BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery
« Previous | Main | Next »

Brazil refine tactics for World Cup

Post categories:

Tim Vickery | 07:41 UK time, Monday, 16 November 2009

You had to feel sorry for those fringe England players pushing their claims for a World Cup squad place against Brazil. There were few chances to shine and they were outgunned individually and collectively.

Unsurprisingly England's under-strength line-up looked like a collection of players. Brazil, meanwhile, looked like a team - and for this, plenty of credit has to go to Dunga.

I've been critical of Brazil's coach in the past and doubtless will be again in the future. For what it's worth, my preference would be for more football and a better range of passing from the central midfield duo.

But pleasing me, or those who think along similar lines, is not going to be high up on Dunga's list of priorities. He goes about things his way, and, with no previous coaching experience, what stands out is the clarity of his concepts. His team consistently seem to have a clear idea of what they are trying to achieve.

Saturday's masterstroke was for striker Luis Fabiano to drop deep and combine with Kaka. Not only did this help set up the play, it also sucked in the England team - so when the ball was then pinged over for Nilmar to cut across from the left, the lack of pace in the right side of England's defence was exposed. The ploy created a stream of chances and won the game.

Dunga (left) with England coach Fabio CapelloThe tactics employed by Dunga (left) in Doha gave opposite number Fabio Capello plenty to think about

It was a welcome victory for Brazil because they have been having problems with exactly this type of encounter - when they are superior to the opposition. A full-strength England would have given them more to worry about but might also have been more ambitious and left themselves open.

Away to Uruguay in qualification, for example, Brazil lost the corner count 15-2 but they took their opponents apart on the break to win 4-0. That devastating counter-attack was also working well in Argentina, where they won 3-1 but four times during the campaign they were held 0-0 at home.

Against Argentina it might be seen as normal - against Colombia less so, Venezuela even less and Bolivia is off the scale. In nine away games it was the only time Bolivia avoided defeat, and Brazil's lone clear chance came in injury time.

This is a problem because next year in South Africa, in the group phase at least, opponents are likely to sit back, throw two compact lines of four across the pitch and make sure they do not play into the hands of the Brazilian counter-attack.

Dunga, then, has been looking for solutions. The first was to include a mixed midfielder on the right - on Saturday it was Elano, but Ramires and Daniel Alves are also in contention. This is partly aimed at freeing Maicon to burst forward from right-back with his extraordinary power.

The diagonal pass out to Nilmar on the other flank now gives them an impressive option on the left - and there is balance through the middle as well. Gilberto Silva may not make much of an attacking contribution, but he can hold the fort while Lucio charges up from centre-back.

On an individual basis it was the other centre back who was the success story of Saturday afternoon. Thiago Silva's heart must have sunk when he was not included in the original squad but injuries forced a call up for the classy Milan defender, who showed that he is a serious contender to challenge the injury-prone Juan for a place in South Africa.

Thiago Silva challenges Peter CrouchThiago Silva staked a claim for a regular place with an impressive display in Brazil's defence

The centre-back on the left side of the field looks like being a key position because this is the flank where Brazil are most vulnerable. There are two problems, one of personnel, the other of formation.

Brazil used six left-backs in qualification and none of them looked entirely convincing. Liverpool's Fabio Aurelio would have had a great chance to push his claims, but was forced out by yet another injury so on Saturday, it was the turn of Michel Bastos to make his debut. Because he operates in midfield for Lyon, some of the English press seem to think that he was being played out of position. Not so. He is originally a left-back, and was picked in this squad as a left-back. The evidence is, though, that his defensive skills are not good enough.

Whoever plays there is likely to have a hard time. The Brazilian midfield is strongly titled towards the right - a consequence of that option to let Maicon steam forward from full back. The left-back is isolated, with less cover behind him if he chooses to push up.

Now that the ball out to Nilmar (or Robinho) high up on the left has been added to the repertoire, maybe Dunga will seek to balance it out with a defensive full-back on that flank. Shaun Wright-Phillips gave Michel Bastos some awkward moments and an opponent with more collective understanding could have caused him more problems.

The left-back position, then, is something Dunga will have to think about. He's running in to that wonderful Brazilian expression - organising a team is like having a small blanket on a cold night. Cover your feet and your neck freezes, pull it over your neck and your feet get cold.

For the moment, though, Brazil's coach is entitled to sleep soundly. Against England his team showed talent and balance, and a clear idea of what they were aiming to do. The talent comes from the players. The rest is Dunga's department.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Other questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

Q) How do you think Chile will fare at the World Cup?
Nick Ford

A) The right decision was made, but it would have been interesting to see them in action away to Germany over the weekend. Chile want to attack, with two wingers and a centre forward. It will be fascinating next year to see if they can do it against physically stronger teams - and whether they can defend in the air as well. Even if it doesn't go well for them, I think they'll be an asset to the World Cup - they will certainly not be one of those teams who clog up the tournament, with 11 players hanging off their own crossbar.

Q) I'm sad about the demise of Brazil post-1982/6. I never thought that I would say this, but I hope that Brazil are soundly beaten in this World Cup as otherwise the sort of stuff that Dunga thinks is acceptable will be perpetuated for another generation.
Mushtaq Rahman

A) I'm sure you'll be disappointed with the column, as I've given Dunga a lot of praise. I do, in fact, have a lot of sympathy for your viewpoint. I'm a purist in this sense, I was brought up to appreciate the kind of football where the players with the most imaginative range of passing featured in central midfield, making the game flow - like Toninho Cerezo and Falcao in 82. I would love to see more of that, especially from Brazil.

Imagine how the game would have developed if Brazil had won in 82. But, on the other hand, while we may talk about the 'demise' of Brazil since then, the trophy cabinet tells a different story. The '94 win ushered in a new period of success. As I mentioned last week, I think there are signs that this model, of closing down central midfield with giants, is showing its age. - and a failure in South Africa next year could well lead to a rethink, which wouldn't be a bad thing.

But when I judge Dunga's work, I can't do that solely by criteria that I bring to the table. His aim is to win matches and titles. He's been doing that, so by his own standards he is successful - though the definitive judgement will come next year.

I do, though, think it's healthy that a Brazil fan such as yourself is not happy just to win. The appeal of football is about much more than what you do - it's also about how you do it. If football was just numbers it would be bingo.


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Tim, I love reading your articles!

    How impressive do you think Brazil really were? They weren't that understrength (missing Juan and Robinho and maybe a left back) while England basically had Rooney and Barry from a preferable first team. It could be argued it was more of a third team than a second string!

    As a welshman I have to say I was impressed by the way Capello's men made Brazil look quite average at times, and had the back four not had moments where they looked like they'd never even played football, let alone played together, they perhaps could have caused an upset.

    What was the reaction in Brazil?

  • Comment number 2.

    I think Dunga gets a lot of unfair criticism.. Take a look at his half his team who play for clubs in Europe and in the Champions League... They are all playing an adaptable 4-5-1 formation (3 up front when attacking and 5 in midfield when defending)

    This means a lot of his players will be used to this system at club level and effectively will be more comfortable with it.. It's not exactly a Dunga invention to have 2 holding midfielders..

  • Comment number 3.

    Your probably right that it was no suprise England were outgunned due to players being absent but that is no excuse for having players in a England shirt who dont do the basics well. There were four or five players on the pitch for England who have a average first touch and dont seem to understand how to pass a ball with the correct weight on the pass. It seems to me if a player has pace and power thats enough to break into the England squad and the fact that they are average footballers comes second. I thought both Upson and Lesscott done ok with there defending but if they are not going sideways or backwards they just punt the ball long into the channels, to be fair Ferdinand and Terry dont do much different, i cant really see a England centreback joining in attacks and smashing one in from thirty yards. Gareth Barry will probably start the World Cup here is one very average footballer who actually looked overweight on saturday. Joe Cole imo could be the one player who makes a big difference as he dont waste possesion and him added to the absent players and Englands chances improve greatly. If England play with either Walcott, Lennon, Wright Phillips or Young i can see long spells trying to regain possesion as none of them players mentioned can pass the ball consistently well.

  • Comment number 4.

    Do you think Ronaldinho will make the world cup? It would be real sad if he didn't. Personally i think he has a lot to offer for Brazil and is better than half the players currently in the squad even though he may not be in top form. he seems to be getting his form back. and i think Dunga is in a way sort of doing what Mclaren did with Beckham to Ronaldinho. Any thoughts?

  • Comment number 5.

