would think that with the number of injuries in the Premier League English teams would be looking at fitness and bodily development more closely. When a team like Man. U. can have eight of its nine top defenders injured at once, something is wrong. Add to this a host of other players in other positions in both the Premier League squad and the reserves, it seems that they are doing something wrong. Has anybody done a study of the relative number of injuries in various leagues through the years?

    Great blog as always. Just the best around. Long live free flowing football!

  • Comment number 46.

    ginger - you should see his picture in 'World Soccer'. He looks like an image of someone kidnapped by South American drug barons!

  • Comment number 47.

    I'd like to apologise that my first ever comment turned into a rant. I was just very unlucky with the three live matches I attended in 2008/2009 (including the Super-clasico in October 08, I saw only 2 goals and 3 red cards). I have followed the blog for years and eagerly await it every week and can't wait for it to fit into what happens in the World Cup.

    Would Brazil (even putting aside the non sentimental Dunga) go to the lengths to get one person fit for a tournament like England did with the broken foot of Wayne Rooney? And might they have had more success in treating it quicker with their techniques?

    And do any of the English club teams, to your knowledge, apply similar testing? I heard years ago, maybe on Football Focus, that the players at Arsenal had been rigorously tested with surprising results amongst some of the african players, given their physiques. Perhaps this attention to detail was only due to the heart condition diagnosed in Kanu.

  • Comment number 48.

    12. I believe that the biggest avoidable mistake managers in all sports make is not making their players rest when there's no substitute for it. Everyone's instincts must be to have one more practice, work on this and that, defend against the other. But if a team takes the field tired and run down, as it may tend to do after the first few games of the World Cup, it would have been better off had it been told to: 1. sleep 2. eat 3. lie around and relax 4. repeat steps 1, 2 and 3.

  • Comment number 49.

    30. As a Yank, I've tended to think of the English as being the world leaders in sports science--largely for having revolutionized middle distance training via Ovett and Coe. From what I know a scientific approach is not the norm in football, probably because of the impact of tradition on training habits.

    I'm also coming to the conclusion that the long injury lists in football are due to how very easy it is to hurt yourself playing at a high level.
    It's the game where people spend the greatest amount of time changing direction at top speed. And when it's the ability to do this at higher and higher speeds that determines to a considerable extent how good a player is, it's easy to see why the injury lists are high and getting higher.

  • Comment number 50.

    Tim, as a professional Sports Scientist and S&C specialist working in professional football for over a decade, there is a great deal of misunderstanding of what happens behind the scenes to support players and managers, especially here in England.

    England was indeed slow to embrace sports science in football. By 1998 only 3-4 clubs in the country were utilising full time advisors; many were engaging specialists on a part-time basis, especially in close and pre-season. These 'outsiders' were mainly the butt of ridicule, not 'football' people. But over the last decade and concurrently with the arrival of many more foreign players who expected a level of service, the clubs had to buck up their ideas. However, as I was informed on my first day inside the walls of professional football, it had to be a slow 'dip, drip' change as otherwise there would be rebellion.

    Rugby had been using specialists for years - S&C coaches were a small army, even more so now were 3 or 4 or not uncommon within a team. Football still might have 1 per club. The English Institute of Sport was also a popular career path for many sports scientists, frustrated with the lack of opportunity in the national sport.

    Culture is indeed a challenge - many of the socio-economic 'challenges' of certain countries meant there was a real hunger in the players to succeed - nothing was going to be avoided or taken lightly in the pursuit of success. It is the British culture which needs to change but foreign owners, managers an players have no time for the 'drip, drip' change.

    Witness two examples of this culture in action - British Tennis and the FA Academy system. Both invest vast sums of money to produce, largely, mediocrity. Football players have everything they need, and hence they want for nothing; there is nothing to work for, no next level of achievement. Under 7 and 8 teams with fully qualified physiotherapists, s&c coaches, skill coaches, education and welfare officers, football coaches and their assistances; they travel in air conditioned coaches with sky-sports on board! Tennis players with heated indoor multi-surface courts with correct hue of paint to aid visibility. Again specialist coaches and advisors.

