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

Brazil fail to rediscover winning formula

Post categories:

Tim Vickery | 12:09 UK time, Monday, 15 August 2011

One of my favourite pieces of football writing is by the splendid Argentine coach Angel Cappa, a romantic of the old school, reflecting on his good fortune at being in Spain to watch Brazil’s midfield in the 1982 World Cup.

“The ball arrived in this zone [midfield],” he wrote, “and would then disappear to reappear in the form of a rabbit and also a dove and then was hidden again from anguished opponents who would look for it in the most unlikely places without being able to find it….

"The crowd, myself included, looked at the watch with the intention of making time stand still because we all wanted the game to last for ever.”

Since then, though, no one has really been able to write about Brazil in quite the same terms. Not through any lack of quality - in the last 30 years the production line of great attacking full backs and magnificent strikers has been working overtime.



Brazil's national team have failed to rediscover their past winning formula after World Cup 1982 defeat. PHOTO: GETTY

But the game has never flowed through the midfield with the same magic, because that has not been the objective.

For many Brazilian coaches, the failure of that 1982 side to win the World Cup (they lost to Italy) served as proof for ideas that had been kicking around for a while - starting with a 5-1 massacre at the hands of Belgium in 1963, confirmed by the defeat by Holland in the 1974 World Cup.

The physical development of the game, it was thought, meant that traditional methods had to be revised. Brazilian players had to bulk up - Rubens Minelli, the most successful domestic coach of the 70s, wanted his team to be made up of six footers.

And with less space on the field, the future of football lay in the counter attack, rather than elaborate attempts to pass through midfield.

These thoughts have carried a lot of weight in the Brazilian game. They help explain why a succession of Brazil sides have caught the eye for explosive breaks down the flanks rather than for the succession of midfield triangles that enraptured Cappa and everyone else in 1982.

When former Middlesbrough left-back Branco was in charge of Brazil’s youth sides, he told me that right from the start of the process the search for big, strong youngsters was a priority. Brazilian coaches, meanwhile, became fond of spouting the statistic that the chances of a goal are reduced if the move contains more than seven passes.

And then along came the Barcelona/Spain school, with its little Xavis and Iniestas and its focus on possession of the ball - and its accumulation of trophies. Had not Brazilian football declared such players and such methods obsolete?

Once a star with both Brazil and Barcelona, Rivaldo recently made clear the distance that has grown between the two schools. His old team-mate Pep Guardiola, he said, had built a Barcelona team in his own image, giving his players "the tranquillity to go anywhere, even Real Madrid away, and keep passing the ball, irritating the opponents.

"A time will come when they will be able to slip someone through on goal and score. This is down to him, because he transmits this idea to the players and then trains it, something that you don’t see in Brazil.

"I visited Barcelona and watched a training session. Here [in Brazil] if you try to train retaining possession of the ball, the players don’t like it. I see people talking about the way that Barcelona play the ball around, but here in Brazil everyone wants to get the ball and charge forward."

These are fascinating observations, which perhaps help explain why Brazil are in an awkward moment of transition.

The official line is that Brazil are trying to wean themselves off an excessive dependence on the counter- attack. Coach Mano Menezes declared as such when he took over a year ago, and there is sound thinking behind the attempt to change direction - or perhaps, to turn the clock back.

First, there is the need to gain full advantage from playing at home in the 2014 World Cup. The local crowd will react better to a style of play more in line with the traditional virtues of the Brazilian game.

Second, on home ground no one will offer Brazil the opportunity to counter attack. Something more expansive will be necessary.

But can Brazil currently count on the players with the skills and ideas to put this change of direction into practice? Today’s players, of course, are far too young to have seen the 1982 side.

On Sunday Brazil met Spain in Colombia in the quarter finals of the World Youth Cup. Before the match Brazil boss Ney Franco, hand picked by Menezes to take charge of the Under-20s, paid tribute to the style of the opponents, but added that “Spain are not exactly a reference - it’s enough to remember our team of 82.”

The game that followed was a minor classic because of the clash of styles. Before tiredness muddied the waters, the pattern of the game was clear.

Spain were more like the Brazil of 82, with their carefree passing. Brazil had aspects of that year’s Italy, ruthless on the break. They won on penalties after an exhilarating 2-2 draw.

It was the type of game that made me lament all the more that the senior teams did not meet in either the 2009 Confederations Cup or last year’s World Cup. Puncher versus counter-puncher often makes for a great spectacle.

