BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery

Archives for March 2011

Brazil show Argentina way forward

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Tim Vickery | 09:06 UK time, Monday, 28 March 2011

Taking on Scotland at the Emirates was more than just another friendly for Brazil, more than the chance to return to winning ways after two defeats, and even more than a warm up for July's Copa America.

The game got to grips with one of the fundamental issues facing the five-time world champions as they prepare for triumph number six in front of their own fans in 2014.

"We need to learn to play against defensive sides," said Mano Menezes last July in his first press conference as coach of Brazil.

"If teams stay back we get irritated - but the opposition has every right to play defensively."

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Adriano struggling to find suitors after Roma departure

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Tim Vickery | 08:47 UK time, Monday, 21 March 2011

When Roma signed Brazilian striker Adriano last year, the club directors may as well have lit their cigars with high denomination banknotes or poured their money down a rathole. They were quite happy to tear up his contract earlier this month and received no money in return.

This, though, is not the story of a player unable to adapt to life in a foreign country.

For a good five years, Adriano was a top-class striker in Italian football, a giant centre forward with a howitzer left foot that was also capable of surprising subtlety. And yet, at 29 and theoretically at his peak, he seems unlikely to play in Europe again. Only a very brave or foolhardy European club would give yet another chance to a player who has been wasting them for the last five years.

Adriano is an extreme example of one of the striking features of contemporary football - inconsistency at the top level of the game.

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South American sides make capital gain

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Tim Vickery | 13:24 UK time, Monday, 14 March 2011

With Tottenham into the last eight and Chelsea likely to join them, London is in with another chance of ending its wait for the Champions League success.

But London is not the only capital city to have missed out on Europe's biggest club prize. Rome, Paris and Berlin have never won it either.

It is a different story in South America, where the continent's capital cities have had a stranglehold on the Copa Libertadores, their equivalent of the Champions League.

The explanation is straightforward enough.

Most South American nations are dominated by a single city, usually the port through which raw materials were exported and manufactured products brought in. Football is a game of the city, so the big clubs tend to be clustered in the capital.

Brazil is an exception. Its capital, Brasilia, is a modern city inaugurated in 1960, the same year that the Libertadores was launched. It has yet to produce a top-class team. Rio de Janeiro, the previous capital, has won the Libertadores, as have Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte, the other major footballing centres.

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Is Luiz the new Lucio?

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Tim Vickery | 16:14 UK time, Monday, 7 March 2011

Is David Luiz destined to be a pillar of the defence and a leader of men for club and country? With their latest Brazilian acquisition, have Chelsea signed the new Lucio?

There are clear similarities, not all of them complementary.

Luiz, already in Portugal with Benfica, first appeared on the radar screen of the average Brazilian fan during a disastrous World Youth Cup campaign in Canada in 2007, mixing up some slipshod defending with disciplinary problems.

It was all slightly reminiscent of Lucio's introduction to the great Brazilian public at the 2000 Olympics. With time running out and the team needing a goal to force extra time against Cameroon, Lucio led the charge out of defence. He was in a good position on the edge of the area and expected to receive a return pass from midfielder Roger. It did not come. Instead, Roger dwelt on the ball and was fouled. Before the free-kick could be taken, Lucio charged furiously over to his team-mate and headbutted him.

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