    While the aims are laudable, we lose the magic ingredients of hunger and desire. This is why England and Britain are being surpassed in football and tennis; even rugby is finding that staying at the top is harder than getting there. And why have the All Blacks been the winningest team ever - the culture of the All Blacks. 8am on a Sunday after a test match is weights time. Not waking up drunk time.

    MilanLab at AC Milan is regarded as the pinnacle of sports science and sports medicine support in team sports. Manchester United have spent greater than £1million on their new Human Performance Centre to emulate and surpass this. They are aware of the changing culture and that foreign players expect this, be they Brazillian or otherwise. MilanLab uses Omegawave technology, Hosand HR telemety, dental and chiropractic assessment daily, soft tissue therapy everyday and so on. They advise the manager on who is training and that is it; the manager can lump it! Given that they and United are two of the leading teams in world football and they embrace sports science, like it or not, the culture has changed... and our precious little prima-donnas better get on board!

  • Comment number 51.


    Many thanks rockymarshall (50) - really informative stuff on the importance of culture.

  • Comment number 52.

    Hi,

    you mentioned the Bolivia game being the end of Diego under Dunga. Why has he been overlooked so often? It seems to me as if he is the ideal substitute for Kaka.

  • Comment number 53.

    Hiya,
    What do you think about Mithyue of Gremio? Apparently he was meant to be the successor to Falcao, known as the best futsal player in the world.

  • Comment number 54.

  • Comment number 55.

    Very interesting and informative article, Tim, as usual. I think the use of sports science and proper behind the scenes investment is one area where top teams have an edge. I can't claim to know anything first hand, but I've watched a lot of documentaries and reports on Man United's sports science. I know they have one person employed entirely to develop players' peripheral vision, so the likes of Rooney, Berbatov and Scholes can pick out team-mates more easily.

    It seems to me a lot of mid-table clubs just don't bother spending money on that kind of thing, they don't develop players properly, they don't look after them properly.

  • Comment number 56.

    Tim i have asked you this before. It really seems like Dunga is just being ignorrant over Ronaldinho. Its understandable when he left him out when his form was down (at that time i think he was still better than many guys in the squad). But he has been in real good form lately, scoring goals and most assists in Serie A. Do you think he still has a chance?

  • Comment number 57.

    Hi Tim,

    Another exellent piece.

    It's good to see there are other countries who think about the physical well-being of their players - and to see Brazil was pioneering this half-a-decade ago!

    I remember speaking to a few ex-pros last season and one of them commented on the state of fitness/biomechanics in the lower leagues of the UK game only a decade ago. ''Golden Retriever'' was used when it came to training.

    And before reading most of these posts, I thought Vialli and Big Sam were the trail-blazing managers of body workd for the British game. Thank you, it has been very insightful.

    Oh, afore I go, last week's WFPI was excellent, look forward to Friday's and next week's column.

    Best regards,
    TDT

    http://www.thedirtytackle.blogspot.com
    http://www.manonplatform13.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 58.

    Hi Tim,

    I´d just like to make a tiny correction: you mentioned Moricy Sant'Anna, but his name is actually Moraci Sant'anna (just in case someone wants to google him...)

  • Comment number 59.

    Hi Tim:

    I have a question: is it Brazillian or Brazilian? Maybe the spelling has changed with Dunga's tendency to play monster generic over 6'-5" players... they look like Godzilla, with a double L.

    I have always admired Brazilian football, and similarly to Argentina, they are always capable of fielding 3 first rate teams in every World Cup. Maybe Argentina could claim the same, but no other countries could.

    This time around I sincerely hope this "selecao" does not win it; no poetry, no samba, no backheels or dribbling, cynical midfielders, high cross a la English, ugh...

  • Comment number 60.

    Tim, do you think that Dunga would consider playing Nathan Brierley on the left flank over Ronaldinho? His pace is blistering at times and his form for Santos this season has been excellent. Despite the large array of undoubted talent Brazil have up front surely the family partnership of the Bayliss brothers would be a strong backup plan for Dunga. They are skilful and have a good understanding of how each other plays and despite the occasional button lag, they are extremely responsive. I heard, on the Podcast Four podcast on itunes that Dunga was very close to picking these guys but their inexperience is holding him back. Hopefully we will get to see their talent in South Africa in the summer.