Should they meet in 2014, Brazil’s idea, as we have seen, is that there shall not be such a clash of styles. That is, assuming that Mano Menezes keeps his job, and that he keeps his nerve.

Losses in recent months to Argentina and France were followed by a disappointing Copa America.

Attempts to play a more elaborate passing game have not been entirely convincing. And so for last week’s friendly away to Germany he surprisingly dropped his playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso and selected a midfield that left his team with no other option but the counter-attack. It didn’t work and probably did not deserve to.

The margin of defeat was wider than the 3-2 scoreline might suggest.

After the game Menezes commented that his team were not yet ready to trade toe-to-toe with Germany, who were not even at full strength.

Does this mean that, under pressure, Brazil’s coach is losing faith in his team’s capacity to recapture the swagger of its predecessors that was eulogised with such eloquence by Angel Cappa?

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

Q) It has always surprised me that the legend of Argentinean football Carlos Bianchi has never taken the role of coach of the national team. His CV is simply outstanding having won 7 league titles and 4 Copa Libertadores as well as a host of intercontinental cups. As manager of Boca he oversaw the development of the likes of Riquelme, Tevez, Samuel and Palermo into world class players and having been a former great international player himself he appears the perfect candidate to lead Argentina to World Cup Glory.
Why hasn't he ever managed Argentina? Is it a personal reason or do the Argentine FA not rate him for some reason?
Monty Hallaq

A) There’s thought to be some bad blood between him and Julio Grondona, the long term head of the Argentine FA. But there have been times in the past when of his own accord he ruled himself out of contention.

He hasn’t coached for a while, and it’s worth remembering that his spells in Europe, with Roma and Atletico Madrid, were not a success.

His club record in Argentina is indeed wonderful. The national team is a different challenge, though, and I’m not entirely convinced. He’s an organised, methodical type, perhaps the kind of coach who’s much better suited to the club game. I’m not sure he could adapt well to not having daily contact with players and the chance to drill repeatedly on the training ground.

Q) In the World Youth Cup I recently looked up to see who had qualified for the quarter-finals, and ONCE AGAIN, South America is well represented (Brazil, Colombia, Argentina). What do you think about that?
Jini Twahirwa Sebakunzi

A) Only Brazil are left in the semis, and they only qualified on penalties - which has confirmed my feeling that this year’s is not a vintage crop from the continent.

Nevertheless, having three in the last eight is in indication of how seriously the Under-20 teams are taken in South America.

They are seen as a key conveyor belt to the senior side. More important than winning titles at this level is grooming players, and on tis count I think Ecuador have plenty to be pleased about in the current tournament.

By all accounts they were unlucky not to beat France and reach the quarter finals, and I think there are a few players in their team who in a few years time might be featuring in the senior side.


  • Comment number 1.

    Tomorrow evening River play their first ever game in division 2 and they will get a good thrashing from Chacarita!
    Vamos Chaca carajo!

    Tim, I heard you on the podcast talking about the boca/river rivalry and class-based rivalries in South America.
    It does have historical basis and the location of the stadiums has some significance but if you were to go to the Bombostera tonight you would see no shortage of the middle-classes and higher.
    I think Europe and North America also has a similar cultural phenomenon where "rich kids" think its cool to associate themselves with a more impoverished background. You notice in Argentina that the European and North American tourists and backpackers are more likely to wear Boca's colours than those of River (when they are not wearing their equally curious Che Guevara T-shirts that is).
    It may also be due to clever marketing by Boca too.

    The point I'm making is that aside form some of the South American immigrant communities in Buenos Aires, I no longer believe that social class plays any part in determining which team to follow in Buenos Aires.

  • Comment number 2.

    The Spain-Brazil game was excellent but I thought Brazil started to take over after the 1st half... possession was 52%-48% for Spain according to which sounds right to me. Not much to choose between those two, although I thought the Brazilians had the stronger individuals. On the other hand, Spain squandered a lot of chances...their lack of finish may end up haunting the senior team too.

  • Comment number 3.

    1 - I agree that time can dilute the social class differences - but they still exist - hence the songs river fans sing poking fun at boca for being full of bolivians and paraguayans, poor imigrant communities.

  • Comment number 4.

