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Brazilian league lacks bite

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Tim Vickery | 08:44 UK time, Monday, 19 July 2010

Spain or Barcelona? No contest. Week in, week out, Barcelona combine the midfield interplay of Xavi and Iniesta with the cutting edge of Lionel Messi, Daniel Alves and co.

The comparison serves to confirm the impression that these days club football is of a much higher standard than international - as long as we restrict the debate to the major European leagues.

The big clubs in Spain, England, Italy and Germany are in front of the national teams because of the time their players spend together and because they count on the best talent from all over the planet. When the World Cup stops and domestic football returns, the level of play goes up.

In South America, things are different. the Brazilian Championship, almost certainly the strongest in the continent, resumed last Wednesday after a break to accommodate events in South Africa.

In Rio, there was a local derby between Flamengo and Botafogo, with a few vuvuzelas around to remind everyone that the Maracana will host the next World Cup final in 2014.

But the expression flying around the press box inside the stadium was "reality shock". After the drama of the previous few weeks, this game, played out in front of just 20,073 spectators, was a sorry comedown.

There are extenuating circumstances. Flamengo fans have seen the image of their club dragged through the mud thanks to the involvement of Bruno, their captain and goalkeeper, in a murder investigation. Heavy rain also kept thousands of supporters at home - in addition to making the pitch difficult to play on.

Even allowing for such considerations, the game lacked the sense of occasion that you expect from such an event, while the number of misplaced passes made for a poor spectacle. The most lucid passer of the ball was Dejan Petkovic, a Serbian not far short of his 38th birthday. He helped set up the only goal of the match.

Dejan Petkovic (left) playing for FlamengoVeteran Dejan Petkovic has established himself as a star in Brazilian football - photo: Getty

The match, which took place just three days after the World Cup came to a close, was not a fair reflection of the domestic Brazilian game. Sunday's match between Santos and Fluminense, for example, was much better.

Santos piled on the pressure, Fluminense held on and scored with a late breakaway. It was enthralling stuff, which also served as a reminder of one of the best reasons to follow South American club football - the chance to have an early look at a future star.

In mid-table after nine rounds of the championship, Santos might be disappointing their admirers but they are a very attractive side to watch. Unlike many Brazilian teams, their attacking play is not dependent on forward bursts from the full-backs. They are more fluid than that, with the central midfielders able to make an attacking contribution.

The headlines, though, go to two young players of extraordinary promise - playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso, 20, and support striker Neymar, 18. This year, the pair have overshadowed Robinho, back on loan from Manchester City, and were tipped by many to make Dunga's World Cup squad.

And this is where the danger lies.

The example of Petkovic illustrates the pitfall. At his advanced age, he is one of the top playmakers in Brazilian football. Even in his prime, he was unable to make such a mark in Europe. It has become relatively easy to build up a reputation in domestic South American football. The pace of the game is slower, there is more time and space available and, especially in Brazil, referees give fouls for the slightest contact.

Ganso and Neymar are being told that they are footballing phenomena. Yet when they make the move to Europe, they are likely to experience their own kind of "reality shock".

That is certainly what happened to Robinho. When he was first making his name with Santos, he kept being told he was a genius. One pundit, the former World Cup striker Casagrande, used to argue that he was going to be better than Diego Maradona. It was just a matter of time before he received the Fifa World Player of the Year award.

But in European club football, the game is faster, the standard is higher and going to ground does not automatically gain a free kick. Making his mark at the top level has proved much harder than Robinho was lead to believe.

And these years later, he still seems unable to reconcile himself to this. For all his talent, his head drops when confronted with difficulty. This is not entirely his fault. The blame should be shared with those who failed to prepare him for the challenge.

There is a danger that the same thing might happen to Ganso and Neymar. Both seemed to think that, based on form in a semi-serious Sao Paulo State Championship, they had earned the right to go to the World Cup.

But just a few months before the showpiece in South Africa, Neymar flopped at the Under-17 World Cup and Ganso fell short of expectations at Under-20 level.

A little humility would have been welcome but it is unlikely to come easily from talented youngsters who are forever being told how great they are. And there are plenty of people with an interest in piling on the praise - the clubs need idols, the media needs stars, agents need hot properties.

One of the big successes of last season was Inter Milan's Argentine striker Diego Milito. In retrospect, it seems clear that he has benefited from being a late developer. When he was 20, no-one was spoiling him by telling him he was the finished article. Deco, the Brazilian who plays for Portugal, is another example.

If a youngster is hyped too soon, there is always the risk he will suffer a reality shock when he steps up his career.

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

From last week's postbag:

Q) I'm interested in how you think Mauro Boselli will do in the Premier League for my team Wigan Athletic next season. In the clips I've seen of him on, he looks pretty good but many a player has looked good from their goal clips and turned out to be poor.
John Lowe

A) I'll be happy to be proved wrong but I'll be surprised if he's a success. He's an out-and-out goalscorer - he doesn't offer anything outside the penalty area. I suppose you might compare him to Miroslav Klose in a way - not particularly big, strong or skilful but he has that penalty area nose.

With Estudiantes, Boselli was playing in front of the best midfield in South America. So there were lots of chances, he put a few away and his confidence soared. He is now in a much stronger league but not one of the strongest teams. He might struggle - and if he's not scoring, he doesn't do much else.

Q) It has been reported that the Colombian Federation is open to a World Cup bid in 2026 that would also include Ecuador and Peru. I believe, if Fifa really did have the best interest of sharing the experience of the World Cup to everyone, it would make more sense to seriously consider this treble bid. After all, wouldn't it mean more to more South Americans if the World Cup were taking place in three different countries?
Diego Pestana

I think this is a non-starter - and not just because of Conmebol (the South American Football Confederation) is offering its support for an Argentina/Uruguay centenary World Cup in 2030.

Think of the complication in qualification. As hosts, three South Americans would qualify automatically. The other seven nations would want to go but how many spaces would they get? This proposal has come from Peru but doesn't make sense from a Colombian point of view. Colombia does not need Ecuador and Peru - it can do it alone.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Hmm.. well, yes and no. I see what you are saying but Robinho still outshone any England players at the World Cup. So even though they are over-hyped on the basis of strong performances in a weak(ish) league, they still have the class to become a very good player and shine on the WC stage.

    More worrying for Brazil must be the state of that league. If that Serbian chap can do so well - the overall standard of the league must be pretty poor. Surely that will slowly affect the quality of the Brazil national side?

  • Comment number 2.

    2nd! Several interesting points made. Another very good blog tim, so much better than other bbc bloggers who offer very little insight or analysis.

  • Comment number 3.

    The league is good, pace is fast and the Serbian guy is just re-living his youth:) You have to throw this question back at the MLS. If they want to be taken seriously, they have to join the Copa Libertadores where they will become men overnight.

  • Comment number 4.

    Rooney would be a clear example from England, not just on his England performances either. Obviously he had a great season last season, scoring a lot of goals. But I still don't think he's become the player he promised to be when he first came on to the scene.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Tim

    Can you tell me where you think Riquelme will end up playing? do you think he will head to Brasil?

  • Comment number 6.

    What the hell are you talking about...Robinho is world Santos he won the league title and he won back to back la ligas at REAL MADRID - a club in Europe, and not only that, Robinho was a crucial component of that team that won the la liga along with Beckham and V.Nistlerooy....Robinho was also named man of the match in the El Classico against Barcelona...At Man City he was their top scorer in his 1st season with 15 goals including that goal of the season against Arsenal. The only reason he flopped at city the second season is because 1st injuries and 2nd he realised he was at a loser club...4 Brazil he is a starter and key player to the brazilian national team. Your judging Robinho only on his poor 2nd season with City!! BE REALISTIC!

  • Comment number 7.

    Tim, I disagree completely on Ganso. Sure, Santos made their name partially through hammering easy opponents with results like 6-0 and 8-1, but who else did this in Brazil in the last 15 years?

    The last team to did that was Palmeiras in 1996, and their star midfield playmaker was a guy named Rivaldo. Not saying he will be elected best player in the world one day, but by the way you talk, it seems like the kind of football Santos play is usual and teams defeating weaker opponents in state championships by hockey scores happens all the time.

    And you didn't mentioned in the article that during their run they humiliated Sao Paulo, a Libertadores semi-finalists, and are in the final of the Brazilian Cup, defeating strong teams like Gremio and Atletico Mineiro.

    If that's not strong indicative of talent, then you're saying that any game in South American football isn't.

    And the u-20 championship was in October. So answer this:

    Do you really think if the World Cup was in October, Thomas Muller would end up winning the Golden Ball and Pedro would end up in Spain's starting XI in the World Cup final?

    Obviously not, they wouldn't even have been called up to the WC. But for a young player, 6 months can make all the difference in the world. Dunga's refusal to acknowledge this and expand his team's options a little were a symptom of his stubborness and refusal to see the obvious that ultimately cost Brazil the World Cup.

    As for Petkovic, he stayed in Brazil while he was younger mostly because of his own choice. In the early 2000s, he was one of the main stars in a league that included Romario, Juninho Pernambucano, and 13 2002 World Cup winners. If he was Brazilian, he certainly could have made the 2002 World Cup team, if the likes of Denilson, Vampeta, Ricardinho and 20-year-old Kaka (at the time, an inferior player to him) did.