    No one could doubt the richness and endless supply of football talents from Brazil.
    And, arguably, no one could not help but lamenting the loss of "Samba" football after 1982/86 Brazil. You don't see the graciousness of the likes of Socrates, Zico, Falcao, Careca, Junior.
    Of course, Brazil won the WC in 1994 with Dunga as a captain. But I doubt if many of us would have enjoyed that WC as much as those WCs b4 it.
    No doubt, Brazil is hot favourite for SA 2010. But, taking into the weather into consideration, I opinionate that 2 European countries will be in the finals, likely Germany, Italy, Spain and, yes, England.
    As it its often said: you can only be as good as the coach". I can't think of any national coach has more credentials than FC, including Italy's WC winning Marcelo Lippi.
    Player by player, I can't think of any striker can be as deadly and complete as WR, incl. F. Torres. England's midfield generals can be as good, if not better,as any country's midfields. And in their days, England's defense is as solid as Italy's F. Cannavaro's gang. On top of that, at their best, Wallcott, G. Johnson, Lennon, Lescott and, who could forget him, DB can torment and harass any team, I repeat ANY team, from the wings. What England dearly misses is the likes of M. Owen at his best, G. Lineker, A. Shearer, and Sir BC in the striker department; G. Banks, P. Shilton in goal.
    And, as Dunga commented: "England has to learn to dribble." I think Senor Dunga forgot the arguably best-of-all-time dribblers of Brazil's 1982 lost to Platini's France in one of the most memorable matches of all WCs.

  • Comment number 6.

    Do you think Ronaldo will make it to the World Cup? One of my friends said he was scoring goals and playing well in Brazil but do you think Dunga will just stick with European based players for the majority of his squad?
    Also, you talk about Gilberto Silva being too defensive really for a Brazil team - is there anyone currently playing that Dunga could play in centre midfield to control the game and spray passes around in the style of old Brazil teams?

    Anyway, another good blog as usual!

  • Comment number 7.

    The England Team.
    Our nation.
    A team full of pure world class players but seem to be missing something.
    I have analysed the formation and position of the players of the squad and have come up with an idea which may or may not be the answer.Here goes:

    The goalkeeper:The English keepers are massive keepers who can produce many a miracle-save but have their days off and make mistakes.The search for a consistent number 1 is hard and for the World Cup for example Capello would have to pick the one in best form.The keepers include: David James, Rob Green, Paul Robinson, Scott Carson, Joe Hart, Joe Lewis, Ben Foster or Chris Kirkland.

    The two centre backs:Need to be strong, powerful in the air and decisive at the back.John Terry is the best candidate in my eyes and a great example on and off the pitch.To accompany him in his duties is a hard one my personal choice would be to convince Carragher to come out of retirement and play alongside Terry, but as that is highly unlikely the other centre back for the World Cup would depend on their form and the other central defenders include:Rio Ferdinand, Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka, Jonathan Woodgate, Matthew Upson, Gary Cahill or if he is capable of playing; Ledley King.

    Ashley Cole is my personal option as left-back.He is a great defender can attack as well, is quick, knows the offside trap well, can cross and has a high level of determination.As his substitute their are a few contenders in Wayne Bridge, Stephen Warnock or Leighton Baines and Kieron Gibbs.

    Right back is a tough one and I would seriously consider playing Hargreaves in this position when he comes back from injury otherwise I would play Glen Johnson as a reliable attacking fast wing-back even though his defensive qualities could improve.Another option would be a certain Micah Richards who is fast, strong and a good header, Wes Brown is a good defender but his speed and attacking abilities would't fit on this team.

    My idea for this team is not looking so hard and so far for a strike partnership with Wayne Rooney, on the contrary, looking at where the players on the actual team love to play and enjoy their football and who plays best where.

    In a defensive midfield role just in front of the defence, a rock between the defenders and the midfielders I would play Gareth Barry who is a great defender and passer.Other candidates would be Michael Carrick, Tom Huddlestone or Owen Hargreaves and maybe even Jermaine Jenas.

    The centre of the game and the main playmaker of this team would be Frank Lampard.His passing is amazing and he has the brilliant ability to see passes and pick out players whilst delivering perfectly the pass.

    My choice of winger on either wing would be a quick, smart and swift type of player, capable of delivering that killer cross to Wayne Rooney.
    Down the right wing would depend on who is in the best form as there are so many players who qualify in that area as outstanding like Lennon, Walcott or Wright-Phillips maybe even Bentley.

    My left winger would be a choice between Joe Cole, James Milner, Ashley Young even Downing or a wildcard could be Jack Wilshere.

    The main forward would be Wayne Rooney, the world's best at his best. He is up there with the best strikers in the world and is captured perfectly in the phrase : "it's not how many you score it's how you score them". Fast, intelligent, strong great in all aspects a striker needs but even a striker needs support.But does it have to be a stirke partner?

    The crunch of this team is a second striker, an attacking midfielder, an offensive threat, a player who can ghost between attack and midfield.Steven Gerrard would be the missing link in my opinion and proving that England don't always have to play 4-4-2.Gerrard is a legend at Liverpool but playing in this position. The number of times he has played in a different position for his country is unbelievable.


    ---LENNON- ---LAMPARD-- ---MILNER / J.COLE---

    When another forward needs to come in as a substitute Rooney could drop back to Gerrard's position as either Centre midfielder gives way for another striker who could be:Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Darren Bent, Carlton Cole, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey, Michael Owen or with luck Dean Ashton.Maybe Walcott could play as centre forward too.

    This way we would have someone covering the back four and someone assisting the attack.This team would have speed down the wings, strength down the centre and is built up of strong solid players.

    The spread out would result in many a precise pass and lot's of wondergoals.
    I really hope these ideas can reach someone who could really have an influence in the England team and suggest this to the manager.
    I hope you like my ideas and can be of help.

  • Comment number 8.

    1 - i don't think brazil were anything out of this world on saturday, but they didn't have to be - what was impressive for me was that they knew exactly what they were suposed to be doing.

    4 - ronaldinho has a great chance of a recall as a kind of one man plan B. Dunga holds him in high rgeard, carried him around for 3 years showing enormous patience. Now he's getting a regular game and finding a bit of form - keep it up and he's in the picture.

    Someone to spray the ball around from centrefield? This, fr me, isthe tragedy of contemporary Brazilian football - they're not producing enough players of this type. Hernanes of sao paulo is a great hope, but i think he needs a move abroad - it's such a shame he didn't go to barcelona last year because i think guardiola could teach him so much.

  • Comment number 9.

    If England play with either Walcott, Lennon, Wright Phillips or Young i can see long spells trying to regain possesion as none of them players mentioned can pass the ball consistently well.


    Don't agree...Lennon and Walcott on their day are both supremely quick and can pick out great passes. Lennon has especially improved in the last 6-8 months, people forget he is only 21.

    A fit Walcott would be an immense addition to the squad for South Africa as he can play as striker or right wing.

  • Comment number 10.

    Tim, I wish the same level of thoughtful analysis was brought to bear upon the English game by so-called pundits and writers on a regular basis. I am in accord with many of the replies before me - I would really love to know what style of football you think England should be playing and how this could be best achieved in South Africa 2010?

  • Comment number 11.

    5. In 1982 we lost to Italy 3x2 with Paolo Rossi scoring a hat-trick and not to France's Platini, that was in 1986.

    As for the game, i thought Brazil did ok, we did not have our first XI, and as for England not sure even if you had your best XI it would make much difference to the result (you probably missed A Cole and Gerard, the other players are just average).

    And btw, Dunga is right, England cannot drible!

  • Comment number 12.

    3- Most of your points are correct, but it didn't help that we had underpar players such as Jenas and Huddlestone with us (even the bland and uninspiring Carrick didn't make it - at least our fifth choice CM), Jenas too often receives the ball in a good position with opetions and then runs with it into a dead-end. He has a good touch, but no vision, and the worst thing is, he get praise for running into dead-ends! People always say "well done, son, you NEARLY made it through" this is unbelievable that we should have to have such mediocrities playing in the three lions.

    You have under-estimated Barry however, the job he had to do was almost redundant on Saturday as the players around him didn't offer him nearly enough movement for him to excel. The real shame is the absence of Lee Cattermole, I am convinced he would have made his debut on Saturday if fit and it's a pity that such a promising young defensive midfielder (the second best in England - other than a fit Hargreaves) has missed such an opportunity.

    Still I think the chance for Capello to observe Dunga at work at first hand is the real bonus for us, we have had a look at Spain, France and Brazil now and I wouldn't be too worried about the latter two, we can give them a game if we perform to our ability. and yes, Joe Cole is a must.

  • Comment number 13.

    Tim what do you think of the chances of Rafael Carioca breaking into the squad if there was an injury or some poor form from one of the established CMs? He has always impressed when Ive seen him play and has very good discipline for a defensive midfielder, which could be important for avoiding bans in a WC?

    On another note, I think the current Brazil team could do well in South Africa but I wouldnt consider them favourites, I know they have had some good wins but I just think if they come up against an organized German team with the power of Ballack and co they might be outmuscled or if the Spanish play to their potential, they could just be passed off the park.
    Still, hope we dont come up against them too early haha!
    Interesting to see how we would have coped against them with a full squad, we would have been more vulnerable on the break but we have such a vast amount of quality we could definitely have caused them a lot of problems also and imposed our own style on the game.
    Still think it was a good effort by the lads who came in, impressed by Milner I think he deserves to be on the plane (y)

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi tim,

    Good blog. I was very impressed with Felipe Melo on Saturday but with Gilberto Silva alongside him Brazil look limited in midfield. A bit like Ireland with Andrews and Whelan but a bit more quality.