    2 - remember Spain came through extra time and penalties in the previous round, whereas Brazil played only 90 minutes - hence my comment in the text about tiredness muddying the waters.
    Spain tired earlier - while they were full of gas in the first half the possession stats were not far off 70% in their favour - which Brazil, basing their game around the counter attack, were not necessarily unhappy about.

  • Comment number 5.

    Does anyone else think it is funny, possibly ironic, that Brazil encourages high performance, tall and physical players when the style in the leagues is almost like a non contact sport ?

    Also anyone else think international matches need officiating in a more robust consistent way ?

  • Comment number 6.


    But I really think those songs are an unfortunate part of local football folklore than anything else.
    Bear in mind that both Racing and Independiente sing them more than River do and Avellaneda is hardly Recoleta.

    I would agree that amongst the very poorest communities Boca are slightly more popular (but only slightly) however in all social classes higher than that I think it is almost irrelevant.
    Any snobbery that would lean towards supporting River is balanced by the desire of others to associate themselves with the "poor = cool" Boca.

  • Comment number 7.

    @1 Agreed, I've just been down to La Boca to see if I could get tickets for their game tonight, seems no tickets go on sale to the general public anymore, only for socios and tourist packages which cost 5 or 10 times the normal price, obviously the demand is there from gringos willing to pay this price.

  • Comment number 8.

    By far the best blog on the BBC, still find it ludicrous how little the BBC actually have on their website about other leagues and countries. And they wonder why we have little knowledge of anywhere else!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Sorry to drag on but I realise I never made my main point!

    Whilst many derbies do have a strong political/religious/social etc flavour such as sevilla/betis, rangers/celtic, barca/real, north vs south in Italy, and many more besides, the superclasico in Argentina is so far from being defined by earlier class distinctions that now it is only the most trivial part of the overall picture.

    Clubs in Argentina place great importance on their history, as do their fans, much more so than England in my opinion, but in the 21st century this particular class issue hardly gets a mention in the build-up, match-day or post-match coverage - the reason being because it no longer matters much.

    The xenofobic songs, sung by most clubs when they play Boca, are just an excuse to be offensive.

  • Comment number 10.

    Tim, really enjoyed the blog as I usually do, but I always find your profile picture for the blog slighty over putting. It looks like you are lying on some kind of Roman style chair, eating grapes or waiting to smooze some lovely lady. Perhaps a more football/journalistic type photo would be more suitable?

  • Comment number 11.

    Tim -- I think the almost 4 day layover between games would probably have given the Spanish team sufficient rest. And, as a result of the weather, Brazil couldn't even practice the day before the game. I assume that Spain also did not practice as well the day before. So there's your rest. Brazil has always had physical preparation and stamina as their forte -- and it showed yesterday.

    I wasn't quite shocked with the way the game played out. Brazil had been showing in this entire tournament that they always come strong in the 2nd half. They were beginning to grow by about the 30th minute and looked to be the better side even when Spain tied it. Spain squandered many opportunities, but Brazil as well -- particularly at the feet of Oscar and the Ramires/Denilson(Betis) combo known as Negueba.

    I think for me, Brazil were just able to bring on more influential substitutes. Vazquez scored, true, but he wasnt quite as menacing as the duo of Negueba and Dudu, who really took advantage of the tired Spaniards with their pace and flair, particularly Negueba.

    I also think that this U20 World Cup is a pretty good vintage. First, let's not forget that the game's brightest U20 stars are not here (Thiago, Neymar, and Lucas -- and others I am sure). But on Brazil and Spain, I counted about 4 or 5 players who could make the senior squad by 2014. For Brazil, Gabriel, Oscar, Coutinho, and Alex Sandro (although the new Porto man is now hurt), and possibly Casemiro. For Spain, I rate quite highly Rodrigo, Koke, Romeu, Bartra, and Amat. I don't expect all of these guys to make it, but certainly 3 or so. And that's a pretty good number given the depth of these two teams.

  • Comment number 12.

    I remember as a ten year old watching the Brasil of `82. They were magnificient to watch. I was so gutted when Paolo Rossi got the winner against them in the 2nd round. Italy went on to win it,and Rossi got the golden boot, but me and my friends were all trying to imitate the likes of Zico, Falcao, Socrates, Junior etc.