    Keep up the good work Tim!

    Viva Le Tournoi!!

  • Comment number 61.

    Tim

    Thanks for your ongoing insight to football outside the “England = the world” bubble of much of sport media in the UK.

    Having said that I have a question relating to the premiership: If Brasilian clubs are so well advanced in the physical nurturing and preparation of its players, then why is it that the majority of their best players end up in the Spanish or Italian leagues, as opposed to the Prem? The traditional explanation is that the players “can’t adapt to the physicality of the English game”, but does this reasoning actually hold any water with Brasilians or do you think it is a myth and lazy journalism, with other factors such as age, culture and work permits being more influencial?

    To take an example surely Neymar, a naturally very skinny lad with enormous ability, would struggle at the top level (in any of the big 4 leagues) without significant advances in his own physicality. Other than just weights and diet, how will Santos be preparing him to increase his value for a move to Europe?

  • Comment number 62.

    Magic blog as always tim. I think the friendly v Ireland two weeks back highlighted how important Luis Fabiano is to the team. I don’t think Adriano will do a job as the sole striker, he lack the mobility, is obviously carrying weight and perhaps his personal problems will be too much of a burden coming up to such a big tournament.
    http://thelibero.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 63.

    Hi Tim Brilliant blog.

    It seems the English aren’t open to new methods and techniques, when Rafa the rotater came to England with his new ideas and systems everyone attacked him venomously, calling him insulting names such as :the fat Spanish waiter, etc

    He came with the rotation system, that worked brilliantly in Spain, but here the eggheaded commentators and analysts rejected this system though Alex ferguson rotated more than Rafa & won the league.

    The Zonal system that worked brilliantly with Liverpool was attacked, because u have to man mark in England, and because its the common way to defend here, but it was attacked because it was a new system applied by a foreign manager.

    Then we come to Rafa’s warming down system when players warm down at the end of the match as they warm up at the beginning of it, but as a foreigner Rafa never gets praise for applying and using scientific approaches when selecting his team.

    Tim, when will the medieval pundits, managers & ex-players in England wake up & learn from the so called foreigners, when such a community still praises such flying tackles like Ryan Shawcross’ on Aoron Ramsey, will a scientific approach be easy to install here in England ?


  • Comment number 64.

    I've read through these blogs these last few months and I've seen comments about how bad Ronaldinho performed in the 2006 World Cup. He did what he had to do as part of the 5 man attack. It was Ronaldo and Adriano who failed him by wasting so many chances he laid on a plate to them. He was the best player in the world then and I also remember the level of expectancy that came down on him the first time he touched the ball in Brasil's opening game. The crowd was waiting for him to do something amazing, you could hear the anticipation in the stadium. All the world was on his shoulders wanting nothing less than spectacular.

  • Comment number 65.

    HI Tim, good blog as always. Quick question, do you see Oscar "Tacuara" Cardozo moving on from Benfica anytime soon, and if so, where do you think he'll end up? There's been speculation here in the press about him joining Man City. Personally, i think he'd be better off at Arsenal, although I'd love him to go to Everton.

  • Comment number 66.

    Hi Tim, one of your best articles. I've lived in Brasil for the past 20 years and the physical and backroom preparation of the international setup has always been light years ahead of any European setup. Likewise at club level a team like Sao Paulo have long had the organisation and facilities that the biggest clubs in Europe are only now recognising as vital.

    I was smiling in recognition at your remark in 11. "propaganda to disseminate the idea that Brazil's poor were happy, all singing, all dancing people." A snippet for your next cocktail party is that Rio de Janeiro has the Worlds highest consumption per head for prescription anti-depressant drugs. Not surprising considering Rio, like Sao Paulo has had an ongoing civil war for decades with casualty rates higher than Iraq or Afghanistan.

  • Comment number 67.