    What i want to know is what do you think of Diego of Juventus? He's having a very good season and very creative. I know he normally plays more forward in the Kaka role, but do you think he would be able to drop back in to the centre of midfield alongside Felipe Melo and play the type of passes the likes of Toninho Cerezo and Falcao used to?

  • Comment number 15.

    Anyway that was all a bit OT, good blog Tim, any players in the Brazil squad who didn't get on the pitch you would have liked to see tried out?

    also, as a post-script to my previous post, the atmosphere at that game was awful! The likes of Milner are twice the players when pumped up, and the heat should also not be discounted when comparing performances, or to be fair, the ref, it would have been much worse if the red had been shown (as it should have).

  • Comment number 16.

    u r right, SPFCBRASIL. My bad, it was in deed 1986 with my Choice of Best National Team of all times.
    Not many team can boast better dribbling skills than Brazil.
    It is a fact English Footballers can't dribble as well, but I can't see anyone else can play long passing balls as beautiful and deadly accurate as the English.
    BTW my point is to win a game at the WC level, i.e. when all hands on the table, it requires more than a dribbling know-how.

  • Comment number 17.

    Another good piece Tim, as per usual :)

    Yet, for all Dunga's improvingly good work, I wouldn't consider Brazil the #1 favourite for the World Cup for the first time in ages. What is your take on this with the latest developments in mind?

    As far as the Flu-watch goes (the Rio version, not the Mexican), do you reckon they'll make it after their latest win, or will they just fail to beat the drop in the end?

  • Comment number 18.

    Tim, excellent article.

    I have to admit I didn't watch the game, but am intrigued to read about the strategic interplay of Kaka and Luis Fabiano. It seems to me this is becoming a default tactic for beating an English team. The way you describe it sounds very similar to how Barcelona played Manchester United in the CL final, with Messi playing as centre-forward, dropping deep to combine with his creative midfielders, thus drawing the centre-backs out and creating space for the wingers. One would think Fabio Capello had the tactical nous to device a counter-strategy though, but maybe he felt restricted by the lack of his best players?

    If I were England manager (or indeed manager of any national team) and preparing to face Brazil, I'd highly consider playing with three centre-backs. That way, you have a spare man who can pick up the centre-forward when he drops deep, while at the same time retaining the standard central-defensive duo in their normal positions. Such a formation would provide solidity and, since Brazil these days don't look to dominate midfield, still make it possible to play an attacking game, particularly if the full/wing-backs (in England's case A. Cole on the left and either Johnson or Milner on the right) can be brought into business. Do you think such a formation would have any chance of working?

    Speaking of full-backs, I'm still mystified by the absence from Brazil's squad of Deportivo's Luis Filipe. He's been the best left-back in the Spanish league over the past 12 months, is one of the most consistent crossers of a ball in Europe (particularly from deep, which could be effective for Brazil in combination with Kaka's late runs into the box) and is surely a much more viable long-term option than natural midfielders such as Fabio Aurelio and Marcelo or a defensively-limited player such as Michel Bastos?

  • Comment number 19.

    Oh, and SPFC are gonna win it by 5 clear points after all ;)

  • Comment number 20.

    Brazil's best teams were in 1950, 1958, 1970 and 1982. Of those four, only two won the world cup. The problem is that to win the World Cup you don't necessarily need to have a good team - look at Italy in 2006 or Argentina in 1978. What you do need is tactical awareness and the ability to grind out results from unpromising situations. In the past, this has been the problem with Brazil, but in recent years they have become much more pragmatic and willing to go for the 1-0 win. This approach has brought results, by winning Brazil the World Cup competitions of 1994 and 2002, but it has made the game all the poorer for it. Seeing Brazil play England I honestly didn't see much that excited me - true, Brazil was the stronger side, but the beautiful game just wasn't there. I hope Brazil do badly in the World Cup - I believe we still need the beautiful game and only the Brazil of old can deliver it.

  • Comment number 21.

    Its hard to criticise Dunga when he keeps getting the results, however i feel that one slip up and the hawks will be out on him. Having looked at the game i like Brazil's strength. They are hard to knock off the ball and their defenders deserve a bit of praise. Personally i believe even if a full England XI beat Brazil it would still be a shock victory. Brazil just look a lot better at keeping the ball, better technically and better general football know how. But this is nothing new. I mean England havent beaten Brazil in 19 years and its what 3 wins out of 20 meetings - that tells a compelling story.

  • Comment number 22.

    Shevabk2milan - fair comment, and the Brazil defense deserves far more than a bit of praise. Lucio and Julio Cesar in particular.

  • Comment number 23.

    Brazil's recent performances have placed great emphasis on not only counter-attacking but set-plays as well. To essentially describe them as one-trick ponies is slightly blinkered (pardon the pun).

  • Comment number 24.

    I'd also like to know what you think of Diego and his chances of playing in 2010? Obviously Kaka is likely to keep him out of the first 11 but is he likely to make the squad?

  • Comment number 25.

    Great blog Tim

    20 - Brazil 1970 for me. Boy-o-boy will we ever see the like again. England lost that classic 1-0 in the stages but held their heads high. This England team under Capello can look at this latest chapter and feel equally satisfied. Brazilian nous won this game but Capello knows this. It will be his ability to motivate a talented first eleven that will get england over the psychological hump. Can he do it? Yes! We may be in for some classics in SA. England just need to believe in an entirely different paradigm as shown by the Brazilians. Capello can deliver this.

    Football is in very good shape right now and england should take both pride and lessons out of this recent encounter. All around good stuff!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    James, Johnson, Terry, Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Beckham, Lennon, Gerrard, Hargreaves, Carrick, Lampard, Joe Cole, Carlton Cole and Heskey.

    All of these players were missing from Saturday's squad and 9 of them would have started. So I think looking at tactics to see where Brazil may do well does ignore the fact that it was an England B side with Wayne Rooney. If England were going to the WC with that side, yes we'd get knocked out in the groups. Hopefully we won't.

  • Comment number 27.

    Perhaps the best formation for the England team is not 4-4-2 but 4-3-3,
    However this would mean no room for Hesskey, what a shame.
    I know heskey will go to south africa, why I couldn't tell you because
    Lineker could do a better job.

    By the time the world cup comes along, there will be a few suprise
    Late candidates, hopefully they will include Warnock and Owen, on form
    Owen is the best hope of a goal England have.
    Going with the squad will be Beckham, not is he a world class player but
    Somehow with age he has become a greater asset to a squad.

    Arguably the most influentual player England have is the ever present and
    Reliable Gareth Barry, because of him Englang now have a chance, an
    Even better one if Walcott gets over his shoulder problems.

    But if england do make it to the final this woulg be a historic time,
    even if they don't win it would be amazing to be alive at that
    To be honest spain are the team to beat, maybe the best equipped team is
    Read the left, thankyou.

  • Comment number 28.

    It might sound daft but I reckon if there is really such a shortage of left-backs, then surely good old Roberto Carlos could be considered. The guy is capable of physically doing a job for a good 60 minutes a game, why not get him involved?

    Also, from what I've seen of Graffite the Wolfsburg striker, surely Dunga has to give him some sort of chane to impress before he picks his WC squad. Having said that, it's a bit like Argentina, there will no doubt be many top players whio don't go to South Africa.

    Oh, and come on Ireland for Wednesday. Would love to see Platini and Blatter's plan to seed the play-offs backfire!

  • Comment number 29.

    Well TIm..I have decided to stop raining praises on the quality of your blogs...I thought Brazil contained England pretty well over the weekend though most of there first choice players were missing but as you said it could have been worse if the had there first team.

    I for one is not pleased with Brazil's present style of play but when it is effective it is difficult to criticise. though I'm sure if they don't do well in the world cup then the Jusy will b eout.

    Dunga has a ugly style of winning and that is uncharacteritic of the Smaba and for some reasons the beautiful futsal is now the spanish identity. I still find his team selection shocking still though particularly with the inclusion of Lucas, Josue, Julio Baptista, klebber instead of Andre Santos, Pato and Ronaldinho. The latter two who are bood form at the moment. Julio Baptista has hardly played 3omins in total for Roma this season. what is your opinion on this?

  • Comment number 30.

    27 (L) You were doing so well. Suggesting 4-3-3 is indeed an option for England (but I suspect as Fabio has not tried it yet then it isn't going to start now). However, suggesting Owen is faintly ridiculous. This is a man who, even in the peak of form, was only 5th choice striker at Real Madrid. The reason stated by the Madrid hierarchy at the time? He is a good finisher but he adds nothing to the team. See the 'team' word. This is why he is a moderately good impact substitute for Man U and also why he is a poor starter (and rarely starts). He is NOT good enough because it is a team game. World class forwards need to create chances as well as take them. They need to be able to drop deep, pick out passes and, yes, even defend from the front. I like the Rooney-Gerrard combo as suggested earlier a la Liverpool of Torres-Gerrard (and no I'm not a Liverpool supporter).