    As for the Brasil of today...why should it be that they have to play with flair or have to play by counter attacking? Why so black and white? Surely as a coach you must play to your team`s strengths, be that with flair or strength (or both). If your players cannot emulate the likes of Zico et al in style then opt ot play the other way. And vice versa.
    Or the coach could adapt their style with small nuances that nullify the oppostitions tactics, or expose their weaknesses. We all remember Wimbledon beating one of the best Liverpool sides ever in the 1988 FA Cup final, not because they were better,but they employed better tatics.
    I must say that I am no coaching expert, or claim to know everything about South American football,but surely as a coach you cannot be naive enough to think,`We are going to play like the class of 82` without studying your own qualities or lack of, and the opposition.
    I think it will be very unlikely that Brasil will win the next world cup,as teams will just defend against them and sit back, then catch them on the break. Even if Brasil had won last time around under Dunga, the media and some die hard romantics would still not have been happy. So if they are now in a time of transition it will be a Sugar Loaf sized mountain to climb. Strikes me, that this is not the time to be experimenting on the style of play, more on the fine tweaking of tactics.

    But I must say that this is just my opinion :)

    Good blog as ever Tim.
    (If you had a pound for every time someone says that you`d be a rich man, Mr Vickery)

  • Comment number 13.

    I have enough to worry about with Sabella needing to rebuild Argentina's defense and find some midielders who can supply the ball to the team's talented attackers. But when I watch Brazil, I am always struck at Mano Menezes leaving Hernanes out of his team. He called him in once, a friendly versus France where Hernanes uncharacteristiclaly got sent off for leaving his boot too high as he charged into an opponent. Mano Menezes has used that expulsion to subsequently refuse to call Hernanes into the team. Thus Brazil are missing a player who can either act as a playmaker, as he does with Lazio, or can play as a mixed midfielder as we call them in South America (two way midfielder is I think the English way of saying it, a midfielder who both attacks but also does his share of defending.) Hernanes would I think be the ideal player in Brazil's midfield.

    Back to Argentina I am looking forward to reading who Alejandro Sabella will call up for his first two matches as Argentina's coach. As I wrote before it is in defense and midfield where the team needs some renovation.

    Soccer Futbol Forum:

  • Comment number 14.


    Do you agree that changing back to a possession based game is the right thing for Brazil to do? Many think that Spain/Barca have perfected "tika taka" and that the only way to beat them is to come up with something different.

    And if they are committed to change surely the team should be built around Ganso?



  • Comment number 15.

    Brazilian Federation: seriously you are cancelling matches against Italy and Spain in favor of Egypt and Costa Rica?
    Who are you trying to fool? Whose jobs are you trying to save?

    If I was a Brazilian, I'd hit the 'Panic' button real soon...

  • Comment number 16.

    Post 8 Global Inc,so agree with you,next to nothing on Copa America,BBC more interested in showing mindless friendlies in USA eg Man Utd vs Seattle Sounders.Eventually showed the Quater final high lights,I rang in and complained to the Sports Dept.Why is there an African section on BBC/football? Not a S.American section,think how many S.American players have played a part in EPL and lower league football/

    I support the Shots aka Aldershot Town we have a Venezuelan Ruiz,who I have asked Tim about ,he is back at the Shots after a spell at a Venezuelan team. It's thanks to Tim and Sports Illustrated that I have found about S.American football.

    I finally got to see my teen idols,Boca Juniors two weeks ago at the Emirates,I have the ultimate souvenir scarf.Arsenal vs Boca Juniors on one side and New York Red Bulls vs Paris St Germain on the other!

    U20 World Cup on British Euro Sport hasd been fab,there could have been 4 S.American teams in the Quater final Ecuador should have beaten France. who went on to defeat Nigeria who knocked out England.who had been denied up to 30 players.Very interested to se how many young players are given the chance to play in the Olympics Club vs Country?

  • Comment number 17.

    15 - a fascinating development, Brazil choosing to play Gabon rather than Italy and Spain - it goes against everything that Mano Menezes has been saying about the need for high profile opponents.
    It does take the pressure off him, though - unless Brazil lose, of course - but more than that in Brazil it's being interpreted as a move by CBF boss Ricardo Teixeira to take pressure off himself - when the national team are doing badly, his administration always comes more under the microscope.

  • Comment number 18.

    There is strong evidence of the past say 25 years that the easy on the eye, pretty passing and beautiful to watch football is just that and no more. Argentina's senior team has played that way and has won nothing for the past 18 years. Spain's most recent successes at the Euros and World Cup does not hide their history of choking in major tournaments. The Dutch? nothing won since 1988. At the club level Barcelona is the exception but we can point out Arsenal's failure to win with a similar style of play.

