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Grafite poses threat to Man Utd

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Tim Vickery | 07:51 UK time, Monday, 28 September 2009

Manchester United might find themselves up against a striker with a point to prove when they take on Wolfsburg in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Grafite almost certainly woke up last Thursday morning hoping that it would be his day. Coach Dunga was about to name Brazil's squad for the final two rounds of World Cup qualification, away to Bolivia and at home to Venezuela, and with a place in South Africa already booked, there were likely to be some experiments.

Grafite's club performances had been pushing his claims for an international call-up.
Last season he could not stop scoring for Wolfsburg and he began this season's Champions League campaign with a hat-trick against CSKA.

For years considered a journeyman striker in Brazil, the 30-year-old had now lifted himself to a different level - but not, as it turned out, into the national team.

Grafite has yet to force his way into Dunga's squadGrafite scores the final goal in Wolfsburg's 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow

Dunga's side are hardly struggling for strikers. Luis Fabiano, an ex-partner of Grafite at Sao Paulo, is top scorer in World Cup qualification - as he also was in the Confederations Cup, Nilmar scored a hat-trick in Brazil's last game and Adriano is back in form - joint top scorer in the Brazilian championship - and back in favour.

Dunga chose to keep this group together and the other striker named was Diego Tardelli of Atletico Mineiro, a swift and skilful player who has been included in recent squads.

With things going well it is hard to break in from outside and now there are only friendlies in mid-November and next March before final World Cup squads are named, so it is going to take something special - an injury to someone else or perhaps another hat-trick at Old Trafford - for Grafite to force his way in.

Brazil have the luxury of leaving out such a free-scoring striker, and of ignoring Amauri, the Juventus forward who may throw in his lot with Italy. And there is Ronaldo as well, back from his latest injury and on target once more for Corinthians on Sunday.

The strength in depth of Brazilian football is truly amazing. Where do they all come from? What's the big secret? Some will tell you that it is futsal, the indoor five-a-side game that is possibly now Brazil's most played sport.

There is indeed much to be said for futsal as an aid in player development. Small sided games give players more touches of the ball. And playing in reduced space clearly helps train on against one situations. Some of the tricky dribbles displayed by the Brazilians have come straight from futsal.

But, in my humble view, the idea that futsal is Brazil's big secret is going way too far. Such a claim flies in the face of geography, economics, history and the evidence from the pitch.

Much more than futsal, Brazil's secret weapon is the sheer size of the country. With a population of over 190 million, in a land where football is the only mass sport, it would be strange if Brazil did not produce plenty of players.

Then there are economic factors. Some progress is being made, but the truth is, as Sergei Soares of the country's research institute announced last week, that Brazil remains "a monument to economic inequality."

Just under 70% of the population earn less than £350 a month and he added: "A poor family will take one year to spend what the richest 1% spend in three days."

Football is a way out and youngsters are well aware of it. I have talked to gifted footballers under 10 years of age and been struck by how they see their own talent in commercial terms - they are already dreaming of the house they will buy for their mother or the flash car they will be driving and they already want to play for Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Brazil beat Spain in the 2008 world futsal final Brazil are the reigning world futsal champions

This economic drive to succeed at football is clearly the result of having role models to emulate - and it is here that the importance of history is apparent. One generation inspires the next, a process that was taking place in Brazilian football long before the mass adoption of futsal. The Brazilian tradition of producing top players predates this relatively new form of the game.

Rivelino puts in in perspective. The great left-footed attacking midfielder from the 60s and 70s was an early practitioner of futsal, which is said to be the source of his famous 'elastic' dribble.

But when he wrote his autobiography, it was entitled 'Get Out of the Street, Roberto' - the phrase he always heard his mother shouting at him.

He took little notice - and was proved right. He argues that the street formed him as a man and as a footballer. In subsequent decades urban expansion and growing violence have eaten up or rendered unsafe the old spaces where kids used to play. Hence the importance of futsal. It is a safe substitute for the greatest producer of players yet known - informal street football.

I was musing on these themes on Sunday as I watched Brazil's latest generation of hopefuls show their stuff in the World Youth Cup in Egypt and brushed aside a Costa Rica team with considerable merits 5-0. Brazil's Under-20s displayed the same ruthless pragmatism as the current senior side.

Just like Dunga's team in World Cup qualification or the Confederations Cup, the door was unlocked at set-pieces - free kicks and corners curled at pace into the opposing penalty area and attacked in the air by a phalanx of tall players.

These moves are producing rivers of goals for Brazil - and it is certainly not something they have picked up from futsal.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Other 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) As a Venezuelan, I'm ecstatic to see one of our national sides at a major competition (the World Youth Cup). What are your thoughts on this side? They've made history in Venezuela, however, Rafael Romo and José Salomón Rondón aside, most of them are unknown outside of Venezuela. Who should we be looking out for, and who do you think has the greatest chance of making the leap across the pond to one of the "Big 3" European leagues?
Diego Pacheco

A) I've written about this team in a few places, because I think this is one of the most fascinating stories that South American football has thrown up this year. OK, it probably wouldn't have happened without home advantage in the qualifying tournament, but Venezuela have qualified for the World Youth Cup for the first time - and the most interesting aspect is that coach Cesar Farias is using this Under-20 team to renew and regenerate the senior national side. Seven of the Under-20s have already appeared this year in World Cup qualifiers, other have appeared in friendlies - and all this has been done without sacrificing results.

So while Venezuela have made a fantastic start in the competition (beating Nigeria 1-0) the importance of these players goes far beyond - they are a bet for the long term. I particularly like the attacking midfielder Pena, who has already gone to Braga in Portugal. Salazar and Velasquez are a very promising centre back duo, little Del Valle up front is very tricky, Flores, Parra and Acosta in midfield are all interesting, and Romo might not be the tidiest keeper in the world, but he's effective.

I hope there's not too much pressure on them too young. Together with the established players, Arango and Maldonado, Rincon and Vargas, there is hope that Venezuela might reach the senior World Cup -2010 looks too soon (they'll have to win away to Brazil), but they start the 2014 and 18 campaigns in the running for a place.

Q) Why do you think Marquinhos hasn't been the latest player to leave for Europe? Is he likely to be one of the ones that stays around in Brazilian football for a while?
Martin Smith

A) He was a revelation of last year who has had an awful 2009. He's a frail, jitterbug figure who worked well in the system Vitoria played last year - he was breaking behind a lone striker, cutting across from the left onto his stronger right foot.

I wondered about the step up and fitting into other systems - frail and one footed is not a great combination. Moved to Palmeiras, had some injuries, didn't do anything and the team are doing very nicely without him. After 26 rounds they're top of the table and his contribution has been a grand total of nine minutes on as a sub nearly two months ago. Back to the drawing board in 2010.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Wolfsburg have been written off by the bookies in early betting, but, along with Grafite, they have some talented players. I would fully expect them to progress to the next round, which would see their starting odds of 50/1 slashed. Whether it's as group winners or runners-up, a lot depends on this weeks match...
    https://sportales.com/soccer/ucl-uefa-champions-league-200910-draw-preview-and-odds-groups-a-c/

  • Comment number 2.

    Excellent blog, Tim. I always look forward to reading your insights into Latin American football.

  • Comment number 3.

    Ha, first comment. Grafite... maybe man utd could work out a deal for him like Henrik Larrson... badly need someone to support rooney up front. he strong and gifted in front of goal though unproven in the premier league. having said that, the bundesliga is the closest to the premier league in terms of style, though the quality is a bit lower.

  • Comment number 4.

    Another great piece, Tim. I have seen a fair bit of Grafite this year, he looks a top player. However, I think Dunga has better options available. If he were English, we could say goodbye to Emile Heskey!

    Why do Brazil produce such fine talent? It can't just be socio-economical. With this logic, Nigeria and Mexico would have world-beating sides, Russia would too. I don't agree that football is the only main strean sport there. For years they have been producing top class volleyball players, swimmers, basketball players, long distance runners, racing drivers. Yes, football dominates, but I doubt it only due to futsal and economic hardship. There must be the training methods and also something genetic. There must be a gene out there that gives them that sense of rhythm, balance and control.

  • Comment number 5.

    "Get Out of the Street, Roberto", that's a great title for an autobiography, I'll try and read it. I've just watched Grafite's goal against Bayern last season, it's unbelievable!