    Surely, today he wouldn't play in a big league in Europe, but good for us that he still has some space to play.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi Tim. I disagree with Deco and Milito being late developers. They are both class but not world class players. Deco joined barcelona aged 26/27 having played top class CL and UEFA cup football since the age of 21/22 at Porto. Milito is hardly blooming, just scoring a steady amount of goals as a central striker in a team that creates a lot of chances. He works very hard but without any immaculate innate ability. He is very similar to Ivica Olic of Bayern.

    They are more examples of players who, if you work hard enough will earn a top class move, but will never be the star of that team. Both have also provided little inspiration on the international scene.

    If you are good enough, you will get talked up from an early age as natural talent is easy to spot. The key to great players is having that talent, and then having the desire and aptitude to go and do it at the highest level. For every ten Hugo Vianas and Nii Lampteys you will get a Zidane, a Figo, a Ronaldo.

  • Comment number 9.

    I wonder if the likes of returning stars such as Deco and Belletti will add any real value to the league?

  • Comment number 10.

    "A little humility would have been welcome but it is unlikely to come easily from talented youngsters who are forever being told how great they are. And there are plenty of people with an interest in piling on the praise - the clubs need idols, the media needs stars, agents need hot properties."

    this is true in Europe too. I could take many examples, but I'll pick on Jermaine Pennant as he is the one that popped into my head first. Too much too soon, and young players think that they will walk into the top sides, and when they don't they lash out, or just go down the disco-pants path and their careers are still-born. In the end, they become journeyment to an extent, as manager after manager takes a punt on being the one that unlocks the talent and gets them to buckle down.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'd love to know your take on Sandro... spurs new midfielder. From what I hear he's a strong box to box player, but it would be nice to hear someones opinion who isn't a spurs fan.



  • Comment number 12.

    Tim, you also hasn't mentioned the most obvious reason for such a disappointing attendance at Flamengo x Botafogo: the game was set 3 days after the World Cup final, and who's in the mood for league football so shortly afterwards?

    Even Corinthians, who's leading the league, saw only 22.000 fans in a game that was Sunday, at 16:00. The championship shouldn't have started again so soon.

  • Comment number 13.

    Interesting article. I recall the Chilean Matias Fernandez a few years ago, winning South American player of the year and being tipped to become the next global superstar. Then he went from Colo Colo in the slow Chilean league to Villarreal in Spain's Primera Liga. The result?, he failed miserably and continues to fail in Portugal these days.

    Many players from slow tempo leagues in South America first make the move to the Argentinian league, which being much stronger and faster, helps them develop that side of their game so by the time they move to Europe, the "reality shock" is not such a big factor.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Tim, thanks for the post. Just a couple of questions/comments about young players from brazil or south america in general. Are there any other young Brazilians besides Ganso and Neymar who would be likely to head to Europe? Have heard of Dentinho being a promising prospect, how is he viewed in Brazil?

    Think it's interesting how some players careers stall before they get going after a move to europe. douglas costa (never really hear of him now hes in ukraine), keirrison, rafael sobis, denilson, robinho, are some examples. Maybe its a little unfair to use them as examples as some are still young and careers are only starting, but it does seem to be an issue for talented young players failing to settle or perform etc as you stated.

    Which leads me to my main question, what players in your opinion who you would describe as experienced in their domestic leagues in south america but havent ventured to europe would be most suited or successful to make the switch? Just asking that as we usually hear about wonderkids and upcoming talents more often than the more seasoned players in the continent.

  • Comment number 15.

    Not quite sure of the point being made here. The Premier League has plenty of teams who would struggle in the top leagues of any other of the top countries. How many do you think will turn up to watch Wigan play Blackpool? And what do you think the quality of the football on display will be? (These are rhetorical questions!)

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi Tim...good blog, but you are being a little disingenous to call the Flamengo v Botofogo game a local derby. There simply isnt the hatred (or indeed history) there that a Fla-Flu or Fla-Vasco derby has. Either of these "real" derbies would have garnered a lot more fans imo.

  • Comment number 17.

    Thanks for the post, but feel it is a bit downbeat on Brazilian Football. I enjoy the Brazilian football I watch and find it very entertaining and quite unpredictable, which unfortunately does not apply to most top European leagues games. I agree that the quality is not as high in Brazil, but I think most Brazilian league players could do a competent job in some of the top leagues in Europe. I think Robinho is a class player, just very immature. I do think Neymar could be a top player in Europe, it is just unfortunate the way the system is set up. Neymar will most likely move at some point for big money and with that comes big expectations and that is what will make or break his career. If he were given time to adjust in Europe then it will pay dividends for some club, however, football in Europe, especially in the UK is very fickle and he like many others will get written off as a flop if he does not come in and score 20 plus goals in his first season. My advice to any budding Brazilian would be to stay at home and enjoy your football, football in Europe is overrated and if your not playing for one of the top sides in Europe the change of any silverware is very slim.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hope this comes as a timely wake-up call for those two hugely promising players. Ganso is surprisingly mature for his age, and therefore closer to being ready for the transition, while Neymar needs at least another season with Santos (ideally, both would get some Libertadores experience before making the move to Europe). But the entire Santos team looks as if it hasn't woken up yet from the WC lay-off, and isn't playing with its previous joy. I'm sure this is the result of a combination of pressure from constant demands to produce, on the one hand, and from all the transfer talk (perhaps fueled by greedy parents who want to get onto the European gravy train asap), which must be affecting the entire club, not just those two (along with doubts over Robinho's future and Europeans after Wesley also).
    As for the 'supposed' MC flops, both Elano and Robinho had outstanding seasons when they first joined the club, but changes in ownership and management reverberated strongly through the club, and the Brazilians may have been especially sensitive to the club atmosphere, but I also see internal problems as responsible for the drop in form of Gerrard, Torres and Carragher at Liverpool. And who knows why the joy seemed to go out of Ronaldinho's play, too? Robinho recaptured, at least momentarily, his own joy in the game, with a move back to his roots, so perhaps Ronaldinho can achieve the same. Oh, but then there's the money issue. Brazil still cannot compete with Europe in that area, and probably shouldn't try. The obscene differences in player income - from that of the ordinary population - in Europe would be nothing short of outrageous in the Latin American context.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well actualy the Brazilian league is one of the best in the Americas.
    I have watched Brazilian football league and it's a bit of La Liga and the French league. The talen coming out of the Americas has improved over the years and thats about over 200 brazilian players that have come out to play in Europe and everywhere else. Shocking report

  • Comment number 20.

    Not too sure about the post describing Robinho as world class, he blew hot and cold for city, and I don't think he was ever an absolute first choice at Madrid. The world cup for me backs up Tim's view on him. He did some great things but when it got tough against Holland he did not step up.

  • Comment number 21.

    1. At 10:42am on 19 Jul 2010, The Midland 20 wrote:
    Hmm.. well, yes and no. I see what you are saying but Robinho still outshone any England players at the World Cup. So even though they are over-hyped on the basis of strong performances in a weak(ish) league, they still have the class to become a very good player and shine on the WC stage.

    More worrying for Brazil must be the state of that league. If that Serbian chap can do so well - the overall standard of the league must be pretty poor. Surely that will slowly affect the quality of the Brazil national side?


    No, the national side will not suffer because Brazil always export their best players. The best young talents are snapped up by the leading clubs in Spain, Italy, and also France, Germany and some leading Eastern European clubs these days.

  • Comment number 22.

    20. At 12:31pm on 19 Jul 2010, matmat69 wrote:
    Not too sure about the post describing Robinho as world class, he blew hot and cold for city, and I don't think he was ever an absolute first choice at Madrid. The world cup for me backs up Tim's view on him. He did some great things but when it got tough against Holland he did not step up.

    I think Robinho has world class 'talent', like many big name players there is massive expectation on him, often to do it all on his own sometimes. It's a little unfair.

    Also I wouldn't say that he was a disappointment at Real Madrid. Real Madrid chews players up and spits them out sometimes. Once a new president comes in with a new plan and wants new Galacticos, the old stars have to make way. That's what happened with Robinho, Sneijder, Robben at Real when Florentino Perez came back and bought Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema. The so-called 'flops' are perfectly good players, they are just victims of player politics and the new star revolving door policy a club like Real has.

  • Comment number 23.

    @1: "More worrying for Brazil must be the state of that league. If that Serbian chap can do so well - the overall standard of the league must be pretty poor. Surely that will slowly affect the quality of the Brazil national side?"

    Not likely. The only reason the league is poor is because all the best players are exported. If you look at the nationalities of starters for the 32 teams in the group stages of the Champion's League, you'll find there are more considerably more Brazilians than any other nationality. Just think how many Brazilians resort to being nationalised in other countries to play international football.

  • Comment number 24.

    Yet another interesting article Tim - this kind of thing is what makes the BBC great. I hope the Conservative-Murdoch alliance's efforts to weaken the quality of material will fail.

    I find it fascinating that a Serbian has flourished in the Brasilian league; I always assumed that it was full of brilliant Brasilian ingenues, old-timers and continental journeymen.