    My point is that Brazil had to abandon a style of play that was not producing the results they wanted. An ugly win is always better than a pretty loss. I get really annoyed hearing some commentators talking about Brazil as if the team still plays the pretty football of 1982. The last World Cup that Brazil played similar to 1982 was 1986. I hope whoever ends up coaching Brazil for 2014 will have found a balance between a creative midfield and a counter-attacking style.

  • Comment number 19.

    The most important thing is for the national team to involve. They have to find their identity. I don't care if it's against Gabon or Italy. Sorry. Brazil have faced off against some of the best teams in the world -- and some average opponents. So, what's the issue if they face Mexico, Costa Rica, Switzerland/England, Gabon, and one more team now that Egypt can't play? Those are all World Cup caliber teams. Yes, even Gabon. They are certainly a possibility to qualify. So what's the issue?

    I mean, did Brazil really even learn anything from the Germany friendly? I will give you an emphatic NO. The game played out exactly like it was going to. And half of the players starting had experience against quality opponents. So.... It's going to be an evolution process and I think Brazil will definitely get there with these friendlies in the final 4 months of the calendar year -- and in the Olympics, where I predict we'll see about 8-10 players ultimately make it to the senior team for the Olympics.

  • Comment number 20.

    How on earth does Leandro Damiao not get into the Brazil line up? In my opinion he is a perfect number 9 (something Pato isn't). I can honestly see him + Neymar + Pato causing a certain amount of devestation next year.

    Also Tim, what has been the response in Brazil towards Edmar choosing to play for the Ukraine? (He made his debut last mid-week).

  • Comment number 21.

    To react to a 2-3 defeat in a one-off Cup game when you were the superior team against the eventual World Champions (who I think they were playing because Italy had just scraped through from the first round-I remember Italy 0-0 v Cameroon)for who destiny appeared to have intervened that day, by abandoning all the years of beautiful football that had brought you to that point seems rather drastic knee-jerkism and stereotypically Latin-American. In the same mould as the Argentine coach and team parted waves after he inexplicably abandoned the tactics that had been so successful up to the Germany game in 2006.

    World Cups are largely knockout tournaments, not 8 month long leagues where the cream eventually rises to the top. The chances of upsets are incresed. Wouldn't it have been better for Brazil and Argentina just to accept it was just one of those days, and if they could play the games again, they might have reversed the results and the patience would have been worth it in the long run, a la Ferguson?

    After 1994 and 2002, Brazil might say they have been vindicated, but with the players they had playing for them, I'm not convinced. Oh for another Socrates!

  • Comment number 22.

    Have to echo 8's sentiments - I've never commented on your blog Tim until now, but have to say that every single article is relevant, well thought through and well executed.

    I like to read about your experiences of South American football as I'm out in Cambodia trying to coach a local team, and the climate is also tropical and thus requires a very different approach to "4-4-2" or "4-3-3" that they all want to try and play here after watching the BPL each week. Those styles in 30-40c heat just don't work, and it is very frustrating to try to explain how great the old Brazil teams were at handling this climate and combining it with great football. I've turned them from being a good side labouring to 4-3, 3-2 wins, etc - to a team that is winning 3-0, 2-0 without breaking a sweat, etc just by implementing the slow patient style that I saw Brazil play in '82 (albeit bizarrely with a sweeper to stop them playing offside also - not a 4-2-2-2!)

    I'd dearly love some scouts to pop out here sometime and see some of the talent that the country has, there are hardly any 6ft players, but there are a wealth of 5ft Maradona-esque geniuses who combine great skill with some of the grit and determination they see from English players in the BPL (No Joey Barton antics yet though I'm pleased to say!). Sadly none of them will ever make it to the big time, the facilities in country are diabolical to say the least - even the national stadium has a lower quality pitch than my school in the UK, and the nearby leagues in Thailand or Vietnam are not likely to be a stepping stone anytime soon.

    Ah well, I'm off to fish out some videos of the early Brazil teams to further inspire my troops, thanks for the nostalgia; fantastic blog.

  • Comment number 23.

    At 07:49 16th Aug 2011, SimplyZola wrote:

    Also Tim, what has been the response in Brazil towards Edmar choosing to play for the Ukraine? (He made his debut last mid-week).