  • Comment number 6.

    ... the boy's a diamond

  • Comment number 7.

    StokeRambo the other sports that you mention that Brazil produce such as swimming, basketball, racing drivers ect are sports that are not available to the masses, only a small proportion of people can afford to use the facilities to practise or learn these sports. Football is cheap/free there are pitches everywhere (you can see them all over the place when you fly in) therefore it is the economic factors in that they cannot afford to play other sports that is the driving factor behind the wealth of talent they have coupled with the enthusiasm for the game too!

  • Comment number 8.

    Just dont think he's good enuf to play for brasil, he's a bit sluggish and doesnt look hungry. Guess he'll neva make it lyke Amauri

  • Comment number 9.

    The English press would love someone like Grafite merely for his name alone.. imagine how many headlines the red tops could muster with that name...

  • Comment number 10.

    You heard it here first. Grafite scores 2 or three in the ties. Ferguson gushes about him and signs him in the Jan window. Utd play with Grafite up front ala Heskey ( only much better)and rooney in the hole. Utd blowing everyone away with Hargo/fletcher in midfield with scholes/giggs with their classy cameos on pacy valencia on the right and lae owen specials...DREAM ON ha ha ha

  • Comment number 11.

    #10

    what are you piping on about?

  • Comment number 12.

    Good blog as per usual Tim, but I want to raise a point with you regarding the reasons for Brasil's production line of talent.

    Certainly the points you make about size of population, futsal, economic situations etc are all good, but you fail to address the important issue - The type of footballers Brasil produce.

    Why is it Brasil create so many flair players and highly skilled players in all positions? There are other countries with large populations that don't produce the quality of player of Brasil, and, although we have a much smaller population, in England we produce very good players, but few flair players or creative players. Why? In my opinion the footballing culture in Brasil is their secret, not simply population. In Brasil they percieve the game as one of attacking flair (although I realise they are basing their current game much more on pace and power).

    In England the footballing culture for too long was based on tactics, passing and not taking risks, hence the fact we now have a dearth of creativity.

    I currently reside in Mexico, & the standard of coaching there is very poor, hence the reason why a country of 120 million population fail to produce world class players - Maybe Hugo Sanchez & Rafa Marquez aside in recent history.

    Footballing culture will determine your success in producing players, aided by population and mere numbers.

  • Comment number 13.

    Vickery,

    Can you foresee Argentina winning a World Cup in the next 20 years? I don't and it's remarkable really when you look at the quality of their players, but Brazil seem much more capable of picking good international managers.
    What's your opinion on Argentina and their chances of success with the current crop of players? I think it's a stronger squad, offensively, than Brazil.

  • Comment number 14.

    Good blog.Grafite's a superb striker and in tandem with Dzeko has the power and pace to trouble the United defence.As for making the Brazil team I think that ship has sailed!

  • Comment number 15.

    Roberto_Mexicano

    I will tell you exactly why everyone of the UK nations do not produce creative flair players on mass. Go down to a park anywhere on a Saturday or Sunday and watch what happens. To many coaches at youth level (as soon as it becomes competitive, under 13s in Scotland) want the bigger, faster players, because it gives results on a short term timescale. The more gifted, smaller or slower player, is not given the opportunity by the majority of coaches at this level and quickly stop playing football.

    One stat for you. In the progression between primary and secondary school in Scotland, (12 – 13 year old), 70% of kids who played organised football at primary school, stop playing at secondary. This is the problem. Bad coaches, teaching bad habbits and bad methods at a young age. In Scotland, it is changing, but these things take a generation to change.

    I had a discussion in a pub with a guy who hated the idea of 7 a side football for under 13s. Says it stops players development? In a study done by stirling university, in an under 13s game 11 a side, the left back got three touches of the ball in 45 minutes. In a 7 a side game, he got over 45 touches of the ball in same time frame. Tell me which is going to help the player develop? He harked back to a time 30-40 years ago in Scotland when we did produce a lot of good players. Why? Because as tim says, street football. The kids do not do this now (and have not for the last 10-15 years) and this is why Scotland is struggling.

    What you find, is people criticise the various football associations when they don’t know any better. The real reason we don’t produce enough players in the UK, is the a lot of the coaching at youth level is rubbish, and I say this, as a coach of an under 12s team, who sees a lot of football at youth level and am horrified by it.

  • Comment number 16.

    Saviola is a player who grew up on Futsal. That's what he said in a recent interview to a Portuguese paper, worth mentioning because it's very relevant. Check out the English translation here.

    Similar to some Brazilian players, do you think Saviola can return to the Argentina squad Tim? Just like Aimar was included for the last two games.

  • Comment number 17.

    benedictsamuel - good thinking but I doubt if Hargreaves will ever kick a ball again for Man Utd. as it seems there is no way back from his injury. I really question why Ferguson signed him and said so at the time as it was known then that he had a serious injury but of course in those Man Utd. had as much money as they wanted so 15 millions did not matter. It must be a little worrying for Man U. fans that it takes and old-timer like Giggs to come on and get them out of trouble. Where are the new boys like Nani and Anderson? Looks like more wasteful buys by Ferguson.

  • Comment number 18.

    @ 4

    It's an interesting question. Why does Brazil channel its socio-economic conditions into becoming the world's greatest footballer factory, while other countries of similar size and wealth have not? Perhaps it is something to do with football being established as a great nation-defining tradition, which is not quite the case in Russia, Nigeria and Mexico, however passionately the national teams are supported in those countries. Maybe if Brazil hadn't reached success in the 50s and 60s this would have declined.

    As it is, the Brazilians have 190m people, the opportunity to play, the motivation to make it out of the favelas AND a pantheon of great players to emulate - this collective memory surely says "yes, you can" as well as acting as a reference point about what to do with a football.

    I suppose there must also be broader factors that make south America more generally per capita over-achievers when it comes to football that also benefit Brazil in comparison to the other countries mentioned. Perhaps this has something to do with football arriving and thriving fairly early and the mixed populations.

  • Comment number 19.

    I'm married to a Brazilian and have been there a number of times. One reason they manage to produce good footballers is not sport related at all, it's music!
    If you've ever watched somebody dance the samba, you'll never see it done better than in Brazil. It's the quick foot work and movement control that aids their skills with the ball. It's so common place there that it's as good as hereditary!

  • Comment number 20.

    It is often stated about countries that produce very good teams in a certain sport that there are genetic variables that essentially give the people of these nations an advantage.For example the East African nations of Kenya and Ethiopia with their prowess in distance running.Or the United States with basketball and Athletics.Or the Scandinavian countries with field events.If you carefully thought about it,you'd realise that genes have little or nothing to do with it.Take for example Jeremy Wariner.He's not the prototype American athlete.Wrong race,wrong build.But he's done very well.Or the notion that only giant African American men do well in Basketball.But a closer look at the NBA decries this fallacy.What all these nations have in abundance is role models.Their life histories are household items.Meaning any youngster wanting to emulate them already knows how to go about it.This is the thing with Brazil.Some of today's stars saw Romario,Dunga,Aldair, Junior Baiano,Rivaldo,Bebeto train.And took after them.

  • Comment number 21.

    Brazilian football produces players with great technique- born from a football culture that emphasises ability on the ball and invention; futsal, beach football, street football all encourage this. but Brazil, is not the only country with this type of footballing mentality. Pretty much all of latin american, and southern european countries, esp spain and portugal, have a similar mind-set about football.
    what distinguishes Brazil, is that they also produce players with great technique who are very, very athletic, strong and fast.... and lots of them !

    this is one of the main reasons for Brazil's footballing success.

  • Comment number 22.

    #19 I get a wee bit tired of that connection.. if thats the case how come Ireland isn't doing the same as Irish dancing relies on balance and quick feet??

    I truly believe that samba may have helped one or two players but, for me, its just a romantic notion that rolled out for the imaginative...

    Never been to Brazil mind you so will be much more knowledgeable than me..

  • Comment number 23.

    Your Felipe Massas and Ronaldos (or Grafites) come from totally different backgrounds. Apart from football, sport is very expensive for the average Brazilian (even taking swimming classes is way beyond the means of the majority). So the economic situtation of Brazil is certainly a big factor. And as Tim said, football is seen as a way out. I remember talking to a local tourist guide in his late teens/early 20s who was still attending trials at major football clubs, despite never playing in any organised team, hoping to make it. While it's (remotely) possible that he may even make it, I doubt any European of his age would dream of such things at his age and his background.