  • Comment number 31.

    jamois, you're wrong sorry, Owen was dropped for political reasons (the Perez factor) he scored the most goals (when you take minutes on the pitch into the equation) and is still held in very high regard by those he played with (I'm going by what Salgado has said as a pundit on British TV). At his peak he was the most dangerous striker in the world (fit Ronaldo excepted), sadly he has lost a bit of pace and confidence, but he would still be an asset to any side.

  • Comment number 32.

    My bad I was multitask hence affected my typing...

    2nd paragraph- "I meant jury will be out"
    3rdparagraph- " I meant who are in good form

  • Comment number 33.

    call me romantic, or sentimental or whatever you like, but I cannot think how Brazil could be a worse side with the inclusion of Ronaldinho and Ronaldo

    The two Ronnies

    Great lads. Ronaldinho is a better player than Robinho and Nilmar, there is no doubt about that and has the ability to single handedly on his day drag a team to the final. He is that good. Yes he is out of shape and not at his best but a world cup place could be the perfect insentive for this.

    Fat ronaldo is a better finisher than Fabiano, not as quick but a better goalscorer and I see Fabiano with this unbelieveable scoring record within Dunga's system and think Ronaldo could score even more, asd Fabiano although a decent scorer with Seville will never be a top top striker. and consider that Ronaldo was the best of his generatioon and is still not finished yet. put them in please dunge

  • Comment number 34.

    On the evidence of Saturday night it is Spain who must be regarded as the top team in international football at the moment. They have a better first eleven and a host of more than capable squad players. They keep the ball better than anyone and have the best forward pair of any nation.

    Brasil easily put England "B" to the sword but, in my opinion, they didn't show me enough to suggest that they would beat the Spanish.

    The teams with a realsitic claim to be called contenders are: Spain, Brasil, Italy, Germany and England with France an outside bet if they change their coach!

  • Comment number 35.

    "Someone to spray the ball around from centrefield?"
    I've heard of someone called Anderson who plays for a small club called Manchester United. He's not too bad, and could probably do a job.

  • Comment number 36.

    Lifelong Brazil fan, and agree with the comments of marklv and Tim, but I rate the 1986 team as the greatest ever. Something like ten goals for, ZERO conceded until the loss to France (blown penalty by Zico, who never should have been given the task, since he was newly inserted and cold).

    The question I have, Tim, is this: there are scores of purists like us who wholly reject the mercenary approach to sports -- and life -- that winning justifies everything; are most folks in Brazil happy to win ugly, or would they prefer a return to jogo bonito, even at the risk of a loss? Is there a groundswell of protest at the loss of an art form?

    I think it goes far beyond inartful passing. It is of course the lack of attacking football, save on the counter (I never thought I'd see the day that Brazil played like Italy -- argh!), but also the lack of dribbling. Heaven forbid we ever see a return to brilliant runs as the Brazilians above all delighted in.

    Possession is the god now, and taking on defenders with dribbling skills risks a loss of possession, so better to pass the ball backwards. Sure, possession will be lost many times, but that one time it is not, the defense is broken down, and openings are made, and beautiful football ensues.

    Nah, let's just pass the ball backwards for 90 minutes and cross the ball futilely into the packed middle over and over.

  • Comment number 37.

    #33... I'm sorry but the fact that Luis Fabiano is scoring goals for Brazil and Sevilla means he is a top striker.. backed up by the fact a lot of teams have been interested in him recently but are put off by Sevilla's valuation..

    So I wouldnt say your notion is romantic.. just wrong.

  • Comment number 38.

    Hi Tim,

    I was really looking fowward to seeing Brazil after your blog of last week about Gilberto Silva and especially about the lack of creativity in the Brazilian midfield.

    To be honest, watching the match on Saturday night, I think you do Gilberto a bit of disservice. I thought he was very instrumental to the way that Brazil now play their football. Often times, I saw Gilberto deputising as a 3rd central defender and it gave the other players (especially Lucio) the confidence to forage forward knowing that there was defensive cover.

    However, I do agree with you that there does seem to be a lack of the killer pass and they often relied on Kaka to do all creative work, but I'm guessing this is something Dunga can work on later before the tournament next year.

    Another player who seems to catch my eye was Melo and he seems to get better as the match wore on and was seen showing more confidence to run forward with the ball knowing Gilberto will sit and cover.

    Finally, the left back position is definately a problem for brazil. I was not impressed with their left-back and I think if Lennon was playing, England would have exposed that weakness a lot more.

    I think Dunga has really grown in stature as the match showed that he had studied England really well and used the nimble Nilmar to expose Wes Brown, which was not the case with England. They played their usual way and I was expecting Capello to expose more of Brazil's weaknesses albeit, he did not have his best players for this match.

  • Comment number 39.

    As long as Brazil continues to beat big opponents in such a convincing manner, you won't hear me complain about Dunga anymore. About the left back, I though Andre Santos did a good job at the Confederations Cup last year. Fenerbahce has snapped him and there he's being deployed as a midfielder. For me, that leaves Maxwell and Luis Filipe as the two best players for the left back position.
    Two questions for you, Tim: what did you think of Hulk's performance? I've supported his inclusion, because he's an ideal standin for Luis Fabiano.

  • Comment number 40.

    I thought the difference in technical ability on the ball, between the Engalnd and Brazil players, stood out.

    And the irony is that Brazilians don't consider this Brazil team a particularly skilful one.

    Having said that, I think England can do well at the World Cup if their first choice XI can avoid injuries and suspensions.

    That's all that Saturday's match proved for me - that the England reserves aren't good enough

    I also watched Spain 2 Argentina 1.

    Spain played some beautiful football, but I wonder if they're peaking too early.

    The World Cup's all about finding the right team at exactly the right time. In the 2nd half, I thought Maradona's Argentina showed some promising signs. There's a good team in there somewhere, and it could work in there favour that expectations are going to be low.

  • Comment number 41.

    Some interesting comments from Matthew Upson, highlighting the differences between the way Brazil play and the type of opposition he's used to in the Prem league.

    He said: "It was a difficult game. They slowed it down when it suited them. It was a fantastic game. It is great to pit ourselves against the best side in the world.

    "We were missing a lot of players but that just gives others an opportunity. With the right game plan in the right situation, we can do well against them. We need to bear that in mind when we go into the World Cup.

    "Brazil are different because of the situations they are in when they receive the ball. In the Premier League the balls come down the sides. Brazil play short passes to feet and there is good movement off you.

    "It is a different-paced game. Tactically it is different. It was a really good test. You have to be careful how tight you get to people because you can get turned.

    "You have to make good decisions about where you are going to put your body to try and intercept it."

  • Comment number 42.

    It never ceases to amaze me how biased this column is and, because people don't actually know about South American football, they seem to lap it up. If a full-strength Brazil team can only beat a 2nd-string England team 1-0 and not exactly outplaying their opponents I don't see them doing anything in South Africa.

  • Comment number 43.

    Nicely balanced and researched piece, I am british but have a lot of connections with Brazil and have spent a lot of time there, they have 5 stars on thier shirt as oppose to Englands one star for many fundamental reasons, they love the game in a different way in Brazil than we do here which is expressed in the way they play.

    There is only one way to beat Brazil consistently, you have to nulify thier attacking instincs with a rock solid 5 man dedicated defence ( back 4 plus 1 protecting midfielder). All the defenders must be comfortable on the ball and be able to pass the ball and work as a single unit with no ambition beyond the 1/2 way line except for set pieces.

    Then you have to have a a very creative midfiled set up and a proven clinical finisher of the calibre of Van Persie leading the line for when brazil get frustrated and let you in.

    You dont have that then you cant win, my biggest concern for the current england set up for the scenario described above is the defence. The ferdinand / terry axis is looking dadly exposed now and the backs have no stability or consistency, ashley cole is too attack minded as is Johnson.

    Arguably on their best form we have the midfield and the front men to beat Brazil, but we dont have the stable back 5 platform to launch them from.

    Sadly the only way to beat Brazil is to use their love of the game against them...even if you do beat them that way brazil will have the moral victory most times.

    The final I would like to see is Spain against Brazil this time, that could be a classic I think instead of the turgid tactical finals we have endured more often than not in recent years.

    I just hope brazil keep playing the way that they do and dont get sucked into too much tactical thinking, they are the only footballing nation that can afford that luxury.

    nuff said

  • Comment number 44.

    42. It could've been 3 0r 4 nil, had the ref sent Foster off. Besides, this wasn't a full strenght Brazil team. Even if England had a full team, i don't think their way of play would be different from Saturday's. Anyway, comes the WC we'll see, i just want to point out that European teams never won a WC outside Europe. And apart from Spain, i cannot see a team capable of beating Brazil at the moment.

  • Comment number 45.