    I'd love to read more about any other unusual memebers of the league, such as other Europeans, Asians and Africans in the South American leagues. What do the locals feel about foreigners?
    Another question - do Argentinians follow the Brasil league and vice versa? Despite Sky's relentless hype I think there is an increasing realisation that the English league, depsite its many qualities, doesn't provide everything that footy has to offer and I wondered if this was the same across the Atlantic.

  • Comment number 25.


    I always find your blogs a good read, at least the BBC still has one blogger who can provide a bit of insight and reasoned analysis.

    Having said that, as a previous poster mentioned I wonder how many people will turn up for Wigan vs Blackpool...

    Robinho still seems to have great ability, but you wonder if the desire is really there. He will be a very wealthy young man, far more so than most of the people in his country, the only thing that can motivate him would be the desire to succeed. At City it appeared at times that he just didn't want to be there, maybe he was frustrated that the side didn't progress as he would have hoped.

    Hopefully the likes of Neymar wont have too much pressure placed on them and will be allowed to develop, however that is unlikely. The same is true in all footballing nations, look at the pressure that was on Wayne Rooney, there was already massive hype before he'd even pulled on the Everton shirt and scored that goal against Arsenal.

  • Comment number 26.

    One thing this article highlights is that promising flair players don't always reach their potential when they move to clubs in European leagues. I wonder though if there's a better record for South American defenders making the grade? Players like Roberto Carlos, Montero, Cafu, Zanetti, Lucio, etc, have done very well despite having to step up to a higher standard of football.

    And on that point, I was hugely impressed with Paraguay's defending during the World Cup. I know they have a history of producing good defenders and think Wigan may have done good business in snapping up Alcarez. Da Silva was also one of the outstanding centre backs on show and it'll be interesting to see if he can establish himself at Sunderland this season.

  • Comment number 27.

    Re #11

    Nice one Steve! Do you not know that Mr Vickery is a Spurs fan!?

    However, I know he'll give you a subjective view on the player and I don't think he's changed his opinion that he'll struggle to break into the Spurs team straightaway.

    Correct if I'm wrong Tim.

  • Comment number 28.

    Not sure about 2026 triple bid of Ecuador, Peru and Colombia because as stated 3 automatic qualifiers is tricky - not to mention would you seed all of them leading to groups of death with matches like Brazil vs Italy and Spain vs Argentina. Probably a step too far. Maybe 1 or 2 host countries is the best.

    However I will be surprised if FIFA give Colombia the world cup. No sooner do they do it than you can just imagine the Colombian drug gangs all meeting the next day to discuss who to kidnap.

    Argentina/Uruguay 2030 looks good to me. I also doubt that FIFA will let
    South America get the world cup in 2026 after having it in 2014 it will be a touch too soon as they rotate it between the regions. Speculating a bit here but I can see it going Brazil 2014, England 2018, Australia 2022, Asia? 2026?, South America 2030.

  • Comment number 29.

    Promising players have to deal with hype, regardless of where they come from. In Robinho's case, he plays for himself rather than the team.

    Agree about the standard of football. The European Champions League is at a higher level than the World Cup. I commented on this just before the tournament.

  • Comment number 30.


    do you think its time for some western tv stations to introduce South American football to the UK, as i feel after the World Cup they're may be an audience for it ans Germany apart, the South Americans produced the best attacking mentality in the tournament. Also do you think that Argentina can improve tactically in the next 4 years and maybe give us a classic Brazil v Argentina final in 2014?

  • Comment number 31.

    Tim are you comparing the Brazilian League against the Spanish League or is it the Brazillian League against all European leagues? If its the latter then i'm sorry it is very wrong for you to compare a single country against a continent and moreso a developing country against developed countries. Your comments would be said to be very impartial, flawed, and not wortt the space its published on

  • Comment number 32.

    Tim, I question your accuracy of reporting from SA. Anybody with decent knowledge of this continent would disagree with a lot of your opinions. You stuck by your support of Dunga's Result ahead of performance methodology, suggesting that this was the best way for Brazil to be a success. Anybody in touch with the Brazilian public would have known how much he was out of touch with the footballing philosophy of his homeland.

    Ronaldinho you may argue is past his best...but so surely is Gilberto...past a much worse best. Melo is an abomonation to the Brazilian name, and Fabiano has never, and will never be a World Class striker. Kaka was jaded yet there was no plan B. In fact plan A was so flawed their demise was inevitable.

    I advised people to look out for Urugauay in the tournament in past blogs, suggesting they would reach the Semi-finals. It was evident that they had the ingredients to go all the way under a magnificent international coach.

    You alienate readers by suggesting Augustin (Tin) Delgado was in fact a top class player, and tend to focus upon the weaknesses within young South American Talent instead of providing insight into their strangths.

    Just here, you belittle the ability of Petkovic as well as undermining the league he plays in. Is he possibly just the right player at the right club? Real Madrid were hardly ever going to afford him the freedom of the main play maker during his time there. Mikel Arteta could not cut his best at Real Sociedad but instead excels in just as tough a league at Everton.

  • Comment number 33.


    In relation to your article on young Brazilians prematurely moving to the big time in Europe, what do you make of Keirrison's seemingly faultering young career?

    After his goalscoring exploits in Serie A followed by a dream move to Barcelona, I see he is now back in Brazil on loan at Santos (after other failed loans spells at Benfica and Fiorentina). Does he have a future at the Camp Nou or is it another case of too much, too soon?

  • Comment number 34.

    What I think is happening is that while Robinho (and also his former partner in crime, Diego) are can't miss prospects in Brazil, in Europe, the true reality shock is that European clubs prefer bigger players, even the one you pointed out, Milito is a tall striker. Diego's recent European pit-stop at Juventus illustrates this point, he scored one goal and then disappeared from view. Robinho for all his dribbling ability is not the player European clubs crave for, it's still the big striker Ronaldo, Luis Fabiano & even Adriano who despite his drug woes, is getting another opportunity in Europe.

    BTW since you brought up the Brazilian league, what's going on with Diego Souza, he was the man at Palmeiras, I was surprised he took his dog & pony show to Atletico Mineiro... With Tardelli already in the fold, the Belo Horizonte outfit should have the most lethal striker partnership in the Brazilian Serie A, but I doubt Luxemburgo's wishy-washy approach will make any proper usage of that situation, so far he's used Souza as a sub. Wondering what your opinion on Atletico Mineiro is?

  • Comment number 35.

    At 34. I'm not sure I agree with your comment that European teams want physically big strikers and nothing more from South America.

    Diego did very well at Werder Bremen before he went to Juventus. Juventus was a club that had a lot of problems last season, so I'm not sure we can relate Diego's underwhelming first season as the major factor, there were others.

    What about Messi at Barcelona as well?

  • Comment number 36.

    Surely to say Brazil League lacks bite i truly dissagree. I watch almost every league games due to my gambling addiction. To be honest thts your own opinion. The talent i see in Brazil leagues is amazing. Buy talent i mean the number of local players playing in the league, you cant compare that with PL. Take away all the Foreign stars in PL and it will be nothing. I will love you to give me local english player so gifted will skill and talent. You will have to scratch your head to find one. But in brazil its not the case, football in that country is played with passion not mainly about £££ like here in PL. The love thier football so much. If you have to choose two local based national teams you will have loads to chose in Brazil while you will struggle chosing talented players in England. MAYBE YOU CAN SAY THE LEAGUE LACKS MONEY TO HAVE THAT BUZZ, BUT SURELY WHEN WE TALK TALENT, THEY WILL PISS ON OUR ENGLAND

  • Comment number 37.

    I think using Petkovic to demonstrate that the Brazilian league is weak is a weak comparassion.

    Petkovic has been shining in the brazilian league for 12 years already. Many brazilian superstars came and went to europe all that time, and Petkovic was playing better than they were all this time.

    Oh, so he did well in Brazil but not in europe. So that must mean the brazilian league is poor. WTF? There are players who do well in England but do poor in Italy. Does that means Italian league is better? There are players who were NOONES in Brazil and became stars in europe! That surely must mean something!

    While some players do well in Brazil when they return from europe, others DO NOT.

    The argie Maxi Lopez did moderately well in Grêmio (Grêmio fans are much happier about Borges this year than about Maxi Lopez last year). But Maxi Lopez is now having much more success in Italy! That must mean something too.

  • Comment number 38.

    @El Presidente: "Diego's recent European pit-stop at Juventus illustrates this point, he scored one goal and then disappeared from view"

    Well, Diego was at Werder Bremen before. And did well.

    @DouglasRinaldi: dont forget Keirrison had already failed in Brazil itself. He did well in ONE team in ONE season... Coritiba. When he moved to Palmeiras, he already underperformed. If I am not mistaken, he was bought by Traffic, a investors company and brought to Palmeiras. To not lose money, they sold him to Europe as hot stuff.

  • Comment number 39.

    @CDC: Premier League is overhyped. Its not much followed in Brazil and personally, I find it very boring.

  • Comment number 40.

    @33 - Strangely, I see Keirrison being something like a Diego Milito type player but *with* the hype at a young age. He's a finisher and a goal-hanger. Those type of players rarely hit the ground running in their early twenties. No shame in him staying in Brazil for three of four years and coming back to Europe, older and wiser. It worked for Luis Fabiano.