    Somebody made a comparison to Russia. I'm not an expert on Russia, but it's much wealthier than Brazil and there are many other sports, especially winter sports like ice hockey, which attract huge numbers of talented atheletes "away" from football. That, and many other, better/easier/more secure, career options.

    Interesting comments on Scottish and English youth football.

  • Comment number 24.

    To #15 - MMsRedArmy

    You make some good points about the state of youth football in the UK but I don't think the situation is as bad as you say. Yes we do not produce the small, nippy technically very very gifted players like Messi or Augero but then again football is not all about these types of players. Argentina, you could argue, would do anything for a John Terry or Rio Ferdinand in their side. I player of the ability of Englands 5th or 6th choice central defender, say Gary Cahill, would walk into Argentina's first 11. The fact that an average Championship defender still being called up by them speaks volumes. Does this mean though that youth football is in Argentina is in a sorry state? Of course not.

    I think we get abit hung up on the small technically gifted players being the be all and end all as we feel they are what win trophies and championships but the truth is you need alot more than this. A team of 11 Messis would win nothing, trust me.

    It is an interesting point about why Brazil seem to be good just about everywhere. I think having a large number of top class players gives you depth but at the end of the day football is 11 vs 11 and so I don't subscribe the notion that you need a massive convebelt of talent to be successful.

  • Comment number 25.

    Tim, I am very surprised you have the privilege of living in the shadows of Maracana stadium and have learned so little about Brasil.
    The next time you are driving or riding in a taxi through Flamengo, Botafogo, from Leme to Leblon, look again and see if you can discover the joy behind the "peladas" on the beach.
    Long before it becomes a profession for a few of us, or a way out of poverty as you suggested in your blog, soccer (the real one...not the one you all play in England with the huge foreign legion from Africa and the rest of Europe!) it is part of our culture, of our growing up with friends, even strangers that would join the neighborhood afternoon gatherings with beer or guarana afterwards.
    Have you ever noticed any similarity between samba, carnaval and Brazilian soccer, the joy of being a kid again, the laughter after the drible, the criativity expressed in every movement?
    How undignified of you to use your communication skills to imply that when a kid in your little island wants to be a football player it is legitimate, but when a poor boy in Brazil, Argentina or Mexico dreams of becoming a good soccer player it is to get out of poverty. Shameful!
    Are you saying that it is the same about the NFL in North America or of the Cricket players in India or Pakistan, or it is just Brazil?
    Your arguments are very poor, in your own country there are more football teams than in any part of the world, what have you all produced? Please spare me, don't say Beckam....!!. Your national team's coach is Italian, your best goalies are Czech and Spanish, your best striker is African, can you call it English soccer?
    You wasted your time, and ours, in writing about Grafite, have you had many caipirinhas today? How in the world Dunga's team would need a 30 year old player, this is not the English team! Look at the Brazilian Sub-20 team in Egipt now.
    Don't write about Brazilian soccer, try writing about your monarchy or your tea party. We'll continue to enjoy our beer. I don't know if you noticed I am referring to your island "football" and not as soccer. It better resembles the Australian & American football with players knocking each other down, without a clue on how to advance, or how to avoid a red card or breaking the "striker" legs.
    Tim, don't feel bad if you do not understand Brazilian soccer, we do not understand yours either. For us, Brazilians the best description of what you call English soccer (in reality English/African/rest of Europe) is a pinpoint machine, with one long shot and then the ball starts bouncing back and forth in your mediocre players legs until it comes back to your own goal. ahahahahahaha, sorry, I couldn't contain myself!
    Enjoy your week in Rio, you are in the most beautiful city in the world and people there can tell you a little bit about real soccer and what the five stars in our national team jersey means.
    J. Carlos

  • Comment number 26.

    You can see the futsal skill in the way the great Brazilians play. They're able to move in the tightest of spaces, particularly around the goal. Futsal makes a difference.

  • Comment number 27.

    babaquice, I look forwards to seeing Joe Cole dancing around Maicon next summer.

  • Comment number 28.

    Population is definitely not the only factor that will help a nation become successful in football but Brazil having the 5th largest population in the world with over 191 million habitants is a major factor.

    The pool of potential world superstars is over three times greater than that of the UK's population of approximately 61 million. Which perhaps makes Italy's (population of 60 million) and Argentina's (population 40 million) feats in World football all the more impressive, as well as Germany's (population of 82 million).

    There are many other factors that need to be taken into account to explain Brazil's success but I think population would be the beginning point - cynical as that sounds. Another major factor in more recent times is that many young potential stars are given a chance to play for professional clubs, unlike in the major European Leagues where young home grown talent is muted by the influx of ready made talent from abroad.

    As for Mexico, population of 107 million and with football clearly being the number one sport in the country, other factors must be at hand......Coaching, facilities, footballing style...(style must be why Italy have bucked the population argument).

  • Comment number 29.

    I know Grafite is an absolutely quality player, but he's only really become good since 2007, and he's 30 now. This seems to be because he's playing alongside Edin Dzeko, another phenomenal striker, who netted 26 league goals last season, and the two play off each other very well.

    Sure, he deserves a Brazil call-up but for the national side I can't see him as more than a bench warmer. Although Luis Fabiano doesn't score as many at club level, he fits perfectly into the national side and is a proven international goalscorer, and with Kaka and Robinho alongside him, I don't think 2 out-and-out strikers could fit into the same team with that much attacking quality. Even if Grafite does get the call-up, he'd just be competing with Nilmar to replace Fabiano if he gets injured or is rested.

    Still, I hope Grafite gives the Man United defence a right handful! I would also like to see Dzeko shine as he has a big future in European football

  • Comment number 30.

    TrevReeves:

    and the Netherlands' population of around 17 million.

  • Comment number 31.

    Vaaaaaaaaaamos Grafite!!!

    Thanks Tim for highlighting the masterful goal-getter.

    WC selection: Luis Fabiano, Grafite, Ronaldo, Robinho....power and finesse!

  • Comment number 32.

    pidgeGUll:

    Sorry you have to win a WORLD Cup to be included in my list ;)

  • Comment number 33.

    JamesAutar - Your post needs a little work there fella,

    Hargreaves' rehabilitation is going well and SAF reckons he could be back in full training in 4 weeks, as quoted on an article on BBC Sport this morning! Also Hargreaves contribution to the United team when he has played has been significant - It can be no coincidence that in the season of Hargreaves arrival United went from a team that had only won one title since 2003 to domestic and european champiions - although I conceed that this also coincided with CR7's rise to prominance. In addition he wasn't actually injured when United bought him!

    With regards to your point about Giggs - The lads past 3 perfromances have again proven to all his critics that he is still one of the most important and influential players in the league and with that being the case, who cares how old he is?

    Nani & Anderson - Nani i'll admit needs work! sometimes excellent sometimes very poor - Anderson seems to be suffering from a bad year last year - his first season he was excellent and has shown signs of promise this season in a slightly more advanced role.

    MMsRedArmy - You make some interesting points however I don't feel like concentration on modified forms of the game is the answer - Yeas 7 and 5 a-side formats have advantages but they can inhibit some very important factors that are crucial to the game - Vision, Positioning, range of passing, Heading , defending and attacking set-peices etc etc ...

    The key is to use specific perameters to teach certain things and this can only be achieved by increasing the number of quality coaches and catering of all shapes sizes and abilities and concentrating on the form of the game that is most important - Otherwise we could quite easily end up in a situation similar to Cricket with the great limited overs vs test debate!

    Anyway - back to the point - I like Grafite as a player , I think in a modern game tailored towards pace and flair (and the pretection of the purveyors thereof!) Its a breath of fresh air to see a bullish, old fasioned centre forward flourish on the European stage, I agree with regards to Brasil, I too think his ship may have sailed, however that doesn't stop fans, both neutral and of Wolfsburg enjoying him, playing like, he's enjoying the game!

  • Comment number 34.

    I dont think Grafite scored goal of the season, i thought it was pretty lucky. If he replicates it against utd i might change my mind.

    Ronaldo vs porto was goal of the season...


    Anyway, Tim, you didnt mention Pato in that possible striker role for Brazil? And what has happened to Vagner Love? Another one utd will be facing!