    Hey, zell182...I don't know where you got the idea that it was a "full strenght" brazil team. Dunga was without many of their main players, like Juan, Fabio Aurelio or ramirez, all out injured. No, my friend...second rate England was beated by second rate Brazil. In any case, I don't see how putting Brazil down makes England any better. Right now, Brazil is the least of England's problems...Capello has some work to do if he wants the team to get anywhere near a cup in 2010.

  • Comment number 46.

    Even the great Brazil sides of old new how to be cynical and kick when needed, let no one be fooled every Brazil team is well organised, hard to beat and always playing to a plan. We may not notice the graft and hard work as much with there most flamboyant sides but its always there and one of the reasons there world cup record is so good. I believe this Brazil team has the skill and flair of there old teams but the way football is played now and the improvement of other Nations they dont get nearly as many chances to show it. The result comes first then the performance, the Brazil team probably reflects the coach imo no frills , quality, and a winner. Regarding England i dont think formations is that important of course any team needs shape but players like Gerrard, Lampard, Barry, Cole and Rooney are clever and good enough to read danger and interchange positions and be able to react to whatever game they may need to play. Of course they all have jobs to do for the team but if our midfielders see a chance i believe they are capable of taking it regardless of what area of the pitch they may be in.

  • Comment number 47.

    "The question I have, Tim, is this: there are scores of purists like us who wholly reject the mercenary approach to sports -- and life -- that winning justifies everything; are most folks in Brazil happy to win ugly, or would they prefer a return to jogo bonito, even at the risk of a loss? Is there a groundswell of protest at the loss of an art form?"

    Excellent question and no need of a rocket scientist to answer that... Playing beautiful football is something that the so-called "purists" always demand from their competitors, never from their own team...from their own team they want just one thing, victory.

  • Comment number 48.

    " Even if England had a full team, i don't think their way of play would be different from Saturday's"

    no, but without the likes of Jenas and SWP firing pointless balls up to the likes of Defoe instead of Bent, the quality would have been better. The only weakness in Brazil's team was the left back. And he did fine although he was hardly taxed. How are the rest second string?

    England did ok, and yes Foster should have walked thanks to Brown's lack of awareness of Nilmar's pace - you might consider whether the players were really ready for (or bothered about) the game - they should have known Brazil's strengths better. Had Brown been playing against Henry, for example, he wouldn't have risked the chest back.

  • Comment number 49.

    hotspring, you're probably right, but I wonder if there is a significant pocket of dissent.

    Look at Chelsea: Mourinho won, but Roman A. wanted to see lovely football, not mercenary football, and so the winning manager was given the axe.

    I think there are more folks who like the beautiful game than you might reckon.

  • Comment number 50.

    Why doesn't Dunga pick Alexandre Pato? Brazil don't exactly have a great group of strikers at the moment,it would be madness not to take Pato to the World Cup.

  • Comment number 51.

    Over recent years the side that's had the sign over Brazil has been France - physically strong, mark tight and Brazil couldn't find a way to mark Zidane - he started the play from deep, when Brazil's defensive midfielder is positioned to stifle someone higher up - so that's probably the best bet if you want to beat Brazil - find a Zidane!

  • Comment number 52.

    50 - Luis Fabiano scoring goal after goal, Nilmar scoring goal after goal, Adriano in scintillating form - no problems in that department!

    I think Pato can get back in in time for the World Cup, but there's lots of competition. next year we'll have a fascinating soap operato watch - ronaldo v dunga. will ronaldo score enough goals in the libertadores to force a call up from a reluctant coach?

  • Comment number 53.

    38 - last week and this i made a mention of gilberto silva's defensive covering.

    The problem with him in possession comes when the game is goalless - the service he gives is slow and to the side, slow and to the side...

  • Comment number 54.

    The only reason Brazil of the 1970's could play the way they did is ecause the other teams let them. Today even the small European teams are full of proper athletes who are tactically aware and battle hardened from playing champions league football. Anyoen trying to play that way today would find themselves unable to break the opposition down at all.

  • Comment number 55.

    Tim you say when Gilberto Silva has the ball the service is slow and sideways, this also means you have posession of the ball and are unlikely to concede something Englands players would do well to learn, If there is no movement and the pass is not on whats the point in hitting a aimless miracle pass and then spending the next five minutes chasing to regain the ball in order to start again? Strikers may only be as good as the service but strikers must have good movement in order for any midfielder to pick out a pass. You say in your article Fabiano kept coming deep in the England game so that dont give Gilberto Silva much chance of pinging passes like Platini does it.

  • Comment number 56.

    "that dont give Gilberto Silva much chance of pinging passes like Platini does it." I'm sorry but that made me giggle.

  • Comment number 57.

    On a slightly seperate note, is it not about time TV pundits knew what they were talkign about.

    Watching the game the commentators made more than one reference to "Brazilian defenders" having a tendancy to go walkabout... Wheras one of the defining traits of Brazilian football is their defensive solidity that allows their counter-attacks to be so deadly.

  • Comment number 58.

    It's long since the time that TV pundits knew what they were talking about. For every Leonardo, Desailly, Dixon and Balague there are two or three Grays, Pleats, Townshends and Sounesses. If only Mr Vickery would provide Football Focus with a periodical video blog. SUBTLE HINT AIMED AT BBC.

  • Comment number 59.

    This article is a relief from a very boring lecture!

    I watched the game, and Brazil played well. They got the basics right, and that's what mattered, whether they were playing the English 2nd or 10th side.

    I was impressed by Nilmar, who was playing as sort of a left winger, but when Fabiano was dropping deep to help Kaka start moves (2 guys who played great again) he would drift in the middle.

    One substitute however caught my eye. Carlos Eduardo (there are too much of them now!) from Hoffenheim is a great playmaker, he does a stellar job for his club. Nice to see that Dunga gave him a run do you rate him Tim? Do you think he's good enough to make the squad for SA?

  • Comment number 60.

    What do you make of Fluminense Dalton Tim? In my opinion, despite what Cuca has done with Fluminense and Fred scoring goals for fun right now, I think Dalton is the reason for Flu's resurrection, he does the basic things of defending so well and has been solid for Fluminense. Even at 19, he's got to be one of the best defenders in Serie A right now. He' like a rock at back. Surely its a matter of time untill he gets a call up in to the natioanl squad and an offer from a top European club.
    What do you make of the young Brazilian defenders coming through these days? Before it was unthinkable for Brazil to have players who knew how to defend. What do you make of Fluminense' chances of staying in Serie A? Whats going on at the club seems quite remarkable, the form there on, and with one foot in the final of the Sulamericana. I dont understand why every year it seems like a big Brazilian clubs gets relegated, and this year it looks like its out of Botafogo or Fluminense. In the recent past, theres been Vasco, Corinthians and Palmerias

  • Comment number 61.

    Tim you say when Gilberto Silva has the ball the service is slow and sideways, this also means you have posession of the ball and are unlikely to concede something Englands players would do well to learn, If there is no movement and the pass is not on whats the point in hitting a aimless miracle pass and then spending the next five minutes chasing to regain the ball in order to start again? Strikers may only be as good as the service but strikers must have good movement in order for any midfielder to pick out a pass. You say in your article Fabiano kept coming deep in the England game so that dont give Gilberto Silva much chance of pinging passes like Platini does it.


    Yes you are unlikely to concede which is pretty useless when the teams you are playing, such as Bolivia, Venezuela or Estonia are seeking to park the bus in front of you. Hence the 1-0 and 0-0 scorelines. It becomes a reduanant position because you need to quicken the play and start attacking the opponents by spreading the play out and hitting quality balls from all directions, angles, lengths and speeds. The fact is, this creative ball playing midfielder is becoming a rarity in Brazil and is being replaced by the bulky Gilberto Silva esque midfield player - which looks great when playing teams who need to be broken down but looks cumbersome when you are facing much weaker teams.

    Even if the striker makes a wonderful break free from his marker, Gilberto Silva does not have the intelligence to flight a pinpoint ball into the open space or have the 'eye' for the pass such maestros as Platini had. The fact you dared to include his name alongside Gilberto Silva in the same sentence has pretty much summed up the ignorance of your entire post.

  • Comment number 62.

    Great post, Tim. I agree that Brazil looked very comfortable working as a unit, and Dunga has to get some credit for that.

    By the way, wasn't it Gilberto who won the ball in England's half, which turned into a goal a couple of passes later? It was almost like last week's discussion was summed up in that play. Gilberto does the dirty work, the ball ends up with Elano, who plays a precise ball over the top to a Nilmar, who finishes expertly and Brazil win again.

  • Comment number 63.

    37 - You are wrong. Listen he is 29, why has not been at a top club already. Presumably because he flopped disasterously at Porto his first big european move. Then returned just 5 league goals, followed by 10 the next year for seville. Yes he struck 24 league goals the following season but last season, back to the same frustration of scoring just 8 league goals. This is not the 5 year recored of a TOP STRIKER i'm afraid.

    I think if Ronaldo took his place both at club and international level he would score more goals. I'm unsure whether you could find statistics or opinions to argue with this.