  • Comment number 41.

    nice article
    in robinhos case i just got the impression whenever he played for mancity that he thought he was so good that he could play at 50% and still beat the defenders, hes got the ability no doubt just a weak mentality

  • Comment number 42.

    good blog, very interesting read. its one of the most hit or miss things ever, buying a hot talent from south america, as the football and conditions are very different to england, and much of europe. can european teams take these guys on loan for a year before buying? it seems to me that would be the best option, a try before you buy? at least then you can see how your 19 year old 'wonderkid' reacts to the prem before you wasted 15 million and he cant cut it.

  • Comment number 43.

    @39 You may not like it, but the PL is the most watched foreign league in Brazil.

    Since is on cable, the majority of the population don't follow it on a regular basis, but on ESPN - were you can watch the PL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A (ITA), and the Dutch and Russian leagues - the EPL is the most watched.

  • Comment number 44.

    Good blog, but no player ever kives up to their hype. That's why it is hype not a real description.

  • Comment number 45.

    I disagree that Colombia could 'go it alone' and organize a World Cup. They failed in 1986 after the Championships had been awared to them and there were less teams taking part than of now. Can Colombia really provide 10 top class stadiums and then find ways to use these stadiums after the World Cup is over? The best bet these days, unless it's
    Germany, France or England hosting (masses of stadiums), is for two countries to share and have 5 stadiums each, which can then be used after the tournament is over. South Africa is now left with stadiums and no-one knows what to do them them. There is even talk of pulling 1-2 down already.

  • Comment number 46.

    It's not quite fair to compare Ganso with Neymar. Different players, age, and mentalities. Despite all his talent, I think Neymar has a lot of red flags, and I question whether he will ever put it all together -- he reminds me a lot of Balotelli to be honest. It's the attitude more than anything else. But I think a player like Ganso exhibits more maturity, both due to his age as well as his position, which I think requires that mentality. Neymar was expected to be the guy on the U17 team, and he failed. The entire team failed as we all know. With respect to the U20 team, I don't really know if Ganso was ever really expected to be a big contributor. That U20 was very very good, despite losing in the final and Ganso, I think, wasn't quite called upon. Players like Giuliano and Alex Teixeira competed with him for space in the midfield and I guess he just got pushed out. But as others have said, a lot has changed and I think Ganso matured.

    One thing that I think will be interesting down the line is how the Ukrainian league ends up affecting the development of Brazilian attacking talents -- because many of Brazil's brightest attacking players (outside of Keirrison and Philippe Coutinho) have wound up at Shakthar or Dinamo -Andre, Douglas Costa, Alex Teixeira, Willian - and the Atletico Paranaense duo of Jadson and Fernandinho (who were on that great Libertadores finalist team some years ago). The Ukrainian league is certainly more modest than other European leagues and it may prove to be beneficial for guys like Costa, and in particular, Andre -- who gets to learn from Shevchenko. Only time will tell.

    And with respect to Keirrison, I honestly think he never got a fair chance in Europe. Barcelona made a mistake of loaning him out to such a talented team like Benfica with so many attackers. And the coach said midway through the loan that he wouldn't use him again. Then at Fiorentina, well, it was more of the same -- and to be honest, I felt that Fiorentina probably could've used him still. I think the loan to Santos will prove to boost his confidence, but I doubt we'll see him play for Barcelona, unless Zlatan gets sold in the next year.

  • Comment number 47.

    Funny when I see an European article complaining about the "lack of pace" in the Brazilian league and just a few weeks after complaining about the death of the "Samba-football" in the Brazilian National Team...

    The same "slow" football was the one who change the way to see the game and won 3 Cups. You guys should be worry about the development of new "British" talents instead. I would love to see how good your clubs would perform without foreigners against Brazilian clubs (wouldn't be much different from the Horror show you guys shown in SA).

    Anyway, good or not the Brazilian clubs are the most successful teams in the FIFA CLUB WORLD CUP, but of course you guys don't care about this tournament, who cares about being Champion of the World when you can be champion of Europe.

    A bit more of humility would be welcome.

    About Robinho I just don't understand what s your problem with him. He turned up when he was 18 and won 2 leagues in Brazil, then went to Real Madrid and won 2 other leagues being an important player and in his first season at the International League (ops...English) he was the top scorer of Man City. All of this without mentioning that he ALWAYS perform well for Brazil (which is the MOST IMPORTANT THING!), on the other hand Rooney...

  • Comment number 48.

    A list of player who were a huge JOKE in Brazil and became stars in Europe.

    Julio Batista
    Michel Bastos
    Tiago Motta
    and believe me or not...KAKA!!

    Petkovic has been playing in Brazil for 12 years!! Why don't you ask him if regrets that? I tell you more, 8 years ago if he was Brazilian he would have been called up for the National side, if you try to find out a bit more about the Serbian football you would see that the supporters always wanted him in the Serbian national team...

    I would love to see an English star playing in Brazil...would be really funny to see a brainy player running like a fool! lol

  • Comment number 49.

    8. At 11:42am on 19 Jul 2010, tomefccam wrote:

    Hi Tim. I disagree with Deco and Milito being late developers. They are both class but not world class players. Deco joined barcelona aged 26/27 having played top class CL and UEFA cup football since the age of 21/22 at Porto. Milito is hardly blooming, just scoring a steady amount of goals as a central striker in a team that creates a lot of chances. He works very hard but without any immaculate innate ability. He is very similar to Ivica Olic of Bayern.

    They are more examples of players who, if you work hard enough will earn a top class move, but will never be the star of that team. Both have also provided little inspiration on the international scene.

    If you are good enough, you will get talked up from an early age as natural talent is easy to spot. The key to great players is having that talent, and then having the desire and aptitude to go and do it at the highest level. For every ten Hugo Vianas and Nii Lampteys you will get a Zidane, a Figo, a Ronaldo.


    Sadly this is one of the most incorrect and factually inaccurate assessments of Diego Milito I have ever had the misfortune of reading.

    His excellence was on display at Genoa and Zaragoza before Inter, and he certainly does not get a lot of chances. He's hailed as the most important player in a team that contains Eto'o, Sneijder, Cambiasso, Maicon, Lucio, Julio Cesar.... Take your pick.

    One of the worst assessments I've ever read, what a waste of a few minutes.

  • Comment number 50.

    Back in the 80s and early 90s the Brazilian players who made the move to Europe were top draw. Only the best were signed - Zico, Socrates, Junio, Dunga, and even the Casgrande that you mentioned was hard working if not anything else. In the last 10 years, the European teams have vacuume cleaned the Brazil and Argentinian leagues for talent. Remember Denilson (the original one), hard to believe that the was the world's most expensive player at some point.
    It is also a mentality thing. Someone once said (don't remember whether it was Carlos Alberto or Scolari) that "part of the job of a Brazilian manager is to find excueses for his stars when they don't show up for training". Now if you are a "star" and brought through that system, chances are that you will struggle when you move in to a professional environment.

  • Comment number 51.

    6 - robinho world class? talent, yes, but so far - and there's still time to change this - not there when you need him. you will never find a bigger admirer of robinho than dunga - before the world cup dunga said that robinho had yet to prove his greatness. after the tournament -case unproven - head went down again when it got tough.

    7 - ganso is a magnificent talent, a really wonderful player. but that position is the hardest to play in at top level - little time and space to make your decision. diego was incredible at santos at 17 - he talks very well about how he struggled to adapt to europe because he had to choose what to do with the ball so much more quickly. this in part explains ganso's problems at the world youth cup.
    many in the brazilian media are using the argument that ganso and neymar would have done well in the world cup because the german youngsters did. well maybe, but there are 2 differences - the german youngsters were european under-21 champions - had stepped up to the level successfully, and also they can play at pace - do so every week for their clubs.

  • Comment number 52.

    16 - fla-botagofo rivalry has been especially fierce over the last few years - they've disputed most of the recent rio finals , often controversially. usually botafogo fans are a tiny minority - they are scared of flamengo and stay home. last week it was closer to 50-50 - mainly the effect of the bruno case of flamengo morale.

    19 - refers to the blog as a'shocking report' because 'actually the brazilian league is one of the strongest in the americas.' i would call it the strongest - it's there in the piece. why comment on things you haven't read?

  • Comment number 53.

    49. At 4:02pm on 19 Jul 2010, Henry wrote:
    Sadly this is one of the most incorrect and factually inaccurate assessments of Diego Milito I have ever had the misfortune of reading.

    His excellence was on display at Genoa and Zaragoza before Inter, and he certainly does not get a lot of chances. He's hailed as the most important player in a team that contains Eto'o, Sneijder, Cambiasso, Maicon, Lucio, Julio Cesar.... Take your pick.

    Hailed by who? Facts remain that yeas, he performed well for Genoa, and Real Sociedad - hardly footballing powerhouses. On this basis you'll be suggesting that Savo Milosevic was world class.

    If Darren Bent moved to Inter, he would score just as many goals as Milito. My point was that yes, as you say, he has always been a steady, hard working goalscorer throughout his career. He will have 09/10 as his glory season as it will never get that good for him again. If he was world class, during his first stint at Genoa, a top italian team would have taken him on, as is the trend in that country.

    This never happened. Why? Because he is a hard working finisher, not a player who will change an entire team.