    Thanks for the info on Marquinhos btw.

  • Comment number 35.

    ha! I'm not Dutch, just thought the likes of Cruyff, Van Basten, Gullit, and a consistent production line of players also deserves recognition, especially with a population of less than 10% of Brazil.

  • Comment number 36.

    pidgeGULL

    Fair game, I'll add Holland to the list. Less than 10% of the population of Brazil and playing great football at the same time. I guess that adds to the strong argument of football coaching and style and laughs in the face of good dancers making good footballers. The Dutch can't dance....can they?

  • Comment number 37.

    Great blog Tim. As you suggest, as much as I think Grafite is top quality, I really don't think he would add much to the Brazil squad. Just another position where they have an embarassment of riches.

    babaquice, get a grip. Poverty is rife in Brazil and Tim has offered that as ONE factor, one quite obvious factor. Talk about uber-offended. Believe it or not, people in all sorts of countries enjoy beer and grew up playing football daily with their friends, and their countries have never won the World Cup, never mind 5 times. So it's not as simple as that, genius!

  • Comment number 38.

    Hi Tim. I agree that Brazil obviously has a large population and that obviously gives them a bigger opportunity to produce talented Footballers. However, im convinced that Futsal has a major influence on why Brazil produce so many talented players, with players such as Ronaldinho and Roberto Carlos growing up from it. I actually stayed in Rio de Janeiro this summer and was amazed with the amount of little 5 aside/Futsal caged pitches there were in pretty much every other street. Despite Brazil being quite a poor country, kids no matter what there family income is, have the opportunity to go outside and play in a 5 aside/Futsal caged pitch. Going past Favela's I also saw these football cages. Furthermore, with my time in Rio, I also noticed the amount of Football schools there are. Particularly Flamengo and Fluminense schools. I was informed by people from Rio that these schools are for youngsters not just to practice football and have the possibility of being scouted, but to also learn academic education. With you living in Rio and knowing more, do you think these schools work (as in producing talent) and do you think our country (England) should be creating and investing in these type of schools? I think it’s a great idea.
    Kind Regards,
    Luke

  • Comment number 39.

    More than Dzeko, I think it is the incredible form of Misimovic playing behind the front 2 that is responsible for Grafite's goal tally.

  • Comment number 40.


    25 - sad experience has taught me that there is no point in trying to debate with brazilian far right nationalists.
    but for the record, let it be stated that the drive to getout of poverty is a wholly noble aim - thereisnowhere in the article that suggests otherwise - nor a single mention of motivational factors in other countries.
    Mr far right brazilian natioalist makes the mistake - as they all do, in the depths of their ignorance, of believing that i am in some way a spokesman for my nation - hence all the disparaging references to english football. Again, for the 1000th time, I am not a spokesman for anything apart from myself.

    and another thing - samba. Can be greatly overdone. Samba is not the preferred rythm in much of brazil, but football is a truly national phenomenon. so yes, dance culture may well be a part of it, but samba is far from being universal.

  • Comment number 41.

    Also, I never advocated Grafite for a call up - just said that he must have thought he was in with a shout. How many countries can leave out strikers who get hat-tricks in the champions league? That was the departure point for the rest of the atricle.

    As someone mentioned, there's also alexandre pato, though dunga's not too keen on him at the moment, and vagner love, who's back in brazil trying to raise his profile in the build up to the world cup.

    33 makes an interesting point that sall sided games are interesting, but they are not the be all and end all. Vision and range of passing are cited - i wonder if it's a co-incidence that in the age of mass futsal these two areas have declined in brazilian midfield play.

  • Comment number 42.

    38 - but the question that you're not really getting to grips with is the fact that brazil was producing so many great players before the explosion of futsal.
    That's why i think that, while acknowledging its contribution, the view that futsal is the great secret is simply ahistorical.

  • Comment number 43.

    There are several reasons why Brazil is best football nation. First of all Brazil as a nation is composed of different cultural backgrounds that includes Europeans, Africans, Asians, Indians etc. There different backgrounds have gifted these players with physical strength, Speed and technique. In addition to this, the Brazilian culture is extremely strong/ dominant and one can easily see cultural elements in the players and how they play together. Lastly at the foundation of Brazilian football contains excellent role models, players who set the stage at every level not just Brazil but the world. This foundation contains legends Pele and several more. All these factors and several more put together have created an amazing football nation. Brazilians truly believe they have the best culture in the world and this combined with their physical talents makes them amazing to watch.

  • Comment number 44.

    babaquice your comments are totally ignorant and unfair. Tim is respected football journalist not just in England but in Brazil. He follows alot of Brazilian football, including the serie a games for your national league.
    As for your comments about Grafite, this player should be given the opportunity to see what he can do for Brazil no matter if hes 30 or not. Brazil have already qualified for the world cup. Hes a brazilian thats in form and has scored a hatrick in the champions league and alex pato is not exactly in form with AC Milan right now.
    As for your ignorant comments about England, I was in Rio this summer, and saw many brazilians wearing England shirts, and Liverpool shirts with Gerrard on the back.
    As for your comments about the Premier League, you obviously know nothing about European football and how cosmopolitan it is now with different nationalitys playing in different countries, not just in England, but Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

  • Comment number 45.

    Manchester United versus Wolfsburg will be a very interesting game to watch. Wolfsburg have the potential of stunning Manchester United because they have players that play very well together. The likes of Misimovic, Grafite, Dzeko, Gentner and even Martins can create problems for Manchester United. On a different note I think a player like Grafite could really do well at Arsenal and or if Chelsea did not have Anelka, Grafite and Drogba would partner up really well.

  • Comment number 46.

    Hey PidgeGull, Joe who?

    Maicon is the best in the world, haven't you heard yet?

    And to all of you who became real soccer experts by "I have been in Rio this summer" .... kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

  • Comment number 47.

    good read again Tim;

    I simply think that the sheer fact that kids get to play here, they all play, every night the pitches are playing, you can drive past the parks in Flamengo at midnight or 0200 in the morning are full and they are still playing, today at the beach you will probably see better skill and fitness than you would see in 6 months scouting in Glasgows' local parks, everyone is playing, everyone is smiling and playing.

    You have the climate here to enable an outdoor social lifestyle which of course can be done without spending too much, its not with the government help either, some of the pitches and floodlighting are poor with little or no maintenance but everyone is still playing and smiling.

    One thing...with the schools having flexible hours some young kids can leave school at 1pm, or start at 1pm, this gives kids a life in my opinion, what do they like to do? play football, volleyball, futsal, all of which as a country they are excelling at...

    The country lives and breathes football, this weekend saw live TV games from England, Holland, Germany, Spain, Italy and of course their own leagues 1 & 2....when they are not playing they are watching with a choppy in hand....its a social thing, its a mindset...

    Just fantastic !!!!!!


    P.S why ohhhh why did the referee not postpone the Inter v Flamengo game yesterday.....so sad to see a water logged pitch spoil such a big game..



  • Comment number 48.

    Well, besides futsal, here's why Brazil have been great: the style of play links defence with midfielders with attackers. Simple, and at international level critical. This is why the Netherlands are also great. Not the banging about of league soccer.
    Also, the economics: it wasn't always the negative rural drain: the economic spurt of the 1940's brought the people of the hinterlands into the cities on a positive footing. Many had the "American dream"-like confidence in the future. Add in the athleticism and confidence of their African heritage, Brazil are to soccer as the US is to NFL. The 2010 world Cup? Brazil.

  • Comment number 49.

    babaquice, despite writing nearly a full blog himself has managed not to make a single worthwhile point. England is far from devoid of talented players, Rooney is as talented as any Brazilian striker in history and is one of the true greats around at the moment, while Defoe or Bent are just as effective as most of the current Brazil crop. Lampard and Gerrard are two of if not THE best central midfielders in the world. We have the best LB in the world without doubt in Ashley Cole, compared to someone like Maxwell who is just a winger played on the edge of a defence. Terry and Ferdinand vs Lucio and Juan, i know who I would want in my team any day and it isnt the latter. My point isnt that the English team is better than the Brazilian, we are far from it, but what we lack with regards to your team is not talent, we have that in abundance, it is balance. (And a goalkeeper haha)
    It is burningly obvious that the person who posted this post is making glaring generalizations that have no basis in fact, just in stereotype. Yet he remonstrates with Tim for supposedly doing the same thing?
    Anyway, I think one of the main reasons football is such a big deal in Brazil is that it brings people together in sheer enjoyment, they can forget the economics, they can forget the gang violence, they can forget any troubles be they farmers or businessmen and just get on with a game of football. You can see the same thing happening in some African Countries as the footballing infrastructure improves, just look at Ghana and the Cote d'Ivoire, ten years ago barely anyone knew them, it was all Nigeria and Cameroon, but as their players have become famous in europe, the profile has increased and more money is invested in football, meaning it gains popularity and more people play it, more people then realise it is a great thing and more players become good and make money. It can only be a good thing and Brazil are the progenitors of this kind of emerging football culture and reap the rewards.