    Fabianos 1st 4 seasons in spain yielded 47 goals from 105 games, whereas ronaldo managed 82 in 120. Fabiano a goal every 2.2 games. Ronaldo a goal every 1.4.

  • Comment number 64.

    Nice blog Tim however i admit to being more than a little surprised at your topic this week.

    Yes i expected some mention of Brazil V England but not as your one and only topic.
    I expected the main thrust to concern Uruguay's effort on Saturday in San Jose so i'm a little disappointed but hey, always next week.

  • Comment number 65.

    I see a pattern here, people want Brazil (and other sides) to play like in the 80s and before... Clearly, that is not possible because the game has changed a lot since then.

    It's also wrong to expect a team to play a cup (or prepare to play one) in the same manner they'd play a long championship. Do you want teams to take risks, attempt to keep possession, be creative, and/or even reckless? For that to happen, we'd need to change the rules of the game, or more specifically, the rules of the World Cup.

    Concerning the English side, I actually like the team, I mean the starting XI, but I also think they lack strength in depth. I understand that is one of Brazil's strengths (due to population) since despite very few exceptions (Kaka mostly) all have suitable replacements of similar (if not better) quality. However, other countries also have better options than England atm.

  • Comment number 66.

    Hi Tim, a quick question. Now this is not concreate and I have not done my research, but I always thought luis fabiano was left-footed, but yet took the penalty against england with his right. Just thought this was especially suspecious considering he missed. If so, why did he do this?!?!

  • Comment number 67.

    65 - You misunderstand. Many of us recognise that Brazil have to play with a DM in the modern game.

    What is depressing is that for the past 20 years they have been cultivating pure destroyers in that position who, while extremely effective, contribute little to the attack.

    Imagine if Brazil concentrated on raising DMs who not only shield the backline but also have the vision and passing to playmake from that position.

    Brazil would be immensely attractive (which they have not been for the last 20 years) to watch and still be as formidable as they are now, in fact even more so.

    And the rest of the world, nations and clubs, would have to follow suit making it a better spectacle for the rest of us.

  • Comment number 68.

    An extract from my football blog:

    "In Melo and Silva, Dunga has two excellent ball-winners, capable of soaking up pressure from the opposition, squeezing space and then quickly hoofing the ball fifty-yards for an attacker to run onto. Again, using two defensively-minded defensive midfielders is a common trait of counter-attacking football, as is the use of rapid fullbacks to stretch a defence on the break. However, their is a downside to Brazil’s system and it is something which England discovered in Qatar; Brazil are a one-dimensional side.

    For all the possession they had, and for all the times they were camped inside England’s half with the ball, Brazil manufactured relatively few chances. The bulk of their chances on goal came from counter-attacks in which Nilmar had space to drive at Upson and Brown, not through excellent passing football. This unfortunately for Dunga, is a drawback of the system he uses; neither Kaka nor Robinho are content with linking play and working the ball around until the gap appears, and neither Gilberto nor Melo are going to dispatch a forty-yard daisy-cutter into the feet of Nilmar, in-behind a defence. Brazil, quite simply, are incapable of creating a gap in the opposition defence. They need the gaps to be already there, otherwise, as we saw on Saturday, they become frustrated, as a mediocre, make-shift English side held their own comfortably for large periods of the match, despite Brazil dominating possession.

    We saw earlier in the year just how reliant Brazil are on a tactically weak side who leave spaces as they go forward, during Brazil’s encounter with Argentina earlier this year. Brazil defended comfortable all game, dismissing Argentina’s feeble attacks with ease, in the process having three counter-attacks, and scoring from all three, as Maradona left his side greatly exposed at the back, giving Kaka plenty of space in which to work on the break. Similarly in the Confedartions Cup, despite brazil winning the tournament, flowing possession football was scarce from Dunga’s men and the majority of Brazil’s goals were the result of sharp counter attacks or moments of individual excellence from the likes of Kaka."

    I seriously doubt Brazil's ability to win the world cup. They are far too one-dimensional and a side such as Spain or Holland, which can play quick counter-attacking football yet also create gaps when in possession and ensure the holes are plugged when they attack, will have no troubel overcoming Brazil.

  • Comment number 69.

    regarding Saturday's game.

    Second string England did not make Brazil look average. That is just the way Dunga's Brazil play. They chose not to overextend themselves rather than being forced into impotency and their defense remained untroubled for 90 mins. Dunga is a results man and he got the result again.

    Had the first choice XI played then yes, we would have asked more questions in attack but on the other hand that would simply leave us more open to Brazil's devastating counter.

    What we should have noticed on Saturday is that Brazil look like a very organised, disciplined unit, completely aware of their roles on the pitch.

    I'm a big fan of Capello but England still don't quite look like this, despite the impressive qualifying campaign, and we haven't looked like it since Venable's side in '96.

  • Comment number 70.

    Scotland being currently ranked by FIFA at number 46 are struggling as they have for a while and seem to have driven away more managers than most. Who will now pick up the baton and run with the Scots? A brave man perhaps? Like Republic of Ireland (34) and Northern Ireland (30) are ranked slightly above Scotland as it stands with England topping the pack at Number 7 in the quartet!

    Where do these sides aspire to reach? Maybe they are there now or could even go lower, be realistic! The problem being that these smaller nations only have a limited number of players to choose from. This seems an obvious statement but if you do not have the quality then no team will do well.

    The England "second string" team that played, with the exception of two players, did OK against Brazil but showed the lack of real quality of the squad beyond the first team. There are some of those players that can fill in but that's about it, they are not going to set the world on fire, I'm afraid.

    Let's hope that the first team leading stars stay fit. No need to worry as this also applies to many other international teams so we are not alone.

  • Comment number 71.

    Watched the game out here in Brazil. The Brazilians were disappointed that our big name players all bottled it except for Rooney which made it a bit of a non-event on a sunny saturday afternoon. The commentators were full of praise for James Milner who they described as the most Brazilian English player on the pitch.
    Well at least they knowe what to expect in the WC. We still can't keep possession. From the kick-off we played three passes back to the defence and then hoofed it forward....did we have a shot on target?....I was off to the swimming pool after 10 minutes of the second half when we had a free kick about 30 yards out and instead of testing the keeper for the first time passed the ball out to the left....and straight out for a throw. An embarassing performance and according to the sunday papers Brazil hasn't lost to England in the last 19 this rate can't see that likely to change in the foreseeable!

  • Comment number 72.

    For those that complain of the demise of the Beautiful Game that Brazil used to play need to understand that it was not by choice that they've taken a less attractive, more direct approach. The officiating has changed in the past 20-30 years to allow defenders to grab, clutch, hold and obstruct quick and highly skilled attackers. Teams can no longer play the beautiful passing and interchanges without being perisitently fouled or held by defenders. You cannot win the WC with attractive football. You have to be willing to play long-ball and use pace, strength and rugged defending. Until FIFA makes the decision that they want to return to attractive football with skill featured over athleticism, then we'll continue to see football look more and more like rugby.

  • Comment number 73.


    I utterly dismiss the notion that teams can 'no longer' play 'beautiful passing' without being held by defenders or that you cannot win the World Cup playing 'attractive football'. Absoloute nonsense.

    Spain won Euro 2008 playing beautiful football. Barcelona won the Champions League playing the most aesthetically pleasing football of the decade. Not only this, but their side consisted of little men which traditional, ignorant English commentators felt could be 'bullied' off the ball. In actual fact, Iniesta, Xavi and Messi - three little men - tore Carrick, Anderson, Vidic and Rio - all big men - to shreds.

    The beautiful game will always live on. The correct tactics simply need to be applied to achieve success with it. You cannot do what Maradona does, in telling your players to go out, swap positions a little and pass the ball short anymore. You have to do what Guardiola and Aragones did - relentless tactical application. ie. Dropping Messi short so Iniesta and Xavi have someone to link with, dropping a defensive midfielder into defence allowing the fullbacks to forage forward and stretch a defence.

  • Comment number 74.

    @73, yes, it is possible, but much more difficult! Remember that Spain got shut off by the pragmatic Italy (missing many starters), and Barca by a pragmatic Chelsea (outplaying them in both games).

    The fact remains, that at least in the world cup, only the pragmatic teams have won lately.

  • Comment number 75.


    I think the lack of recent WC winners which play pleasing football is merely down to management, not an evolution of the game.

    Look at the Champions League winners of late:

    AC Milan in 03 and 07 played gorgeous football, as did Barca this year and in 2006, as did the United side of Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez in 08, with all three inter-chaneging upfront to devastating effect. Similarly, Madrid in 2002 played excellent in pleasing the eye.

    Ancelotti, Guardiola, Del Bosque, Ferguson - all solid, if not - in the case of Pep, excellent - tactical minds with the ability to apply the ruthless tactics employed by a Mourinho or Benitez into a system of free-flowing, possession football.

    In Aragones in '08, Spain had a manager capable of doing this as well, and thus, result. Who else has there been realistically, with the tactical mind to lead a team playing possession football to World Cup glory this decade? Basile didn't have the bottle, Scolari with Portugal didn't have a clue about defence - the names simply haven't been there.