    One of the worst assessments I've ever read, what a waste of a few minutes.

  • Comment number 54.

    Apologies, I said Sociedad when in fact I meant a just an average side in Zaragoza

  • Comment number 55.

    hi tim, good blog.

    regarding overhyping youngsters who show early potential, surely theres no better example than marquinhos, formerly of palmeiras? one good season with vitoria and all of a sudden hes the next superstar set for a move to europe. just 2 years later and hes on the scrapheap, more interested in partying than playing football.

    i think part of the problem is that brasil has suffered such a talent drain to europe in recent years, with players moving on before they have established themselves here, that the brazilian fans and press have not really come to terms with the subsequent drop in quality of the brasileirao.

    therefore the likes of ganso and neymar are hyped up more than they should be, with media clamouring for their inclusion in the WC squad and the two players themselves appearing on adverts and tv programmes seemingly everywhere, giving the impression that they have already made it.

    although both players have huge ability FOR THEIR AGE (ie. potential to be top players) what everyone seems to forget here in brasil, and what must make the players themselves think that the route to the top is easy, is that they still have a long long way to go before they can be mentioned in the same breath as kaka and luis fabiano for example.

    for what its worth i think ganso will go all the way, while neymar i have a bad feeling is going to be an unfulfilled potential. no reason, just a feeling. hope i am proved wrong.

    Their next move will be a very important one for their development

  • Comment number 56.

    28 and 45 - colombia will host next year's world youth cup.

    32 - dunga's philosophy was never mine - and doesn't come out of nowhere. since 1986 brazil have almost always fielded 2 defensive midfielders.
    my point on the dunga team was this - when he selected his side, pleasing me was not one of the priorities. he was looking to win games - and the record shows that he did it more than not. in fact i don't think you could blame tactics or philosophy for the defeat to holland - without an emotional collapse (for which dunga must take the blame) i think brazil could have won the match and would have been serious candidates for the title.
    one of the great things about football is that it can be approached in so many different ways. i have always made it clear that my own preference, for what it's worth, is for midfield passing. i was never a fan of the dunga philosophy of 'close up the middle and break down the flanks.' but it's the direction that brazilian football has taken - as i wrote in the article, this is one of the things that makes the current santos side so interesting.

  • Comment number 57.

    33 - keirrison is an excellent example. i wrote plenty about him on the way up. some disagreed, but i always saw him as a promising striker - a good front to goal right footed finisher - who was weak in many other areas. but because he was scoring goals the praise was pouring in and people tried to present him as the finished article - no way.
    incidentally, when he left edmilson, just back from europe, commented that keirrison would probably be back before long, and so it has proved.
    this doesn't make him a bad player - he could go on to be a very good one indeed. but he has found out that he is not yet as good as he thought he was - an easy trap to fall into when so many have a vested interest in bigging you up.

  • Comment number 58.

    Re Robinho: a talented player who has never fulfilled ( and probably never will) his potential. Why? A combination of immaturity ( as has been referred to by one or two comments here), lack of character ( at Man City he just disappeared from games, putting in a good 10 or 15 mins here and there will never do).The second half of the Holland WC game illustrates my point. Where was Robinho? Nowhere!! Truly class players take the game by the scruff of the neck when their team is up against it and Robinho just hasn't got that in him.
    Re Ganso amnd Neymar: Tim's point about these 2 very talented players being told they're the bees knees is very true. Neymar is,apparently, a bit of a "screwed up" individual, while Ganso, who does look a star in the making, would seem to be readier to make the step-up to a major European league.
    Re The Brazilian League: Tim has often made the point before that it consists of players who a) are on their way up b) have come back from Europe - a step down- or c) not good enough to make it in Europe. I watch the Brazilian Championship every week and generally it's a disappointment. It appears very slow in comparison to the major European leagues. Yes, Brazil won World Cups with "slow" football, but the game has moved on, as we all know.
    Re Wigan-Blackpool: well, the Pool will take about 8000 fans there. As for the quality of football on display- as ever with Ollie's tangerine boys it'll be entertaining!!

  • Comment number 59.

    It could be argued that the lower standard of the south american leagues helps develop their youth players, giving them a greater chance of being seen, so when the reach their playing potential they are ready to make the leap from south american to european leagues. in this case it would seem to have a positive effect on the national team it allows a greater array of talent to be tried and tested, so to speak, with the really great players moving, and, more often than not making it in europe. unlike suggested by this article. in the prem we perhaps fail to give our youth players a chance to show their skills, which, slows, or even perhaps stunts their development. In brazil this may not be a problem, so, as the league does well, the national team suffers and visa versa. what is needed is compromise! like germany and holland!

  • Comment number 60.

    36 - "take away all the foreign stars in the premier league and it will be nothing."
    so what?

  • Comment number 61.

    The hostility of some of the pro-Brasileirão comments on here is a little surprising. The article simply states that the league is not consistently of truly high quality, particularly compared to the top European leagues. It´s a fair point to make given the talent that Brazil produces - shouldn´t the national league be better?

    I love watching Brazilian football, and in almost any game there will at least a handful of players of wonderful talent, whether young prospects or aging veterans. Also, even within rigid tactical systems, the attacking flair of the Brazilian footballing mentality shows through - forwards will always try to beat one more man or try an audacious shot from distance. Not always the case in the Premiership. But the overall skill level is patchy - the talent drain to Europe is just too great. I´d also say that the Brazilian footballing heirarchy is to blame (club presidents and directors) - the constant merry go-round of coaches and players destroys the chance of any kind of stability or consistent team development (typically it´s lose three games and you´re out). The CBF too is culpable, overseeing a shambolic footballing calendar and lacking any kind of intelligent, reforming leadership. Last but not least - no-one likes to play in front of an empty stadium, and the average Brazilian fan´s "pick and choose" approach to supporting their team is depressing and financially catastrophic for the game - I don´t think there were more than 5,000 people in the ground for São Paulo´s first game back after the World Cup break - and the Morumbi holds 60,000.

  • Comment number 62.

    37 - the petkovic comparison comes from something i wrote in a response above (51) about the playmaker positiont.
    clearly, on its own, the fact that player A did well in one league but not well in another does not necessarily mean that one is better than the other.
    but it does to me seem significant that a playmaker who is nearly 38 can stamp his influence on the game in brazil when even at his physical prime he was not able to do so in spain and italy.

  • Comment number 63.

    See this is one of the reasons that I think the World club cup should be expanded, even just slightly, so that we can get a better idea of what the true gap in quality is between European and South American football.

    I say "European" but of course then again the current champions of Europe were a team largely made up of South Americans! Think thats their problem - all the best South Americans come to play in Europe.

    I will say one thing though, and that is though the Champions League might be where the highest quality of football is, ask any kid, any fan, any player what they would rather win, and for almost every one it will be, and always will be the World Cup over the Champions League any day.

    It will always have that magic - for example you could tell on Seedorf's face recently at the world cup final that he'd have traded it all just to be on the pitch that day with a chance to lift it, and this is a player who won the Champions league 4 times.

  • Comment number 64.

    Excellent blog as always Tim, it's a shame that some users skim through the blog and seem to read an awful lot between the lines.

    It seems that some people are so used to the flat analysis given by other BBC bloggers that they try to break up your analysis into black and white either in favour of (robinho, brazil, dunga) or against.

    @53 - "If Darren Bent moved to Inter, he would score just as many goals as Milito..."

    Really? I don't think you are giving Milito enough credit, he put in a number of memorable performances for Inter last season and earned points on his own at times.

    Sure Inter have fantastic team chemistry and built last year's success on team ethic but at the times they did falter, Milito performed.

  • Comment number 65.

    64 - agreed, there are many who want to see everything as black and white - i worry sometimes that the capacity to formulate an argument is being lost, that people want to attack or praise so much that there is no space for a balance of strengths and weaknesses.

    one of the most positive things about doing a blog, though, is that you get criticized. when the criticism is good it makes you think, and perhaps reformulate your argument. and when it's bad it has a value, too. sometimes i've read criticism here and thought 'that's really unfair.' but that makes me wonder if the criticism i've dished out is as fair as it could be.

    for example, i've moaned on and on for years about gilberto silva's presence in the brazil team. and i think i have a right to an opinion - he wouldn't be in my team and i would much rather see a good passer of the ball in this position. but at times i might have been unfair - we're talking about a player with nearly 100 appearances for his country, a list of titles as long as your arm - there are clearly merits there which need to be taken into account.

  • Comment number 66.

    It's funny that some people blaming the premier league for having so many foreign players. What is their point? It's not english but international? So what? What is that you want to say?(here i want to mention that most european cups won by english teams were in an era where the vast majority of players and coaches were British) Anyways,you wont hear the same people blaming the German national squad for taking Turkish,Polish,Argentinias and making them Germans just to play for the German NATIONAL TEAM. Imagine the reaction if something like that happened with the English national team. Now,as how many will watch a wigan vs blackpool game,i dont know the exact number but surely a number much bigger than a game between two teams of the same caliber from any other league(catania-lecce,almeria-getafe etc). At the end(btw forgive me for my poor english) i want to say that along with other ppl i ve done a research about the tendecy of using football as an excuse to express the dislike or even hatred against a nation. Internet forums etc. were a really helpful source. English premier league always a fave target for people who want to express hate and the fact that the majority of them always come from some particular countries is a prove.