  • Comment number 50.

    Can somebody tell me what Dunga sees in Lucas of Liverpool that he keeps selecting him? Lucas is not even a regular at Liverpool ? Surely there are better players than him..

  • Comment number 51.

    Once again a good blog Tim. IF you could choose a Brazil squad of 22 to experiment with who would you chose? Would you try out Ronaldo again or give Amauri a chance?

  • Comment number 52.

    @babaquice

    You need to provide proper reason with your arguments and not a load of nonsense. And its not soccer, it's football/futebol.

  • Comment number 53.

    mwanakatwe makes a good point - not the bit about African athleticism, that seems a bit shortsighted considering the country's history and diverse ethnic background - but how the style of play in Brazil and Holland links the team together, developing basic technical skills across the board. I remember several ludicrous coaching programmes I endured here in the UK that segregated groups of kids according to defence, midfield and attack (at young ages, I can understand this more as a player develops into a position) to teach a different range of skills to each, thankfully this practice has been in decline more recently.

  • Comment number 54.

    Rooney is as talented as any Brazilian striker in history and is one of the true greats around at the moment, while Defoe or Bent are just as effective as most of the current Brazil crop. Lampard and Gerrard are two of if not THE best central midfielders in the world. We have the best LB in the world without doubt in Ashley Cole, compared to someone like Maxwell who is just a winger played on the edge of a defence. Terry and Ferdinand vs Lucio and Juan, i know who I would want in my team any day and it isnt the latter

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    its all a matter of opinion. i believe the majority of your own compatriots would disagre with several points. for starters wasnt evra voted left back of the year? and rooney as good as any striker in brazilian history, cared to remember what the likes of romario,pele and ronaldo had achieved by his age?

    its irrelevant how much talent and potential you have if you cant provide it on the biggest stage and that the WC. however i would agree that your CBs as a pair are probably better, but I would take Lucio over any of them.

  • Comment number 55.

    Babaquice rather missed the point, didn't he?

  • Comment number 56.

    Tim,

    I think this time you went too far. You simply attributed all virtues of Brazilian football down to socio-economical as one of the main reasons. As a Brazilian I find this degrading.

    Poor children (and many people not so poor) dream about becoming financially independent so they can help their families. It is good to dream and you don´t have to pay taxes for that.

    But in Brazilian football specially, success is not guaranteed even if you are good, so it doens´t matter how much you want, you have to be outstanding as the competition is intense.

    I´ve been following your blog for a good couple of years now, but not because I love it, but because I want to compare our view with your more European view and I must say that we disagree alot.

    As you portray yourself as the South American football expert to your readers, it sometimes annoys me some of your comments.

    You are based in Rio de Janeiro, and it makes me think that one of the probable reasons is the popularity of Brazilian football worldwide. In the beginning your articles were friendlier to me as a Brazilian reader but in recent times, due to some complaints from fellow neighbours regarding the lack of football articles from their region, you started an anti-Brazilian campaign.

    It seems you are trying very hard to please everyone in all quarters and sometimes trying to be neutral in some big discussions and as a result I see a lack of personality in your articles, like your choice for Di Stefano as the best ever footballer, a player you did not watch playing.

    Some readers have rightly pointed already that, if poverty and geographical size were the main reasons for footballing success, why haven´t other countries achieved similar success?

    There are many explanations, but thinking logically, it is the love for the sport that makes the Brazilians different. Football is loved all over the world, but not with the same intensity.

    We had a team in the building I used to live in when I was 12 years old back in Sao Paulo, and we would play hard fought matches (and enjoying the competition) against all the other building teams, blocks, neighbour district, town, etc.

    If you worked for a bank in Brazil, let´s say Barclays for instance, the branch you worked for would surely have a team, who would play against the other branches like a league on its own, with a final championship match with trophies and everything.

    At primary, secondary, college and universities there is an organised league every year, with the teams from all classes and levels playing hard fought matches against each other. Interestingly, the University matches would feature the Law team against the Medicine team in a very high quality display. The final would always have the gymnasium packed with spectators from the school, showing their passionate support for their favourite team.

    And I must stress, these “finals” (and many other games at previous stages) are exciting quality matches where you would see all potentials “Ronaldos, Rivaldos and Romarios” on display, competing because they simply love the sport. I have lots of friends who could have played professionally and that is without exaggeration. In a way, a lot of the professional footballers are lucky because they have come through an inhumane competition.

    I would say in Brazil, only a few choose to pursue a career as a footballer, everyone knows how difficult it is and the Brazilian mothers say it has no future. Like in many other sports, only the ones who persevered succeed and thousands cannot get past the final hurdle.

    Football is present in all levels of Brazilian society. You don´t see many middle class footballers because they also face resistance from their families, why football when you can be something else? Kaka is from a middle class family, the legendary Socrates and Tostao are doctors themselves, so why do we need to keep mystifying? I am glad our poor children have the opportunity to pursue fortune in the most democratic sport in the world, but they face competition from everywhere.

    We are a country of passionate footballers, the reason we expect our teams to do well in every competition.

    I am not going to deny Tim, that you have a knowledge about Brazilian and South America football in general, but despite you lived in Brazil for a good number of years you haven´t yet discovered the soul of Brazilian football. You probably need to mix with the poor to understand that, out of your bubble.

  • Comment number 57.

    Tim,

    I think this time you went too far. You simply attributed all virtues of Brazilian football down to socio-economical as one of the main reasons. As a Brazilian I find this degrading.

    Poor children (and many people not so poor) dream about becoming financially independent so they can help their families. It is good to dream and you don´t have to pay taxes for that.

    But in Brazilian football specially, success is not guaranteed even if you are good, so it doens´t matter how much you want, you have to be outstanding as the competition is intense.

    I´ve been following your blog for a good couple of years now, but not because I love it, but because I want to compare our view with your more European view and I must say that we disagree alot.

    As you portray yourself as the South American football expert to your readers, it sometimes annoys me some of your comments.

    You are based in Rio de Janeiro, and it makes me think that one of the probable reasons is the popularity of Brazilian football worldwide. In the beginning your articles were friendlier to me as a Brazilian reader but in recent times, due to some complaints from fellow neighbours regarding the lack of football articles from their region, you started an anti-Brazilian campaign.

    It seems you are trying very hard to please everyone in all quarters and sometimes trying to be neutral in some big discussions and as a result I see a lack of personality in your articles, like your choice for Di Stefano as the best ever footballer, a player you did not watch playing.

    Some readers have rightly pointed already that, if poverty and geographical size were the main reasons for footballing success, why haven´t other countries achieved similar success?

    There are many explanations, but thinking logically, it is the love for the sport that makes the Brazilians different. Football is loved all over the world, but not with the same intensity.

    We had a team in the building I used to live in when I was 12 years old back in Sao Paulo, and we would play hard fought matches (and enjoying the competition) against all the other building teams, blocks, neighbour district, town, etc.

    If you worked for a bank in Brazil, let´s say Barclays for instance, the branch you worked for would surely have a team, who would play against the other branches like a league on its own, with a final championship match with trophies and everything.

    At primary, secondary, college and universities there is an organised league every year, with the teams from all classes and levels playing hard fought matches against each other. Interestingly, the University matches would feature the Law team against the Medicine team in a very high quality display. The final would always have the gymnasium packed with spectators from the school, showing their passionate support for their favourite team.

    And I must stress, these “finals” (and many other games at previous stages) are exciting quality matches where you would see all potentials “Ronaldos, Rivaldos and Romarios” on display, competing because they simply love the sport. I have lots of friends who could have played professionally and that is without exaggeration. In a way, a lot of the professional footballers are lucky because they have come through an inhumane competition.