  • Comment number 76.

    First things first, I love how respectful everybody is on this blog when compared with the disgraceful behaviour over on Phil McNulty's. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing with each other, but somebody isn't an imbecile because they display the antithetical viewpoint to you. Well done everybody.

    On another point, I agree wholeheartedly with everybody's comments on here - whilst we respect the well-drilled nature of the Brazilians, we can't help but want a bit of joga bonito.

    It's much like Chelsea in the mid-Noughties - everybody would claim they were boring as their victory parade rolled on and the resentment continues until today.

    Even as an Arsenal fan though, I couldn't help but admire their discipline, even if it did mean everybody emulated them and played 4-5-1 for a couple of seasons and stifled Arsenal's play. Much as I love flair and expression, there's something mesmerizing about watching eleven men all on the same page, rigidly working towards the same goal.

    The reason I love football is because there's many ways to win a game and playing 'boring' football yields results, something that shouldn't be baulked at.

    That said, (and I say this as a silverware-starved fan) there is more to football than just winning and for that reason I will be glory-supporting at the World Cup - not who wins, but whoever plays the sexiest football.

  • Comment number 77.

    Tim do you think anderson or the da silva twins could get a surprise call up to the WC squad, Fabio especially as LB?

  • Comment number 78.

    There is one point in the main article that I would like to pick up on and it concerns Fabiano dropping deep to bring the defenders out with him. Whilst I agree with this I believe it was more a symptom of the English system than Dunga's ingenuity.

    England’s two central midfielders played almost between the lines; neither with Gilberto Silva and Melo, or with Kaka and Fabiano. It was the lack of a 'holding' midfielder and an industrial 4-4-2 which forced the back for to become misshapen.

    I believe that the winner of this World Cup will be the most tactically fluid team. Being able to counteract the two banks of four will be one challenge and being defensively sound enough to withstand there varying attacking styles of Holland, Spain, Brazil or England.

    Barcelona are a case in point. They were defeated at home by Rubin and managed a draw in the return fixture. Rubin played very defensive and the passing brilliance of Barcelona could not break them down. The fixture with Inter Milan will decide their future in the competition and it will be about not conceding as much about scoring.

  • Comment number 79.

    I've been following the selecao for 32 years. My views on people's thoughts:

    True, the last free-flowing selecao was 82. Since 90, there has always been a certain pragmatism/ european influence to the team.

    But people are too simplistic, too black and white. Brazil are no longer total "magic" in every game, nor are they playing power-based/ imagineless/ effective football in every game as a lot of posts suggest. The answer lies somewhere in between, and has done for many years. They are still capable of awesome football, but probably on a less regular basis as european discipline has taken its hold.

    Dunga's team performances are not too far different from Scolari's or Zagallo's, and there have been occasional awesome displays from Dunga's team (2nd half of the confed cup final). It is interesting to note Dunga's attack/ attacking midfield is not too far off Parreira's confed winning team which was hailed at the time in 2005 (3/4 the same if you regard Fabiano as a replacent for Adriano).

    IMO, Dunga has created a very good team indeed - maybe the best Brazilian "team" I have seen for quite a while. He has sacrificed some individual talent for a balance (with potentially less gifted players in some positions).

    France outplayed Brasil last WC, mainly due to one thing - power (IMO that was more of an important factor than Zidane). Perhap's Dunga's team is an answer to that defeat.

    As Capello has said, they will be extremely difficult to beat next year.

  • Comment number 80.

    Arky_Aardvark i think your missing my point i aint stupid enough to think Gilberto Silva was in the same class as Platini. My point was whether you had Hoddle, Becham or any other player who had great vision as Tim himself says Fabiano kept coming deep so the chance to spray long balls was limited whether GS has it in his locker or not. Your next point I dont see Bolivia, Venezuela or Estonia reaching the latter stages of a world cup anytime soon do you? not conceding goals useless? concede no goals lose no games. The bulky burlesque Gilberto Silva does he not have a world cup winners medal and didn't he play for one of the best coaches in the modern game in Arsene Wenger who believed he was intelligent enough for his team. Without the Gilberto Silvas of the world doing the spade work the likes of Kaka are not half as effective. The present Brazil coach Dunga didn't do "tricks" but was a great player never the less. Try naming a great side that didn't have a strong defensive midfielder? imo you will struggle to name any as i believe they dont exist. Ignorant is expecting magic footballer after magic footballer to appear like they are being produced in a factory, and also believe world cups are won by playing expansive total football without the need of being able to defend well now thats ignorant.

  • Comment number 81.

    For once and for all, let's just squash this idea that there has been any Brazil side - or any side - better than the team of 1970. Forget the fact that they won all of their games. Disregard the wonderful strikes by Jairzinho, who scored in every game. Ignore the blistering pace and shooting ability of Rivelino. Forget the lethal elegance of Tostao, and the vision of Gerson.
    This team played the most wonderfully entertaining and intelligent football anyhere on the planet. I think it was their captain, the giant Carlos Alberto who, when asked what Brazil do when the opposition score, replied, 'we just go and score another goal.' Football really is this simple.
    Oh, and another player who deserves a mention - scored more than 1000 first class goals - what's his name? Ah. Pele.
    This team played the kind of football the rest of us can only dream about. We remember the goals they scored - Jairzinho's strike against England was the result of the finest build-up play I have ever seen - and the ones they missed - Pele's audacious volley against Czechoslovakia was pure genius, and what about that save by the world's best keeper, Gordon Banks?
    Most of all, they showed that football is a game, that it is supposed to be fun, that it should be entertaining. To those of us who were fortunate enough to witness this team at its peak, we look back in gratitude. Football has never been a more beautiful game.

  • Comment number 82.


    What about the finish in the Brasileiro? Three games to go and still 5 teams in with a shot although it's essentially a two horse race now between Sao Paulo and Flamengo. Palmeiras will probably come unstuck at Fortress Gremio on Wednesday and that should be them done. Atletico-MG surprisingly coming unstuck this weekend as well. Avai in with an outside chance of a Libertadores spot. And that's only at the top of the table.

    Look at the bottom, can Fred fire Fluminense to safety. Will Botafogo go down? Will Coritiba and Vitoria get dragged into the relegation issues. I can't wait for it all to unfold.

  • Comment number 83.

    Brazil would be totally different with Hernanes! He is a fantastic, exciting, two-footed midfield star. How he's not been picked up by a European team is a mystery. But he should not go to Barca Tim. Would be impossible to remove Xavi. Is there any talk of him getting in the world cup squad? Does the Brazilian press question Dunga on such issues? I was in Rio for four months earlier in the year and tried to watch some of their football shows but my Portuguese is too poor to understand much. Anyway they just talk about "Phenomenon" all the time! I also think Freddy at Fluminense should be considered along with Imperador ahead of Ronaldo. And why is Bruno not in the Brazil squad? i have never seen a keeper save so many pens.

    Tim can you write a piece on Riquelme, surly one of the most fascinating players of the last 20 years. Anyone who loves football most acknowledge his talents but can you please try explain his character. Is he as crazy as Maradona or just a bit of a baby? Why so many bust ups, retirements etc... He is the most graceful player i've ever seen. But he seems to be a complete idiot. Is this correct? Looks like he's going to join Ronaldo at Corinthians next year. Do you think it will be a success, or will he go crying back to Boca again. And finally from what I've read if he wanted too he could still play for Argentina if he wanted. (just needs to contact Diego) Do you think this is true? And what of his relationship with Messy, Veron (who he is clearly superior to) and Mascareno? Do you think he has fallen out of favor with his team mates. Strange, (if he has) as was the one who led them to the olympics success.

  • Comment number 84.

    A full Brazilian team met a reserve England team and could only win 1-0 a full England team would have easily beaten them without breaking sweat.
    I did not see a world cup winning Brazilian team on Saturday.

  • Comment number 85.

    Except from Robinho, who were the players missing that would create Brazil's strongest team!
    What has happened to Cicinho & Juninho Pernambuco & could Pato, Ronaldo & Adriano still get there?

    Could Argentina, under good management be dark horses! Surely a team with Aimar,Messi,Tevez & Aguero sound strong & what has happened to Riquelme & Saviola?

  • Comment number 86.

    i must say i luv the EPL but i cant see england winning the wc, wen is the last time engl beat a top side? let me answer germany how long now they r not good, am watching the EPL for about 15yrs now, the notional team neva live up to expectation & now is no different lets start with def, they cant beat a team with close skill, when clubs r playing in the cl i always pray they win to prove to ma frends its the best league in the world, am a manu fan but luv watching ars, cles mix pool boring cuz they only have two player sg & ft manc dnt have any fans in jamaica even here where am living in america i have neva seen a city fan, they r not gonna attract any top player not right now just players that is looking big money, they can out bid teams but if its up to the player they will neva get them,,

  • Comment number 87.

    Great post Tim.