  • Comment number 67.

    Hi Tim,

    Seems the theme from the last blog has continued, in that people are criticizing without actually reading the article and pondering over the points before raising a valid point. Anyways very good article read a similar one you wrote for word soccer magazine about these two youngsters. Are they really that good? Also is there some truth about Ronaldinho moving to MLS? If that's so do you really think it will get him back to the form of 2003-2006? even though it might be against weaker opposition.

    Keep up the good work on world phone in, it's shame you don't do match of the day and we are stuck with Hansen and Shearer with their never ending sound bites.

  • Comment number 68.

    Tim, I have been following your blog for the last year or so, and it has been always brilliant - and again this week you are spot on. As a Brazilian living in the UK for 5 years now, I have grown familiar with the PL and the CL, and share your views on how poor South American club football league has become.
    I am a Corinthians fan and earlier this year, even hiding here in London, I could not escape the banter from my mates when we once again suffered Libertadores misery. My reply was exactly that - to win the Libertadores, or the Brazilian league, has become irrelevant given the bad quality on show. The last great side Corinthians had was in the end of the nineties, and perhaps the last great Brazilian side was the 2002 Santos with Robinho, Diego and Elano. The current squads are so poor they would struggle in the main European leagues. And this can be extended, by the way, to other South American leagues. Boca, River and Penarol are also only shadows of what they were 20, 30 years ago.

    I saw however a couple of comments on how badly this could affect national sides. Not that badly I would say - actually, the quality of players has been great recently, and the evidence is the strong showing of S.American teams in the WC. However all stars have in general been in Europe from young age.

    I remember in the eighties players would only move to Europe after achieving greatness in their Brazilian sides - that was the case with Falcao, Zico, Socrates and Careca. In the nineties, we started to see very good young players (such as Ronaldo and Romario) moving when they were still young, but at least strong players which were not that talented still played for a long time in Brazil before moving. Now any average young player is sent to places like Turkey and Ukraine and we are left with a bunch of has-beens and also-rans that wouldnt find a place in the good sides of 10 years ago (with the one-off good prospect young player).

    The Brazilian economy has been growing a lot recently and I would hope that the efficiency of some of our largerst companies would somehow be passed on to our Football administration, but I can;t see it really happenning...

  • Comment number 69.

    I feel you are now giving him too much credit Tim!

    Gilberto Silva's "list of titles as long as your arm" really only amounts to one top level title, the 2004/5 Arsenal EPL success here he had the help of one Patrick Viera alongside him.

  • Comment number 70.

    70 - let's be fair! there's a world cup in there, plus copa america, confederations cup....

  • Comment number 71.

    BrazilSeasider: Wigan - Blackpool was just an example. Yep, maybe the Pool will make it entertaining. However last time I paid to see Latics was at the DW against Spurs and there were about 18,000 on... I also follow the French league closely after living there for many years. Living in Brittany I supported Guingamp. Tiny town. Tiny club. Ligue 1... There are examples like this in all the top leagues in Europe and I just wondered what point the writer was making exactly. Certainly Latics would be over the moon to get 20,000 on a regular basis.

  • Comment number 72.

    As usual, another perfect essay from Vickery.

    As brazilian, I simply can't wait anymore for the new european season. Our championship is a pathetic demonstration of old/weak players and terrible referees.

    The best brazilian footballers are playing in the main european countries. The players above average, but not that good as the stars, play in Ukrayne, France, Portugal. The normal guys are in Greece, South Korea, Middle East.

    What we have playing in Brasil are the old dudes (Petkovic, Ronaldo the Fat, Belletti), the youngsters (Neymar, Ganso), and the fakes (Robinho, Kleberson, Diego Tardelli).

    It's really a shame. Unfortunately.

  • Comment number 73.

    72 - Don´t worry about how bad things are in the Brazilian League too much - with fans like you getting so passionately behind the local game I´m sure it will improve soon. Or as you say, you could just watch the Champions League on Sky. That´ll help.

  • Comment number 74.

    To my way of thinking, the most interesting point Tim is bringing up is that, although we all know that South America's best are flocking to Europe, perhaps many are being drawn too soon, before they have even established themselves in their domestic league. And although the local clubs want to do well, they also need the money their young stars bring in, so they are unable to fight against the impatience of the agents (most of whom own a significant % of the player) and the players' often greedy families.
    There are double standards being applied here, too. Look at the acting profession, which is dominated to a far greater degree by Hollywood, which drains off talent from all around the world and has a stranglehold on the distribution network.
    I don't want to get bogged down in politics, but it should be pointed out that a joint Colombia/Ecuador WC is unlikely to happen in the next 50 years, since the two countries are at loggerheads. The former is accused of being a US puppet, while the latter is within the Fidel Castro sphere of influence, and also provides a safe refuge for large numbers of Colombian drug traffickers and terrorists (or 'freedom fighters', depending on your political inclinations). Even Argentina/Uruguay seems much a better bet, though they have their own disagreements.

  • Comment number 75.

    The quality of the Brazilian league has been poor for years, between 1994 and 2002 when Brazil were winning World Cups or reaching finals, the Brazilian league was in a dire condition.

    This is not a new state of affairs.

    The majority of talented Brazilian footballers end up being poached by European sides. Consider this a blessing comapared to the majority of English players who are cursed by a fantastic league but no opportunities to play regularly and no interest from foreign clubs for their abilities.

  • Comment number 76.

    I'm a Man City fan and agree that Robinho is a world class talent. The only problem is, he needs everything to go right before he displays it.
    The posters who say "but he was top scorer for City in his first season" fail to mention that almost all those goals were at home, when the sun was shining. Away to Wigan in deepest December, Robinho went AWOL, all the while complaining at anything and everything.
    If he had the attitude of Tevez/Rooney he would be one of the best players in the world, but he hasn't, so he isn't.

  • Comment number 77.

    Tim,feeling happy seeing you participating in the arguements and discussion on the blog.Yes i know you do it when you can,but for all of us (football and vickery fans) commenting on your blog,its a pride even if u just mentioned the serial no. of our comments. And theres always a happiness in knowing that our arguement did vibrate in a frequency enough to resonate in your antenna.

    My concern!? I'm a bit worried about the direction the whole south american football and in sum total football is heading towards. Being a neo-1982 what i felt as the threat to football is development of the direct-play. Is it not or football deluded me in believing that its an art,an expression of skill and collectiveness?
    Few weeks before,i think you did mentioned that football is being a 7-pass game and the past 3 world cups showed it.Except argentina i really saw no team who would rely on the intricate passes,collective build ups and personal flair to win matches.(Cannot get enough of their 'goal of the tournament' in 2006.) South America now produces more positional players than versatile ones as that of before. The trend of pulling out the defenders from position and dodging the opponents is,at the very best,extinct. Seems they have given up the natural instinct,vision and physique just to develop alert,positional and solid players.And you know there are few exceptions always e.g ronaldinho,messi.

    Someone reminded me of Spain. Yes,they pass and though not with flair they play a better brand of football.But no,their passing and games are not about precious touches,build ups or samba. It is almost like pass the ball and xavi or iniesta will get it and they don't lose possession and they will pass too,sometimes with a vision for goal. Spain won the world cup not because they scored but because their opponents didn't score.And be sure i'm not praising their defense nor resenting their approach nor offending the talent of the players.

    Back to my point,i don't think samba will ever recover what it lost in '82. (And if they tried to bring it back there will be no occasion as auspicious as Brazil 2014 to do it.But i have a feeling that they'll be short of players of that style & faculty and also a coach who is ready to risk.) And the game in whole will never wake up from the slumber it took after the mightiest brazilians started to start with two defensive midfielders in the mould of silva and melo and not to forget the contribution of ultra-defensive tactics employed these days.

    However,things change,arts changed and the ultra modern art are too direct too. And even football cannot remain a isolatee.Hope its the case. What are your thoughts?
    And by the way,don't you think the most samba-stic player among the current brazilian team is Lucio?

  • Comment number 78.

    Tim thanks for your great blogs which have in-depth analysis of players, teams and systems. My question is about the Bolivian striker Marcelo Moreno. I've rated him highly since his days at Vitoria and Cruzerio. However since coming to Europe he's struggled at Shaktar Donetsk and failed to scored on his loan spells with Werder Bremen and Wigan. I was surprised when he opted for Ukraine. Was it that he was rushed out too quickly out of Cruzeiro?
    Secondly, it's very annoying to hear the press always talk about Forlan's unsuccessfully spell at Old Trafford. I probably missed it before but I'll love to know your view on what made him tick elsewhere in his career.

  • Comment number 79.

    Tim, great blog - thanks. Great comments too, particularly the broader thoughts in post 65 where you've succinctly covered the most frustrating element of "everyone opining" in the "blogosphere" (shudder - hideous term!!)

    Thanks again and I look forward to the next installment (and some of the inevitable unfounded comments!)

  • Comment number 80.


    Tim, I never said Müller and Pedro's sucess is proof that Ganso WOULD make a great World Cup. But it's proof that he certainly COULD, age and lack of experience aren't necessarily a problem.