    I'm sure that Brazilian football fans will be gutted that their national team has missed out on the world class talent of Metalist Kharkiv's 31-year old Edmar.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi. I have lived in Brasil for a number of years - from Rio down to Sao Paulo. My theory on why the Brasilian natonal team just hasn't been at the forefront of football anymore. It's the quality of coaching / managing. European football, has improved dramatically, because the managers have chipped away over the years, watching other great teams, and really focusing on how the game works. I watch the national league here - and its a far cry from the quality of the national leagues in Europe - and I don't feel it's because there aren't enough great players - just no-one to really steer them in the right direction. Barcelona aren't just great because of the players in the team - its been the quality of coaching and management over the last 15 years that's played a major part.

  • Comment number 25.

    I was interested in Angel Cappa's way of describing the way in which the 1982 Brazil team used to play. I lived in Brazil at the time and watched all the warm-up games at the Maracana stadium in which they demolished every opponent without breaking sweat. During the World Cup I was invited by a family I didn't really know very well to see the team thrash Italy. They never spoke to me again. In the rest of the country no one could quite believe what had happened. To me it's really sad that the brilliance of Cerezo, Falcao, Zico, Socrates and Eder are never mentioned in the same breath as Pele, Gerson, Jairzinho and co. The 1982 team were simply the best. Watching them you really did want time to stand still.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hi Tim, nice and nostalgic article. However Brazil don't have the players of the calibre of Zico, Socrates, Falcao and the rest anymore. Ganso, Leiva and the other midfielders are very average. Watching them against Germany, it seemed Brazil were more effective on the counter attack where both Neymar and Pato had good chances to score. Mano seems to be confused with the number of players he is trying out. He seems to discard many players after one or two games yet he persists with Ganso and Leiva. Even Julio Cezar looks poor. No proper striker being used. Where is kaka, Juan, Damiao, etc? Mano needs to go and hopefully they need a manager who knows how to mix styles. Teams will defend against Brazil in the WC2014 but Brazil need to draw them out and try to hit them on the counter attack. Paraguay certainly negated Brazil's dominance in Copa America 2011 and Brazil should have changed tactics.

  • Comment number 27.

    15, 17 - It's pretty funny that Brazil are cancelling friendlies with Italy and Spain, lining up Gabon and Costa Rica as replacements, yet they're still prepared to play England.

  • Comment number 28.

    to 20. I am sure any Brazilian would react exactly as I did - Edmar who?!?

  • Comment number 29.

    Brazil's national team have failed to rediscover their past winning formula after World Cup 1982 defeat



    They've won the WC twice since 1982.

    And been runners-up once.

    I wouldn't describe that as failure!?

  • Comment number 30.

    27. When are Brazil playing England?

  • Comment number 31.

    Please can I ask for your support to the following Formula 1 Government Petition
    Please spread the word. Really do need and appreciate your support.
    Thank you.

  • Comment number 32.

    Brazil don't scare anyone anymore, it would always be a damage limitation exercise in the past but now many teams are confident of beating brazil, they know this and will try to get some easy wins under their belt to gain confidence.

  • Comment number 33.

    Brazil 82 my very first world cup I watched on TV. An incredible passing midfield of Zico, Socrates, Falcao and Cerezo, 2 bombing fullbacks in Leandro and Junior, the awesome power shots of Eder, the solid centre backs Luishino and Oscar, the bundling forward in Serginho and the spectator of a goalkeeper in Peres.

    A true class team and if you watch the end of the game of Italy match where they lost to Italy. When everybody else was devastated, Socrates can be seen coolly shaking hands with the Italians. Class act.

  • Comment number 34.

    Early days, but Boca seem to be back to their winning ways. Riquelme has found his form again and seems to be back in the fold for a NT call-up.

  • Comment number 35.

    Perhaps my skepticism might be proved unfounded in the end, but I am always wary of the 'pree agenda'. And unlike many readers on here rushing to give Tim a pat on the back I am rather more circumspect.

    I find it curious that just over a year ago - before the 2010 world cup - Tim was one of the harshest critics of the Dunga team. It didn't matter that they were winning everything despite not having players in the mould of Zico, Socrates or Eder - the won the copa, won the conf cup, qualified for the wc in style, whipped their fiercest rivals argentina twice or so in the space of 3 years etc.