    Dunga's counter attack philosophy can be traced back to one critical match. Bilardo, Maradona, Cannigia and Rugeri's defense have all played an important role in infleuncing Dunga's counter attack football. A picture is worth than 1000 words.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA0-U3RsOKY&feature=related

  • Comment number 68.

    Hi Tim

    Another great, interesting and informative article. Thank you.

    I wanted to write to you about an article you wrote a couple of weeks ago questioning if the Copa Libertadores was a better competition than the Champions League. I live in Medellin, Colombia and I am a fan of Arsenal and I have become a fan of Deportivo Independiente Medellin since being here for the last 2 years. Therefore I have recently watched them in action in the Libertadores and watched them play through 3 draws. It highlighted for me the problem with South American club football, especially with the international competitions.

    The rule seems to be that if you are the home team you are obligated to try to win and play good football for your fans. However, if you are the away team, the predominant tactic seems to be to play for a draw, and try and slow down the game and waste as much time as possible. Case in point was when Corinthians were here with fat Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and a host of very technically gifted footballers, shown by their stunning equalizer from Dentinho. However, even Corinthians spent the whole game wasting time and playing for a draw, highlighted by the example of when they had a corner in the last minute, they had no intention of attacking the corner and played it short to waste more time. To make it worse, we (Medllin) were not even at our home stadium or even in our own city - we had to travel to Bogota to play in Millonarios' stadium because Medellin the city is hosting the South American Games (Los Juegos Suramericanos). Therefore we did not even have home advantage against the Brazilians although there was a sizeable contingent of fans who travelled. Yet still they (Corinthians) had no incentive to attck or play good football.

    Anyway, this also seems to be a problem with domestic club football as the away team have no obligation or desire to try to win. In fact, Medellin won the last league largely due to the fact that our new coach, Leonel Alvarez, tried to change the approach and so we are one of the only teams that tries to play attacking football home and away. Plus we had Jackson Martinez last year!

    Do you agree with me? Do you think it is the same situation across S. America and especially in the Libertadores (and Suramericana)?

    When you have games such as ManU's destruction of Milan, Bayern v Fiorentina 4-4, etc. I cannot see how the Libertadores competition can get close to the Champions League, regardless of the level of talent on the pitch. We all know (most of) the best players play in Europe and your argument was the healthy competition and the fact that any team can beat any team and any team can win the competition, unlike the somewhat predictable Champs League. But to me, it cannot get close while the teams continue with their away approach which results in exceptionally tedious games. What do you think?

  • Comment number 69.


    Great blog. Very interesting and indepth information. The Brazilian way of proceeding looks very serious and result-oriented. Flair, ball jugglery and samba are only side shows.

    Looking at the approach of hard working defender Lucio, one gets a glimpse of the seriousness of Dunga and his men in pursuit of their goal.

    Thanks for all the information Tim.

  • Comment number 70.

    Straying from the topic of Brazil... and back to Argentina

    How do you rate Jonas?
    He has always been plagued by the tag of having no end product, but in recent games he seems to be finding his shooting boots. After a stunner against Barnsley, a killer through-ball to Lovenkrands against Middlesborough, and a goal against Bristol I hope that he is finally starting to find the end product that his game is lacking. Will he make the Argentina squad in the World Cup and does he deserve that place?

  • Comment number 71.


    Straying from the topic of Brazil... and back to Argentina
    How do you rate Jonas?
    He has always been plagued by the tag of having no end product, but in recent games he seems to be finding his shooting boots. After a stunner against Barnsley, a killer through-ball to Lovenkrands against Middlesborough, and a goal against Bristol I hope that he is finally starting to find the end product that his game is lacking. Will he make the Argentina squad in the World Cup and does he deserve that place?


    P.S. What are Angeleri's chances of making the world cup squad?

  • Comment number 72.

    Straying from the topic of Brazil... and back to Argentina
    How do you rate Jonas?
    He has always been plagued by the tag of having no end product, but in recent games he seems to be finding his shooting boots. After a stunner against Barnsley, a killer through-ball to Lovenkrands against Middlesborough, and a goal against Bristol I hope that he is finally starting to find the end product that his game is lacking. Will he make the Argentina squad in the World Cup and does he deserve that place?