    I would say in Brazil, only a few choose to pursue a career as a footballer, everyone knows how difficult it is and the Brazilian mothers say it has no future. Like in many other sports, only the ones who persevered succeed and thousands cannot get past the final hurdle.

    Football is present in all levels of Brazilian society. You don´t see many middle class footballers because they also face resistance from their families, why football when you can be something else? Kaka is from a middle class family, the legendary Socrates and Tostao are doctors themselves, so why do we need to keep mystifying? I am glad our poor children have the opportunity to pursue fortune in the most democratic sport in the world, but they face competition from everywhere.

    We are a country of passionate footballers, the reason we expect our teams to do well in every competition.

    I am not going to deny Tim, that you have a knowledge about Brazilian and South America football in general, but despite you lived in Brazil for a good number of years you haven´t yet discovered the soul of Brazilian football. You probably need to mix with the poor to understand that, out of your bubble.

  • Comment number 58.

    Hello Tim,

    Interesting article as aways! As a Brazilian (living in London now), from the outskirts of Sao Paulo (and not from the beautiful beaches of Rio), we grew up eating, drinking and dreaming football, it is indeed part of our culture and our psyche. I think you do strike a valid point on the economical factor, i have a nephew who lives in Capao Redondo, he's only 12 and he dreams of being a Sao Paulo player, in his case and for many of his friends (in the local team) football is a dream and a mean of improving their lives. With the low quality of the states schools in lots of poorer areas of urban/rural Brazil, it is difficult for kids to get a half decent education and compete with the kids of the well off families. Football has indeed become a factor in improve their lives (and their families too).
    And Tim, please don't waste your time (in replying) with a 'mala' like babaquice, i can picture the type of person he is, no comments....

    cheers



  • Comment number 59.

    Anybody can tell me the merits of Lucas of Liverpool in the Brazil squad?

  • Comment number 60.

    Jimmyhayers

    Pelase stop, I haven't laughed so hard in years!!! Are we going back to the early days of Rooney's career when he was being comapred to Pele, Maradona and Cruyff? As for Gerrard and Lampard being the best CMs in the world; I believe one of them plays on the left for England because he couldn't 'co-exist' with other.

    Kaka-Melo-Gilberto is about as good as it gets, my friend. Even Xavi & Iniesta are streets ahead of you're precious centre-mids.

    As for CBs: Lucio-Juan are stronger than Ferdinand + the vastly overrated Terry. Heck, Brazil have Luisao, Thiago Silva and Alex in reserve.

    Brazil for 2010.

  • Comment number 61.

    what on earth is the "big 3" daniel pacheco? (from tim's postbag question #1) all my life i've heard about the "big 4" leagues, never the big 3?? is this seen differently in s america?

  • Comment number 62.

    Hi Tim
    I Think youve got it wrong this time. Most brazilian states have never produced outstanding players. The great majority ( Garrincha, Nilton Santos, Zizinho, Jair Rosa Pinto, Didi, Leonidas, Domingos and Ademir da Guia, Jairzinho, Gerson, Carlos Alberto, Zico, Romario, Ronaldo, etc ) were born in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The next most fertile ground for breeding footballers is Minas Gerais where Pele, Tostão, Reinaldo, Cerezo were born. The only true great star of brazilian football to be born in São Paulo was Rivelino. I wouldnt say Roberto Carlos was top class.
    Cheers

  • Comment number 63.

    #22: You are right, among other things because samba isn't the most popular type of music in the entire country, just like in the US, where country music is more popular in some places, hip-hop in others, rock in others, etc.

    I would also add that samba is more popular in general with older people, teenagers usually prefer other styles, from American rock and rap to the (awful) Brazilian funk.

    As for Grafite, is sad to see him not being called when a player so inconsistent and prone to stupidity like Diego Tardelli (who last year scored ZERO goals in the Brazilian league, and hard FOUR red cards) gets a call up for a few decent games, and Robinho pretends to play football.

    And for Ronaldo, sorry, Tim, but you can't possibly be serious in using the goal he scored Sunday as evidence, simply because it was pretty much an own goal, if he hadn't touched the ball, it would have still gone in.

  • Comment number 64.

    MILAN FAN, as much as I love Brazil and my girl being Brazilian, I wouldnt quite say Kaka-Melo-Gilberto is as good as it gets. I think most people will argue that Xavi and Iniesta are the best combination in midfield in the world. Individually, Gerrard is amoungst I dont think Gilberto Silva would get in any top clubs team now, thats why he plays for greek side Olympiacos.
    As for you comments about the English defence, if you notice how Man United have Ferdinand, and Chelsea have Terry, and the English clubs get to the later stages of the Champions League, then its because of these sort of players in defence. You cant possibly compare Thiago Silva to Ferdinand and Terry. As much as he is a talent and did very well at Fluminense, he has a long way to go. If Luisao was that good he wouldnt be playing for Benfica. I agree, Lucio is definatly and great centre back though. The thing about England, we have some of the best players in the world individually, but the the players playing together needs to improve, which it is, after we have won all our world cup qualifiers, and scoring the most goals in Europe

  • Comment number 65.

    babaquice, i cant even begin to say how right you are. You hit the nail in the head with that comment. I couldnt have said it any better my self. I am a huge fan of brazilian football, and for that matter any football apart from english. You are completely right in suggesting that english football is violent. I am armenian(in east europe) and i am generally a supporter of Brazil and Germany when it comes to world cups. Reason being i like to watch them play. People that class germany as average are really mistaken. They play with a more latin style now, not just mentality. And anyway they have produced brilliant players in the past like muller,rummenigge,beckenbauer,voller,klinsmann,matthaus and the list goes on... they also have a few world class players at the moment. As with brazil...pele, rivelino, ronaldo, garrincha, cafu, r.carlos....just to name a few. However england has never produced a player worth mentioning in the same breathe as these players. And at least they could have better tactics rather than just punting it all day and hoping for mistakes. And why the hell do they have an italian manager...england just ruin the sport. Ps. players like rooney are a waste of time.

  • Comment number 66.

    MILAN FAN, as much as I love Brazil and my girl being Brazilian, I wouldnt quite say Kaka-Melo-Gilberto is as good as it gets. I think most people will argue that Xavi and Iniesta are the best combination in midfield in the world. Individually, Gerrard is amoungst midfielders in the world, if not the best, ask Kaka, he is being quoted in many interviews saying Gerrard is the best. Fernando Torres also says Gerrard is the best players hes ever played with, and that includes the Spanish players he plays with. I dont think Gilberto Silva would get in any top clubs team now, thats why he plays for greek side Olympiacos.
    As for you comments about the English defence, if you notice how Man United have Ferdinand, and Chelsea have Terry, and the English clubs get to the later stages of the Champions League, then its because of these sort of players in defence. You cant possibly compare Thiago Silva to Ferdinand and Terry. As much as he is a talent and did very well at Fluminense, he has a long way to go. If Luisao was that good he wouldnt be playing for Benfica. I agree, Lucio is definatly and great centre back though. The thing about England, we have some of the best players in the world individually, but the the players playing together needs to improve, which it is, after we have won all our world cup qualifiers, and scoring the most goals in Europe

  • Comment number 67.

    I love when people defend Ronaldo to come back to the Selecao like if it was a right to him. No, he's not fit, in fact I don't remember seeing him as fat as he is. He's been scoring goals? Yes, a few! But his last goal was actually an own goal by the Sao Paulo defense, he was just lucky to be in the right place when nobody wanted to touch the ball. He's fantastic runs are also over, he couldn't outpace Richarlyson, a fairly slow player, yesterday. That's ok to say that he still has his touch, dribbling skills and class. But that's enough? I wouldn't call him.

    And then you have a physical player in the form of Grafite, only two years younger, same play style as Luis Fabiano(so you're not changing ways), and people argue that he shouldn't be called to get Ronaldo instead? Oh God. I'd give him an opportunity. Amauri too, but he doesn't want to commit to Brazil if not given a commitment, which is ridiculous, a player can't have a commitment from Dunga, no player is bigger than Selecao.

    The lack of professionalism of Brazil league also irritates me. Atletico Mineiro doing well for the first time in 10 years and we will lack our best player(and his Colombian sub, Renteria) for two games, one against our rivals Cruzeiro. Why not a pause?