    Will people ever get over the Brazil 70-82 sides? Can't people please stop going on and on about flair and jogo bonito? This is 2009 and football has changed. Brazil is now a pragmatic team and no one should expect to see a showdown on a FRIENDLY in the middle of nowhere where no one wants to get injured. Victory 1 x 0, tactics refined, job done.

    I guess everyone wants to see samba-style football, including myself, but results are far more important to Dunga and no one can really argue with him. But I don't find it ugly at all, it is still very much watchable.

    The Brazilian side still has deficiencies and the team who manage to explore them has a great chance to win the WC. England is far too scared of Brazil as we just witnessed so I list the big old enemies as possible contenders: France and Argentina. Old dogs, but very dangerous ones.

  • Comment number 88.

    I'm actually a Brazilian living in the USA who LOVES English football, and routes for England (when not playing against Brazil).

    With that said, you must give credit to England, as they are very fast and strong especially getting back on defense(No matter if they had a third team), and they didn't let the Brazilians have a field day. England is NOT so simple to break down no matter who is on the pitch.

    Yes, England was out matched, but it wasn't "SO" bad. They were outmatched technically, but not mentally or physically (except for Brown). With Lampard, Gerrard, and Walcott etc, it could have been much different, because these guys bring the SKILL and technical ability into the play, which lacked. However, I'm sure BRazil tactics would change if Gerrard was playing. You must be happy it wasn't 3-0, like against Italy!

    Brazil can NOT play like 82/86 world cup teams, so don't even say that. Our players come to Europe at 15 years old, and they lose special developmental years. Yes, they learn "other" important things, but those years from 15-25 are very instrumental in a players future maturity. Also, Brazil can NOT play all out attack, or jogo bonito (like before) because teams are stronger then in the past and are able DEFEND against the ONE VS ONE dribble. Therefore, diagonals and smart running must be implemented. Today Brazil depends more on the entire team in helping out.

    This is the modern game, and it has become a physical YET mental JOGO.

    If you notice the Americans, are in great shape, but they have NO HEAD, so by the end of the game they are tired. So fitness and mental is the way to go. We also must remember it is not always 11 AWESOME players who win..look at 82/86 world Cup's. We had the best teams but lost. So who cares, about them. They are known as a losing generation just like Spain and Portugal in the 90's. Figo, Jorge Henrique, Del a Pena, Pinto etc..

  • Comment number 89.

    Football cannot be played entirely in the purist sense nowadays, it isn't viable. You have to look at Spain's record prior to the Euros to get what I am saying, they were still playing the same kind of football that largely relies on passing the opponents out of the game and as a result they had come to be called the chokers of European football. Spain wins the Euro 2008 and from the reaction you may think that they have won the past 5 consecutive Euros. They went through their campaign smoothly, but that is also true of their qualification campaigns in the previous years that they have choked. After their dismal performance in South Africa where they were bundled out by the USA and barely managed to beat South Africa it is clear that they can be contained. And for all the beautiful soccer that Barca plays, please remember that they were almost bundled out by Chelsea last year and have been bundled out by Liverpool and Manchester United sides that were playing pragmatic football in the seasons before that.

    As someone has said before, Brazilian football is not the free flowing type of 1982 and neither is it Bolton as some are making it out to be.

  • Comment number 90.

    Tim, when is the bad Argentinian and the great Colombian performance from the under 17 world cup getting mentioned? Or how about some star searching in the current south american under 15s championship?
    It would be interesting if you did this next week, as Colombia have always been a potent side internationally in under 20 and under 17 level, yet their performance was pretty lucky given that they played very disorganized and stellar performances from players like Cuero and Arias saved them.

  • Comment number 91.

    So I've seen lot's of comments that goes along the lines "We were understrength. If we had Lampard and Gerrard we would have massacred." and I got to answer that Brazil isn't the best footballing nation(we're ranked number one, so forget saying otherwise) because we barely win small countries(we couldn't win against Bolivia at home) but because we beat all the big ones with style.

    England played bad and Brazil was superior. Had England played well, Brazil would have done better. Why? Because we can't play against teams that can't attack, that won't open. Nobody can nowadays.

    About Silva, I can't see why we're to have creative defensive midfielders when NOBODY has them. Okay, Spain has Xabi Alonso, but how good are them with him in the place of Marcos Senna? No better than USA judging by the Confederations Cup.

    This is football today. Pragmatic? I don't really see why Brazil is classed as that nowadays.

  • Comment number 92.

    Mr. Vickery,

    For years the Brazilian league has seen its most promising sons poached away from its cradle by European giants. The Brazilian clubs receive considerable amounts of transfer fees in return, but lose inimitable talents along with their golden dusts they used to sprinkle about in Brazilian football. This season, a band of several used-to-be players from Europe have returned home, seeking rest and recovery. (Ronaldo, Fred, Vagner Love, Adriano etc.) And these players slowly but surely seem to be picking up their old forms again. From the reactions of the Brazilian fans, one could also say that this return has definitely sprayed an air of excitement all around.

    From the perspective of the players who get scouted and the scouting European teams, it's pretty much a win-win situation.The flavour that this adds to the European game is considerably delightful. This is, nevertheless just another evidence pointing at the unfortunate fact that finance is a crucial factor if one were to compete at top level football. Do you think this style of football is healthy for the Brazilian league? And what kind of impacts does this have on the Brazilian national team?

  • Comment number 93.

    I'm getting the feeling that Tim Vickery is slowly coming round to Dunga's way of doing things.

  • Comment number 94.

    Dear Tim,
    A wonderful piece. I have been looking forward to your very well written blogs and this one is no exception. '

    While I like the point about Louis Fabiano dropping deep, I dont necessarily think this is unusual for Brazilian football of recent. What i think is very interesting and worth talking about is the strength of Brazil's midfield with so attacking minded players who have made the presence of Gilberto Silva so neccessary.

    That the Brazilian defense is their Achilles' heel is not new. But what is new-ish is that any team will have to get through a very well guarded midfield able to counter in seconds. I think that the Brazilian midfield is now so strong that teams like England try to bypass it with long balls which as we say on Saturday did not work.

    The key to Zidane's France was indeed as you say Zidane who was able enough to stand to the midfield and outclass them, at times with long balls to the wingers.

    I think the strength of the midfield rather than their attack or their'bombing' full backs such as Maicon or traditionally R. Carlos makes the difference. It is in controlling as much as possible the likes of Kaka and/or Robinho and dominating the midfield that Brazil can be defeated.

    I wonder whether the inclusion of Gerrard, Lampard and J Cole, with the full assurance of Gareth Barry at the back and with faster and more capable wingers such as Jonson and Lennon can win the midfield battle?


  • Comment number 95.

    #76 Emekaisyourfriend. I guess you have a team to support at the WC 2010 now that Nigeria narrowly qualified, can't understand how people easily forget there roots.

  • Comment number 96.

    Tim - Unrelated to above topic, I would - as a Spurs fan - like to know your thoughts on Sandro, he is reported to have signed or almost signed with us and I and many other Spurs fans know nothing about him. If you could shed some light on what kind of player, is he any good, do you think he'd be a good signing? Also could cut it in the Prem? Thanks

  • Comment number 97.

    Great blog as always Tim.

    Reading some of the comments today, I think people need to wake up to reality; Brazil soon realised after 1982 that the game has moved on. As much as we'd all like to see the glory days of football back, when players were not so much athletes as artists, with all the time and space in the world to craft their magic, the truth is that this no longer exists. Players are now always pressed and harried all over the pitch and have little time or space on the ball.

    To counter this, Brazil decided to exploit the sides of the pitch as the centre was too crowded. As a consequence, they couldn't leave the centre of the pitch open, so they had to resort to the current tactics of using defensive athletes in the centre to keep the team's balance. Like Tim says, football is a language of many accents. All Brazil has done is move with the times, and evolved. The reality is that no-one can play the romantic football of the 70s-80s anymore in international football and be successful.

    It may be that in the future someone will come up with a tactic to nullify Brazil's attacking down the flanks (we may be close to that point as Tim points out with Brazil's struggles against teams that pack their own half), at which point they'll have to be innovative again and think up a different solution, but until then the current trend will continue.

  • Comment number 98.

    Also, in addition to my previous point, Dunga realises that because the field is now so compact, the greatest chances of creating space and scoring against any opposition comes in the form of the counter-attack, where a team has committed forward and is caught by a swift, efficient move upfield. Dunga is a clever man.

  • Comment number 99.

    @ #95

    If you're suggesting that I have forgotten my roots because my allegiances might lay elsewhere, let me tell you, I support football first and everything else second. The irrational coincidence of my parents' birthplace doesn't affect who I follow and neither do I think it should.

    Further, if Nigeria play some nice football next year, I'll happily support them. Until then, I repeat my assertion that I will support the sexiest teams next year, because I want to see sexy football.

  • Comment number 100.

    Thanks for sharing this information.
    academic papers | Essay writing | Term Paper writing


Page 1 of 2

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.