    His contention  (Tim Vickery's) then being that the sytle of play just was not right! Question is - is the style of play right now? Even in the WC I don't think Brazil performed badly at all and going out 2-1 to Holland is no disgrace.

    Indeed Holland went on to progress all the way to the final and could have even won it if the mighty Spain had not stood in the way. I also remember Tim telling us all that players like Neymar and Ganso would have brought all the needed flair to that team and how unforgivable it was to have left them out in favour of Robinho et al.

    Fast forward to today and guess what?

    Ganso and Neymar are in the team

    There still is isn't much flair! Certainly not any more flair than Dunga's team gave us.
    Everyone loved to knock that team but there were not exactly boring as I recall. Comparisons with the 1982 squad were a stupid dream - it's like hoping you will get another Pele. Most annoying of all, Mano Menezes proclaimed as the messiah still plays two defensive midfielders in Lucas Leiva and Ramires and not very good ones either! Well maybe Ramires but he's no Michael Essien either.

    On top of all that, Robinho is still in the team! Why? Because there is no one else.

    How many tried and tested flair players do Brazil currently have? And while we are on the topic of Robinho by the way - approximately 50% of the assists and goal-scoring chances for all of Brazil's goals since the Dunga era have been provided or orchestrated by the supposedly 'inferior' Robinho

    So where does that leave us?

    There is absolutely no doubt that had Dunga been left to continue the excellent work he was doing, that team would be a much better team today.

    All change has to happen gradually. Especially in football see how Sir Alex blends the old and the young (Young?). And look at how long it took Spain to perfect that winning formula.

    Finally, we might want to remind ourselves that Brazil are the greatest team because of how much they have won. Stop winning and nobody cares so much about the flair anymore. No disrespect intended but just look at Arsenal

    Spain have always played with flair - people are now reckoning with them only because they have now discovered a winning formula

  • Comment number 36.

    #25 Spot on! I also think they were pretty good in 86, the quarter final against France where they lost on penalties is one of the classic games of all time.

  • Comment number 37.

    Brazil '82 were a joy to watch, and so are Spain and Barcelona today. To me, it is less about how they play and more about the players. Technical ability is everything in football. If you have 6 or 7 players who have the technical ability that the Brazil team or current Barcelona team possess, you could play any system and come out on top. The Brazil midfield of '82, the Barcelona midfield, players such as Zidane, David Silva, Modric etc, have outstanding technical ability and, as a result, confidence on the ball. That is what makes the difference. The Brazil teams of recent have been short of top notch technical players. They have tried to be fuctional, like Gemany, which has worked for them to some extent, given that they have won two world champoinships since '82.

  • Comment number 38.

    sorry I meant 'press agenda'

  • Comment number 39.

    In Barbados we call Lucas Leiva the guyanese brasilian(no offense to Guyana).......he's clearly rubbish. Hard to build a winner when the coach can't tell who can play football

  • Comment number 40.

    35. A really good point. it wasn't just Tim, but most of the press that that were complaining about Dunga's Brazil. Dunga did the best with what was available and if it weren't for the slip-up against Holland, who knows what might have happened? Having said that, I think it's only natural for us to dream a Brazil that can put a smile on every football supporter's face again. One thing is for sure, Menezes is lost at sea and there's no passing ship to save him.

  • Comment number 41.

    "I visited Barcelona and watched a training session. Here [in Brazil] if you try to train retaining possession of the ball, the players don’t like it. I see people talking about the way that Barcelona play the ball around, but here in Brazil everyone wants to get the ball and charge forward."

    Sounds like exactly the predicament facing the english national football team!!!

  • Comment number 42.

    Agree with post #35.

    If two possession sides play against each other, which would have more possession? The one that can retake the football! Can win 50/50 balls and physical disputes.

    This Brazilian side has a huge problem with the physical side of the game, especially up front! The short pacy Brazilian forwarders vanish without spaces. They don't win 50/50 balls either. That's why they have lost to every major side under Mano.

    BTW, Hulk is a good alternative (right now) over Robinho. Leandro Damiao, Neymar, and Ganso are good bets for 2014, but that's how far I'd go... bets!

  • Comment number 43.

    Tim: Can you help please.

    Can you provide the stats for Luis Suarez penalty kicks? How many, made, missed. If not, can you point me to a website that has them.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Comment number 44.

    At the start, I was really impressed with Mano's side (against USA).