  • Comment number 68.

    @babaquice

    It is clear that you speak English fairly well but not fluently, which is why you have clearly misunderstood what Tim Vickery was saying in his blog.

    Your decision to go on some nationalistic and xenophobic rant is a question of character - something you clearly lack.

    You foolishly claim that somehow Vickery has insulted your great nation.

    The irony is that in your confused and poorly contrived description and defence of the Brazilian nation and its football, you portray Brazilians as a bunch of juvenile, giggling, samba dancing, carnival-going, beach-dwelling, illiterate layabouts.

    Shameful!

  • Comment number 69.

    Tim - good read again! I suspect that some of the points you make about economic conditions (a way out of poverty etc) historical legacy, only mass sport in a country of 190m, etc all help to explain Brazil's pre-eminance in producing great players. However two points I would make; Brazil definitely finds ways to attract more talented youngsters into the game than we do - perhaps too many other options now available to a gifted youngster in the UK? Hence in terms of the 'nature v nurture' arguement; a naturally gifted player can, with proper 'nurturing', become world class, but the reverse is not true, no matter how much 'nuturing' (and assuming its all good stuff!) you will not get a world class result if the natural talent is not there, journeyman levels at best! There used to be an old adage about " If some one is good enough, they are old enough" - this ought to apply to size as well, if good enough they are big enough - but sadley as is pointed out by other posts, in the earlier years physical 'stats' are all consuming for many coaches/clubs.

  • Comment number 70.

    56 - i need to get out of my bubble and mix with the poor!
    Well, some things are a matter of opinion and we can disagree - that´s fine.
    Other questions are a matter of fact. How dare you write this without knowing my situation.
    I sustain a family here, my girlfriend and her two daughters, now young adults, but kids when i took them on. My girlfriend grew up in a suburb of rio without electricity when she was a kid. The combined income of the 3 of them is less than the mimumum salary. How dare you have the arrogance and ignorance to say i spend my life in a bubble.

  • Comment number 71.

    62 - ademir, vava, rivaldo from the north east.
    falcao from the south - lucio was even born in brasilia.
    there were more from rio in the old days because the country was more centralized. now they come from all over.

  • Comment number 72.

    61 - I think daniel pacheco´s big 3 is obvious - england, spain, italy.

  • Comment number 73.

    67 - I´ll be very surprised if ronaldo gets a call up, whether he deserves one or not. Dunga has his group, it has served him well and so it's understandable if he feels no need to rock the boat. So injuries are the big hope for those on the outside.

  • Comment number 74.

    66 - Kaka-Melo-Gilberto gets points for the combination. Tatically is just better than two players who just can't co-exist. Get Lampard and Gerrard to work well together(I still think both of them are overrated but that's just my personal opinion) and it'll be a fantastic partnership, just like Spain(Barcelona) did with Xavi and Iniesta but can't get Fabregas to work with them.

    Lucio and Juan is a better partnership than Terry and Ferdinand. Terry's a great leader, a great character and that's why he is obviously important for England. So is Lucio, who's stronger, faster, braver.

    Juan is as good as Ferdinand but Roma is not as good as Man Utd.

    Also comes to my mind the way Brazilians and English look to their national squads. While brazilians tend to perform better for the Selecao, english people tend to perform better for clubs. Even when retiring from the national squad the argument is different, Juninho Pernambucano argued that the Selecao need renewing and he wouldn't play anymore to avoid it not happening, while Scholes couldn't be bothered to play anymore.

  • Comment number 75.

    56 - i'm not sure you warrant another reply after your 'bubble' nonsense, but that stupidity aside there could be grounds for a debate.

    Trouble is, it seems that you've taken the route of nationalism and been offended by the fact that i wrote that poverty is a big driving force.
    Firstly, I made it quite clear that there were others - i never said, as you allege, that socio-economic factors were the only ones. as it happens, i feel that the most important is the role model effect - trying to emulate the previous generation. But i'm well aware of the importnce of economic factors as a direct result of not living in a bubble - of going and talking to the kids and seeing what's in their mind.

  • Comment number 76.

    Tim, I think the majority of people who read your blog appreciate that it is your own educated view on what you've seen and experienced living in Brazil.

    That's what gives it weight, and the fact that you're not part of the "football journalism fraternity" here in England.

    But unfortunately 606 and the football blogs tend to attract many undesirable who will lay accusations at your door, while only revealing their own ignorance and sense of self-importance.

    I think you would be better off posting replies directly to those people who have engaged with your blog on a "football educational" level.

    Of course, you'll want to responde to fools who make wild accusations about your background or familial situation. But people who make such comments are not capabable of taking on board your well-measured responses.

  • Comment number 77.

    Given the advantages Brazil has in soccer, world-wide, it would be helpful (though less TV revenue earning) if FIFA could make Brazil's World Cup tournaments more challenging; every WC they seem to get weak streams to the semis. What FIFA call "knock-out" stages should be called "Set-up" stages, maybe the odd game against Netherlands or France. Handicapping in tournaments, anyone? That said, 2010 is a cake-walk for the selecao their's to lose.

  • Comment number 78.

    Mr Vickery,

    Just because I said you lived in a bubble, you don´t need to describe how you support your girlfriend and daughters, it is not my business.

    Back to football, you can visit a favela and miss the real deal as in my opinion you definitely are. This is because you express your views as an expert authority and in the above case almost patronising. It is hard for me to take such an unfortunate comment as you did in this article, with such a generalisation and for the BBC!

    It clearly shows to me that you live in a bubble. You may be living in Brazil for a good number of years, but your article shows lack of understanding with regards to Brazilian culture, especially when you mix football with politics, it all sounds too cliché.

    I once read in an American newspaper that the reason the Brazilians are so good at football was because we are “very savage”. Together with your comment, I have the 2 most outrageous comments ever!

    As a football blog, let´s keep to football!

  • Comment number 79.

    #77 - 'every WC they seem to get weak streams to the semis'. Not sure you are right here mate. The last WC we lost in QFs against a good French side. In 2002, we played Belgium in 2nd round (we had a hard time against them), then England in the QF (not an easy opposition), a strong Turkey side (twice) in group and semis, and the final against Germany...So not sure your comment is valid here! The way i see, most teams that do qualify for a WC (with a few exceptions)are not pushovers, therefore every 'big' team will have to play to their best to get to semis and beyond. I think Brasil is currently very strong, with Spain they are the main favourites. Though it'd be nice to see an Africa nation to win it.

  • Comment number 80.

    Back to the topic! ok, he may be a late-bloomer, and i'm happy for his success, but Grafite proves a point- a mature player may not be needed at the WC level, but can put bums-on-seats at the Champions League level. see also Hamburg's Ze Roberto.

  • Comment number 81.

    78 - i never mentioed politics, and i certainly didn't say anything about savage.
    you have now redefined 'living in a bubble' - it now seems to mean being a foreigner in brazil with a different opinion from your own.
    i tried to debate with you, but i'm going to be taking the excellent advice from poster 76.

  • Comment number 82.

    One more thing, yes I have taken this on the nationalistic side very much. But let´s be honest, who wouldn´t dream about making a living doing what we love and earning lots of money for that! Didn´t you as a kid dream about what you wanted to be in adult life? What´s wrong about dreaming? What´s wrong about dreaming of being a footballer, to emulate your heros?

    But then, you bring this into the equation, “one” of the main reasons Brazil produces excellent footballers?

    I simply fail to understand that!

    There are many reasons we produce good footballers, but you are missing it with your stereotyped view!

  • Comment number 83.

    You have defined bubble correctly - You are a foreigner with a foreigner view of Brazilian football (despite living in Brazil for all those years). Anyone can do this without having to go all the way there.

  • Comment number 84.

    Tim, one of the unwritten laws of internet is that every intelligent discussion will always have a troll trying to destroy it. Don't bother with those.

    And about Grafite again, I remember that around 2005 he was being very praised at SPFC and as a potential candidate for the fourth attacking spot for the WC 06 (Ronaldo, Adriano and Robinho), and even made one cap, scoring a goal, but later got injured and was out for 8 or 9 months. Later on, he moved to a small French club and was mostly forgotten until joining Wolfsburg.

  • Comment number 85.