    Also, it was notorious that Brazil lacked a midfield playmaker that could slow down the pace (or speed up) if needed and organize the team; Kaká, for all his great qualities, isn't this kind of player, and Julio Baptista certainly isn't either. The only Brazlian player with characteristics and talent like that would be Ganso; except, of course, for Fenerbahce's Alex, who hasn't got a single call-up in four years, an absolute shame. I wouldn't mind if Ganso missed the WC if he was called up instead.

    And as for Petkovic, after leaving Brazil for the first time to a small club in Italy, he came back by choice; he liked the lifestyle and the Brazilian culture, and was probably better to play in big Brazilian clubs than trying to make a name for himself in smaller European ones.

    And players like Muller (the Brazilian one), Edmundo, Edilson, Rogerio Ceni, etc, all didn't had big European careers or never played there, and it isn't used to dismiss them.

  • Comment number 81.

    80 - no, mengao, you didn't say that just because the young germans did well then neymar and ganso would have done - but many have used this argument.

    i agree 100% that brazil would have been better with more midfield change of rhythm - but this wasn't the style of dunga's team. whether we liked it or not, i think the results achieved in the 2 years before the world cup gave dunga the right to take his group of players.

    petkovic - you said it yourself - he came to the conclusion that in brazil he could be a big fish, but not in europe.

    muller, edmundo, edilson - i think their record at international level, not just with clubs, leaves them short of greatness. good players - at times very good. but not quite genuine world class.

  • Comment number 82.

    Regarding #80:

    And by not having a player like this, Dunga showed:

    a) Stubborness.
    b) Incapacity to see the obvious (that a player like this would be needed)

    What was Brazil's plan B? Just like Maradona made a mistake by not calling Zanetti saying "we won't use fullbacks" and later having to improvise Gutierrez, Dunga made a mistake by not having anyone that could offer lots of creativity in the midfield other than Kaka.

    As for Dunga's achievements, what did he achieve that Parreira didn't in 2002-2006? Absolutely nothing. And at least, despite all his flaws, Brazil from 2002-2006 showed some excellent football in many moments, and he still used regularly or in the starting XI players that could be the future of the team, like Juan, Lucio, Robinho, Kaka, Julio Cesar, Fred, Adriano, Cicinho, etc (though not all of them did become the future, clearly). But from Dunga's team, virtually all the players will be past his prime in 2014 or already are, as he made a point of taking older players.

    And I don't know if Petkovic would be necessarily be unable to be a big fish in Europe. I think he chose to came back mostly because of the lifestyle, not completely unlike Romario, who at the time he returned, was the biggest "peixe" of them all, wasn't he?

  • Comment number 83.

    My last post was a reply to #81, obviously.

  • Comment number 84.

    Not bad Tim. I agree with the assessment of the league in many ways. I was suprised with the break this year for the World Cup (I had to sit down for that one) and if ever there was an opportunity to switch the Championship and State timetables that was it. Instead they crammed in more early games. Finalists and semi finalists in both crucial cup tournaments will possibly also suffer.

    The Brasiliero should be in line with Europe to prevent the best players leaving in the middle as is so often the case. The State Championship is then the showcase for the Corithians and Palmeirases of Brazilian football to snap up the young talent they so refuse to develop.

    The libertadores will once again suffer as a result of international competition with its rediculous timetable. Chivas Guadalara (spelling), as I mentioned above, will be without Hernadez for the Semi, not the first time they have suffered in this way (I remember 5 years ago when as the best team by far in the tournament they suffered when 6 of their best had to play in Germany in the Confederation Cup missing the Quarters.) Santos didn't do so well in that year either for the same reason.

    Why not Hold the Libertadores and Sul Americana (as they do in Europe) at the same time (the latter could win a place in the following years Libertadores) and then the Brazilian Cup could be open to all the top teams (not minus the top 4 and 5 as it is today)at a different time, which would again improve the quality.


  • Comment number 85.

    chivas were without hernandez and all their other national team players for the knock out rounds before the world cup (mexico called up early).

    the idea of holding the 2 international club competitions - libertadores and the sul-americana - at the same time.
    i think this is only viable if they are played over the entire year, rather than each one being squeezed into a semester as at present - and even with that there is a huge problem of confusing the supporter and losing focus. these are made for tv competitions, sustained by tv money and dependent on showing the games to the entire continent plus mexico. if you run them both at the same time in the same 6 month period, as i think you suggest, then one is competing against the other.

    i fear that you are also forgetting the international context. many in brazil argue that the two competitions should both be played at the same time, squeezed into the same 6 months - because then the brazilian teams which play in the libertadores will also be able to take part in the brazilian cup (which at present they don't)

    from all the other countries' perspective, it's not an argument that wins you any votes. they are smaller - with smaller internal markets - and thus their clubs need all year round international competition.

  • Comment number 86.

    Hi Tim,

    A massive fan of your blogs, as I don't have the opportunity to follow the Brazilian football, but reading your blogs I feel I am getting a real insight.

    First point I'd like to raise is the massive influx of Brazilians in Eastern Europe, in particular at a few clubs in Romania, Russia and Ukraine. The two I would like to talk about are Shakhtar Donetsk and CSKA Moscow. Both have become their countries first respective winners of a European trophy since the fall of the USSR with much help from the Brazilians. At CSKA it was Daniel Carvalho and Vagner Love, at Shakhtar Ilsinho, Fernandinho, Luiz Adriano and Jadson. Since then the love of Brazilians at CSKA has gone out of the door, Daniel Carvalho, Jo and Dudu have moved on, it was a great shame Daniel Carvalho didn't earn a move to a bigger club, and at the end his career just fell apart - no idea what happened to him. Vagner Love went back on loan to Brazil to earn a World Cup place, but apparently he didn't really impress enough. It was disappointing not to see Vagner Love during CSKA's most successful run in Champions League, and youngster Necid simply isn't good enough to fill Vagner Love's shoes right now. Also Vagner Love had a fantastic understanding with Dzagoev (a young Russian sensation), but since Vagner Love left, Dzagoev lost his ways a little. Do you think it was a wise decision to move back to Brazil? As for Shakhtar players, I feel the club is so rich, that they are simply not a conveyor belt sort of club - so the Brazilians there earn as much money as they would at any top European club and the club doesn't need to sell. However, it seems virtually impossible for them to get a call up from the national team, no matter how well they play in Ukraine?

    What do people in Brazil view the clubs in Russia and Ukraine as - simply as ways to earn some good money, or genuine teams to make a name or a career for yourself?

    The second point I would like to raise is about Spartak Moscow who have quite a few Brazilians on the books - the 4 first team regulars - Ari, Alex, Welliton and Ibson. Welliton has time after time expressed his desire to play for Russian national team, he has been a revelation in Russia, but unfortunately people in Russia are a bit like here in England, can't accept anyone but "their own" playing for their country. However, as you know after Russia miserably failed against Slovenia to qualify for the World Cup, many Russians view his desire to play for Russia is stronger than many of the current Russian players. How do people in Brazil respond when players choose to play for other countries? Alex, I think alongside with Danny (a Portuguese international) despite having a difficult second season, is nonetheless probably the best midfielder in the league. He has been along the fringes of Dunga's squad and earned 4 caps under Dunga as a sub, but I feel he is one of those players who should've been considered, I can't help but think he is a similar type of player to Kaka, perhaps more capable unlocking defences with a pass, whereas Kaka is more about direct running. Should he have been considered for the World Cup, a player seemingly in his prime and in good form?

  • Comment number 87.

    I believe the lack of ability that Dunga had as a Brazilian player moulded his ethos for his management of the Selecao. I'll tell you why. He obviously valued his worth to the 1994 and 1998 teams so much that he believed choosing a team consisting of average hard working players like himself would win him a title. His whole great players win games...philosophy.

    He must forget that he did not begin the 1994 campaign as captain, and was a central figure in an abysmal 1990 world cup performance. I also believe that having witnessed players like Djalminha, Juninho Osvaldo, Denilson, Bismarck, and Edmundo during his playing days, and how they were all supremely talented but could not quite assert themselves internationally...jaded his thinking in believing creative players would be a detriment to his system.

    Tim, you argue that "He won more often than not". I'd like you to show me a coah of Brazil who didn't?

    This man got it so horribly wrong, not only stole a winning world cup side from his public, but also stole a huge chunk of world cup entertaining by manufacturing this mundane international side.

  • Comment number 88.

    One thing I've not understood since this world cup has been the criticism of Gilberto Silva - he filled the same defensive midfielder (who drops back to become a third centre-back in possession) that Sergi Busquets did for Spain, for example and seemed to do it very well. This was a tournament where having a least one defensively-minded midfielder was important. A lot was made about his age as well, but he was only 33. For me the problem lay with his partner, Felipe Melo. He didn't have a great season in Italy and was at times worried that he wasn't going to be on the plane. And his fairly poor disciplinary record was no secret either - 13 yellows and 2 reds last season, 14 yellows and 3 reds the season before that for Fiorentina, and that's just in the league. For all his qualities, I'm not convinced that he was ever good enough or if he had the right temperament - he was dragged into some kind of MMA brawl with Pepe against Portugal and had to be taken off, and then lost his cool against the Netherlands.