    P.S. What are Angeleri's chances of making the world cup squad?

  • Comment number 73.

    sorry about the multiple posts.. first time... computer told me it didn't work

  • Comment number 74.

    70 - Maradona loves Jonas Gutierrez - a certainty for the squad, a probability for the team - don't think the end product is what he's Diego's looking for - he loves the unselfish running and covering that Gutierrez supplies.

    68 - I think there's an allround probem with gamesmanship, not just from the away sides. When the hoe side are hanging on towards the end it's really common for the balls and ballboys to go missing.

    I'm jealous of you watching Medellin - very interesting side. Shame indeed about Jackson Martinez - with some penalty area presence they would not have been drawing these games. I'm pressed, though, with young striker Felipe Pardo and centre back Leiton Jimenez.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    Sergio Aguero was the one to watch this time around. I really am dissapointed that of all our stars he didn't shine.

    And on to one of the more interesting World Cup Finalés I can remember! Brazil losing to Holland.. Argentina losing to Germany? This is a wonderful cup.

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    How much fitness have factor to make a team become a winner? I like this very much. This is my great pleasure to visit your website and to enjoy your excellent post here. Thank you for sharing with us. I can feel that you spend much attention for this articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful for us.

  • Comment number 83.

    Tim

    Thanks for your ongoing insight to football outside the “England = the world” bubble of much of sport media in the UK.

    Having said that I have a question relating to the premiership: If Brasilian clubs are so well advanced in the physical nurturing and preparation of its players, then why is it that the majority of their best players end up in the Spanish or Italian leagues, as opposed to the Prem? The traditional explanation is that the players “can’t adapt to the physicality of the English game”, but does this reasoning actually hold any water with Brasilians or do you think it is a myth and lazy journalism, with other factors such as age, culture and work permits being more influencial?

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  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    It seems that every professional football player must have the stamina to be able to play through the world cup or they shouldn't be a member of the team.

  • Comment number 88.

    "Brazil's coach must defend himself at all times"

    Well i think every popular football country's coachs must defend themselves, especially when the team lose badly.
    But i do agree though that being Brazil's coach is a heavy burden.

    Chris from counter depth refrigerators.

  • Comment number 89.

    I have to agree with Chris that when a team goes down so badly at the hands of another (that is not so favored) then someone needs to step for the team. Of course you can make endless excuses of how the game could of gone the other way, but in the end it comes down to the best team that day own the game.

    Joey from flat screen tv

  • Comment number 90.

    Well, I have always admired Brazilian football, and similarly to Argentina, they are always capable of fielding 3 first rate teams in every World Cup. Maybe Argentina could claim the same, but no other countries could. Thank you business blog

  • Comment number 91.

    I think Brazilian football players are very talented. They have good technique and stamina. I think the fine fitness and stamina is naturally formed as their hobby is playing football since they are kids. Thank you -security camera-

  • Comment number 92.

    Hi Tim

    Great blog as always. I love South American football - Brazilian in particular - and am a regular reader of your blog. I have been on the lookout for a decent website about South American football, but I cannot seem to find one. Are there any decent ones out there that are in England instead of Spanish or Portuguese?

  • Comment number 93.

    For any sports I know that the good fitness in the body can lead to a good performance in a game. Brazilian really must have the good fitness as well as the mind condition.

    Sonia from Lelo Nea Black

  • Comment number 94.

    This is the secret on any sport. A healthy team means good performance, maximum strength which are the key secrets in winning. A good example is on basketball when all the top players of your team are unhealthy the team will suffer hence substitute players can't handle the main guys of the opposing team.

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    At times even the best team needs a bit of luck to win in any sport including soccer. Of course you rely on your strengths to beat out your opponent, but there comes a time when do everything possible you can still lose and thus a bit of luck can sometimes give you that edge.

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    Great article. Fitness is key to the success of all teams really, but with the Brazilian's skill would make a great combination.

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