    C'mon old boys .... just confess, you invented it and lost the recipe !!!! But don't worry, we re-invented it and we will teach you again (for a few euros)... ok fellas, I am ignorant and I bow to your majestic wisdom.

    Tim, we're talking about real "futebol" and you come back with labels (far right nationalist?) Gime a break!

    Sorry, if I hurt your British ego, I know that it is to hard for you to accept that several third world countries are far better than you. My "far right nationalist mind" understands.

    I am Proud to be a Brazilian, a great nation of people that deserves respect from, especially, those who live among us,even from you.

    Our accomplishments in any field are because of who we are, a people who know how to win over adversity with grace and contagious joy, not a desperate people trying to learn some kind of sport to get out of misery.
    That is why Brazilian players are greatly admired all over the world, we play with a smile, with respect for any adversary.

    Mr. Vickery, I changed my mind, please keep writing. It looks like you have to keep entertaining some "very intelligent" and "knowlegeable" good old boys on the other side of the Atlantic.

    In the meantime, keeping firing in the direction of those who disagree with you, as "far right nationalists", "communists" and the likes. It may help you keep your job and maintain your island friends greatly enlighted. Peace!

  • Comment number 86.

    there you go - i thought this piece was extremely positive about Brazil and the only backlash i was going to get was from futsal supporters.

    expect the unexpected!

  • Comment number 87.

    Great blog as always Tim.

    I think Grafite is a great player; he's a big lad, he's got pace, power, excellent close control and bags plenty of goals. Not only this but he has a great partnership with Edin Dzeko at Wolfsburg. If they both turn up on form against Man U then I'm sure it will be a great game. Obviously, as Brazil manager, Dunga is going to have really tough decisions regarding players, considering the wealth of talent produced by the nation. I'd personally like to see him at the World Cup, but I'm not Brazil manager, so whatever!

    How do you pronounce his name? I've heard all manner of ways, from "Grafitti" to "Grafeetch", just wondering if you could fill us in on the score there.

    I'm 18 and I come from Maryhill in Glasgow. When I was a wee guy we used to knock a ball about the street outside. We couldn't use the safety of the back-court because neighbours complained to the housing association and the police that we were breaching the peace. There were a set of blaes pitches round the corner, but local gangs often used them for violent confrontation, as well as the local park. There were some decent facilities for five-, seven- and eleven-a-side football at the Firhill complex nearby but you had to rent them out and we didn't have enough money for that. I've heard similar sorts of stories from friends around Glasgow.

    It has to be more than a feeling which is responsible for Brazil's success. Obviously, the difficulties which many young people in Brazil face were and are far worse than anything I've ever had to face but I'm presuming there is the investment required at the grassroots level that just isn't here in Scotland. Am I correct?

  • Comment number 88.

    85 - I, like you, I'm also proud of being a Brazilian, but by no means I ever felt offended by Tim Vickery writings.

    I don't think that "stereotypes" comes from his writings, I've read lot's of things that sounds like stereotypes, like 5estrelas example, an american journal saying that we're good because "We're very savage". That's ridiculous. Also your claim that the Brazilian players "play with a smile and respect for any opponent", wrong. We do have bad players, like that defender from Valladolid(I think) that tried to break Messi legs and punched Pique.

    Sometimes children feel they can speak what they think about their mother, but can't accept someone to say the same, and that's what happened with 5estrelas, he can't read the obvious truth that most players come from a poor background, driven by the opportunity to earn money with something they love and know what to do. It's not always the case, but raw truth, it is most times.

  • Comment number 89.

    one final time i will take a dip in the sea of stupidity and attempt to clarify a position against nationalist idiocy.

    occasionally i get brazilians saying that i look on their football with a 'gringo perspective.'

    There is no such thing. The widespread use in brazil of the word 'gringo' attempts to suggest otherwise, but the world does not in fact duivide into two camps - brazilian and foreign. there are 200 nations and all kinds of perspectives - and in forming those perspectives, nationality is only one of the variables.

    i'll give you an example. let's say that i have an english perspective. now, because i don't live in a bubble here i don't mix with the english community. one time a bit down the coast i came across an english bloke who had been living in brazil for years. he worked in the financial markets, and his reason for moving to brazil in the 70s was that, in his view, the english working class were earning too much money.
    i guarantee that my perspective is very different from his. indeed i would not be at all sorry if a mugging or two had not caused him to rethink his position on wealth distribution.

    most of the positions i take on brazilian football have at one point or other also been espoused by local journalists - more are even starting to come round to the view that the state championships should be scrapped. what does that make them - closet gringos?

    the paradigm brazilian/gringo is a false one. there are lots of different possible perspectives, both inside and outside the country.

  • Comment number 90.

    Mr. Vickery ... Hi,it is me again!

    On 81 you wrote "I never mentioned politics".

    Where does the term "far right nationalist" come from?

    Muito obrigado!

  • Comment number 91.

    Re #25 and all the other mindless criticisms that have followed - Ian Plenderleith wrote a great comment in When Saturday Comes recently (about this very blog, in fact):

    "Like a Def Leppard fan accidentally stumbling into a performance of a Mozart piano concerto, it's a given law of internet writing that no matter how well-written the piece, someone somewhere will eventually pipe up to denounce it as a pile of tripe."

  • Comment number 92.

    85# babaquice, please stop being a babaca! If you can't handle a discussion don't join the chat. It seems to me that some Brazilians want to have a monopoly on any Brazilian matter that is discussed by non-Brazilians, i.e. futebol, politics and music...and from experience they usually are the well off bunch of arrogant either from the extreme right or left. This is very irritant and embarrassing for a Brazilian (myself)!

    This is a football discussion room, please leave your pride at home...you can either agree or disagree with comments, but do not patronise...

    I have been reading Tim's articles for a number of years, i don't always agree, but the guy knows his stuff.... I bet the likes of babaquice and 5estrelas never put foot in a football stadium.... This pride and cheap nationalism is sickening.....

  • Comment number 93.

    I don't see what's to get worked up about. It's a different view from the bloggers perspective, that's all.

  • Comment number 94.

    @90 I think he meant he never mentioned politics on the article... So need to escalate it to that level as seen on some of our comments in the first place.

  • Comment number 95.

    *So no need - is what I meant on #94

  • Comment number 96.

    spfp ....

    If you want to know, "babaquice" was in honor of Tim's blog and babacas like yourself.
    Let us keep it about "futebol", not politics, don't come up with expressions like extreme right or left. That's cheap.

    I'm sorry you are so "embarassed" and "sickened", I hope you'll come around soon.

  • Comment number 97.

    96# - As it happens the nick suits you well.

  • Comment number 98.


    "Certain you fail to address the important issue - The type of footballers Brasil produce.

    Why is it Brasil create so many flair players and highly skilled players in all positions? There are other countries with large populations that don't produce the quality of player of Brasil, and, although we have a much smaller population, in England we produce very good players, but few flair players or creative players. Why?

    I think this is addresses it the article; the idea of the past brazilian teams and youngsters trying to emulate the skills of their hero's.

    If you look at the defining image of English football it is Terry Butcher with a bloody bandage around his head. This image has foregrounded the attribute of courage, determination and bravery.

    Compare this to Argentina, who have similar youth development problems to England i.e 11 year olds playing on fill sized pitches, and there idol is Maradona. Every kid who goes out to play wants to emulate Maradona.

    Brazil have an array of skillful players in their history for kids to want to emulate and the national team have an identity in flair. I believe Dunga is under some pressure because his football isn't skillful enough.

  • Comment number 99.

    of course i did guess that pacheco left off the bundesliga from the big 4, but i didn't want to assume. i would think that maybe in s america the other leagues of the big 4 seem more glamorous due to cultural differences?? obviously the most money is in the first two, but the bundesliga is such a great league and i would hope that players would look forward that kind of possibility w/out stereotypes getting in the way. certainly throughout history german soccer has provided many examples for s americans to see the quality...

  • Comment number 100.

    Tim
    I read your blog every week and have done for years now as well as following your radio work. Fascinating stuff. But please please please try harder to ignore the nationalists and their ill-thought out criticisms! I can appreciate its more than a little annoying to face such criticism when you are just a guy expressing an opinion. But there's 1000s of regular devoted readers who ignore the nationalist bile and occasionally post wanting to debate the issues - know that the silent majority is behind you and save your replies for them!
    Cheers
    Adam

 

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