    In short, I don't see Gilberto Silva as being the problem - his passing, though limited, is effective; he keeps it short and generally has a very high success rate. His discipline is excellent too - let's not forget he twice went 45 games without being booked for Arsenal. Maybe the issue was Brasil needed someone next to him who would get forward as well as cover back, or someone to play deep with a better range of passing; either what Schweinsteiger did for Germany or what Xabi Alonso did for Spain. Playing two 'defensively-minded' players in itself is not necessarily bad but I don't think they can both be water-carriers or anchor-men. I'm not sure who the best candidates would be for this role, however. Or rather, I don't know who the best prospects for 2014 would be. Which raises another question - Gilberto Silva may have done a good job at this world cup, but he will be 37 in 2014. There needs to be a replacement or a rethink.

    And for what it's worth, I'm not sure it's possible to make too many general statements about the Brasileirão because of Pet's performances, he is somewhat of an anomaly . Yes, he is old and he is Serbian, but I think other players went to Brasil from Yugoslavia when he returned in 2000/2001 and never had the same success and never fell in love with the country, lifestyle, etc as it appears Pet has done. I take your general point that he never made it in Europe but yet is still flourishing for Flamengo, and he probably was never really good enough for Real Madrid, but that seems to have been taken by some readers to be a sign of problems in Brazilian football. Like Ravanelli and Juninho Paulista becoming icons at Middlesborough, I think Petkovic and Brazilian football is just a 'right place, right time' moment that seems so bizarre it doesn't quite make sense; I don't think many other players would have had his success. Part of it as well is that he is in a team that has players that will work hard behind him defensively - he can conserve his energy - and things like vision and passing ability never really desert a good player.

  • Comment number 89.

    Two yrs ago, I saw Mauro Boselli score a hat-trick for Boca Jnrs v Rosario om a league match at the Bombonera.

    It certainly will be intersting to see how he does at Wigan. Very rare that I disagree with Tim's opinions, but I think there is a little more to Boselli's game than just a poacher.

    I remember when he first started playing for Boca the problem was the opposite. Boca fans I know reckoned he looked good on the ball, but just couldn't score - until that hat-trick v Rosario. But he was never going to dislodge Martin Palermo, so had to move on.

    I think he'll be a success in England and Wigam have picked up a bargain.

  • Comment number 90.

    87. At 09:48am on 20 Jul 2010, tomefccam wrote:

    I believe the lack of ability that Dunga had as a Brazilian player moulded his ethos for his management of the Selecao. I'll tell you why. He obviously valued his worth to the 1994 and 1998 teams so much that he believed choosing a team consisting of average hard working players like himself would win him a title. His whole great players win games...philosophy.

    He must forget that he did not begin the 1994 campaign as captain, and was a central figure in an abysmal 1990 world cup performance. I also believe that having witnessed players like Djalminha, Juninho Osvaldo, Denilson, Bismarck, and Edmundo during his playing days, and how they were all supremely talented but could not quite assert themselves internationally...jaded his thinking in believing creative players would be a detriment to his system.

    You can probably add Dunga's contemporaries Rai and Valdo to that list...Rai was a brilliant player for Sao Paulo and PSG, and Valdo for Benfica and PSG as well. But neither of them reached the same level for the Brazil national team.

    I'm in complete agreement with you- there's no doubt that Dunga's contempt (perhaps not the right word but you know what I mean) for flair players and respect for the European style of play came from seeing players like Rai and the guys you mention fail at international level, in addition to his experiences in Germany and Italy as a player.

  • Comment number 91.

    88. At 10:21am on 20 Jul 2010, sangels:

    I'm not sure that people are taking issue with Gilberto directly, more the fact that a midfield consisted of Gilberto and Melo...and Elano who is also not the most creative player about.

    People are upset that this Brazil side was very negative, very european, and ultimately no good to watch.

    A Rivaldo was needed, an Alex, a Ronaldinho, a player who can just be given a free role to do as he feels.

    I remember Barcelona playing Liverpool at Anfield when just into the game, from nowhere Rivaldo unleashed the most audacious effort on goal from the half way line. Completely out of the blue.

    I'd argue that Brazil of 2010 did not contain a single player capable of a moment of brilliance like this.

  • Comment number 92.

    91. At 10:57am on 20 Jul 2010, tomefccam wrote:

    "Elano who is also not the most creative player about."

    "I remember Barcelona playing Liverpool at Anfield when just into the game, from nowhere Rivaldo unleashed the most audacious effort on goal from the half way line. Completely out of the blue.

    I'd argue that Brazil of 2010 did not contain a single player capable of a moment of brilliance like this."


    Elano was as creative as Brazil could have hoped until he was brutalised into being taken off against the Ivorians. As for Brazil not having a player capable of letting off an ambitious attempt on goal, Maicon claimed he meant the shot that went in against NKorea and Robinho hit his long range dipping attempt against the Ivory Coast just over.

  • Comment number 93.

    Rubbish article
    how much the english players impress at the world stage or even at club level when up against top class teams.
    and your rooney which you people rate parallel to messi, kaka, and ronaldo who all have won fifa's player of the yaer award.
    and i would pick robiniho even if he has one leg left over rooney all the time.
    the fact is its the english players who are over rated and hyed and always bite the dust but don't learn their lessons where as the brazilians are not over rated or hyped its just that you people have an air of extreme jealousy for them as they are the best team in the world and the most successful team in the world

  • Comment number 94.

    92. At 11:45am on 20 Jul 2010, Fenomeno wrote:

    Elano was as creative as Brazil could have hoped until he was brutalised into being taken off against the Ivorians. As for Brazil not having a player capable of letting off an ambitious attempt on goal, Maicon claimed he meant the shot that went in against NKorea and Robinho hit his long range dipping attempt against the Ivory Coast just over.


    Rivaldo won the World Cup and reached a final 4 years previously. He scored in almost every round at 2002. Maicon and Robinho have done neither of these things.

    Elano is also a pre-man city money reject.

  • Comment number 95.

    87. At 09:48am on 20 Jul 2010, tomefccam wrote:

    'Tim, you argue that "He won more often than not". I'd like you to show
    me a coah of Brazil who didn't?'

    How about Emerson Leao? He was fired after little more than a year in charge because it looked like he wasn't going to qualify for WC 2002, despite the fact that he had (as you yourself point out) players such as Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Romario at his disposal. Winning isn't a foregone conclusion for any international coach, even that of Brazil. I agree (as does Tim, if you read the piece) that Dunga's team was dull and unimaginative, but his record as manager was excellent. During his reign, he won 56 games, lost only 6 (only 4 competitively) and drew 12. You may not like his style of play (nor do I) but his record speaks for itself.

  • Comment number 96.

    To me this blog smacks of 'Englands international team is inadequate so lets focus on how great the EPL is by dissing the Brazil league and bask in some reflected glory.'

    To another poster - The EPL is most watched due to the inability for a team to hold on to the ball for more than 30 seconds at a time leading to end to end football which is, for sure, more exciting than watching teams pass around the back 3 or 4.

    Problem of course is when international football comes around and the top English players aren't getting umpteen chances every few seconds, so fali to make a mark. This is in stark contrast to the other countries whose players have been brought up with getting minimal chances and need to be clinical to make th emost of the few chances they get. Thats a bit of a generalisation of course but this world cup showed this to be the case.

  • Comment number 97.

    93 and 96 - win this week's zero mostel from the producers award - ' they come, they all come - how do they find me?'

    for the millionth time, i might have been born in england but i am in no way a spokesman for english football. there is no such thing as 'my rooney' (unless someone lets me sell him and keep a cut, in which case disregard the above)- and there is no 'how great the premier league is' in the article.

    the club side explicitly mentioned is barcelona.

  • Comment number 98.

    89 - clacky, i hope you're right with boselli, but i have my doubts.

    i've been following him since the south american under-20s at the start of 2005, when i thought his lack of all round ability was shown up playing with messi - argentina seemed to think so too - they didn't take him to the world youth cup a few months later.

  • Comment number 99.

    I love when people assume Tim is as blindy nationalistic as themselves, such as post 96 Davser and post 93 mtm_4.

    Having a dig at Tim by having a dig at England is not the way to go chaps. If you disagree with him, how about some constructive comments next time rather than 'this country is better than this country because I say so'.

  • Comment number 100.

    Some of the contributors here seem to forget that it is the CBF that runs Brazilian football and dictates the style, not Dunga - whose mandate was simply to win the WC in SA. Given that 190m people were demanding the same thing, he probably chose the best squad available for the task. A balanced side that was used to playing together and combined speed and creativity with the toughness you need in modern football to be a success (Uruguay, ironically, were the cleanest team among the WC semi-finalists). Robinho, Kaka and Elano are all top class creative players - when fit. You can argue that there was inadequate cover when Elano got crocked (and Ramirez was unavailable because of the yellow cards) and the situation cried out for Ganso. But there are plenty of arguments for not taking him too - and it would be foolish to believe Dunga took that decision on his own. And how many other teams could carry the absence of a leading player against top class opponents? I am saddened the way some people have allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the Brazilian media's campaign against Dunga. But he came back from a poor 1990 to inspire his team to the 1994 title and will bounce back from this experience as a manager too. Brazil needs more people with the 'garra' and personal integrity of Dunga!


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