    However, game by game, I'm starting to lose confidence. All the forwards have no tracking back capability (pato, neymar, robinho, ganso) and this is putting too much strain on the defensive midfielders. Pato has been awful and is probably going to be dropped. Dani Alves has similarly been awful, as has Andre Santos. I would defintely say that watching dunga's brasil was far better than watching this brasil!

    Comparing any team to the Brasil 82 side is however unjust on the 82 side! Best team never to win a World Cup. Enchanting, majestic, etc, etc Even though the current Spain side have proved themselves no. 1, they are not in the same league as Brasil 82 if you are talking style/ entertainment. Spain at the World Cup were at times boring to watch, possession footbal with no teeth. Can't ever recall thjat feeling when watching Eder, Socrates, Cerezo, Falcao, Junior, et al (although I do recall a certain Serginho....)

  • Comment number 45.

    OK, i'm a miserable b*#!*%d I admit, so on this occasion I have to say "Great blog!". This really is what I read for.

    Calls for Ronaldinho to waddle out for the 2014 world cup really don't interest me, but this week's blog provided a great insight into Brasil's football culture & mentality. Provided readers with new knowledge & understanding, rather than just spouting the author's opinion. Excellent stuff. Can every writer's blog and every week be like this please?!!

    & as for my contribution - Brasil are clearly lacking the players of previous generations. A lot of talent that seems to think they're super stars before they've actually achieved anything.

  • Comment number 46.

    @ 35. "There is absolutely no doubt that had Dunga been left to continue the excellent work he was doing, that team would be a much better team today".

    How true. Got sympathy for the guy. He was given a rough ride by all and sundry for douring Brazil's style, but at least they were competitive. Ironic really that at a time when football is reawakening to the values of possessional play, Brazil are leaning towards power, pace and directness. However as some have mentioned, you can only select what you have. And as good as Leiva and Ramires may be on occasion are they really likely to propel the team forward? Likewise Robinho, creative - yes, worldbeater - no.

  • Comment number 47.

    On a side note, I watched some of the Copa America and thought Pato wasn't as bad as some may suggest. (Not on top form admittedly, but then who was?) He's a lethal finisher on his day but despite bulking up since his arrival in Italy I still wonder if he's strong enough to lead the line for Brazil. I see him playing better as support striker where a more physical presence alongside can do the dirty work for him.

  • Comment number 48.

    Brazil have totally lost their way recently. Their neurosis about the national side being "un-Brazilian" is starting to look a bit like England's self-disgust at our own style. They should never have sacked Dunga.

  • Comment number 49.

    Tim quick question? Do you think Ganso could fit into Arsenals way of play & do you think he could blossom like Cesc did with Wengers guidance??

    Secondly let me get straight to an annoying point, SPAIN and Barcelona's hi-jacking of the fluent passing game!!

    Pep did not invent this style neither did he introduce it to the world or the other side of the pond, Arsene Wenger's Invincibles played beautiful carpet football before Barca & Spain so please stop refering to them as if they're the inventors. I'm not saying Wenger invented possesion soccer but he was the first to drum out success and admiration from this style of soccer when everyone else was not so keen on doing it. Yes Barca has more trophies but all that tells me is that Wenger may need to look a little harder for a higher quality and calibre of player to find the success he deserves. Pound for pound the current Barca team heavily outweigh the invincibles in the quality department hence "they have more success in Europe". Estudiantes had more possesion than Barca when they lost to Barca in the Fifa World Club Cup, the stats were Barca 38% - Est 62%. Where in Europe do you find stats like that?? Nowhere.

    Why did a South American teams have more possesion than Barca, well it's in their nature to play like this i.e. the style/type of soccer of a nation is determined by the country's climate. The reason for this is simple, in a hot & humid climate ameature players (i say ameature bcoz you're an ameature before you turn pro & pro player get told how to play by their pro coaches) ameature players do not want to run for 90 minutes nun stop in the heat, so they have to pace themselves not to burn out, hence the slowing down of the game which furthermore leads to the development of natural technique because you now have to hold onto the ball and dribble a few player to keep the possesion & this is how DRIBBLING WIZARDS like MESSI, Marodonna, Denilson & Ronaldinho are created.

    Add to this the economic status of the majority of the population e.g. POVERTY and high population and then you have a stimulus multiplying effect.Poor kids don't have playstations & extra mural activities at school.. they have but one past time and that is the local soccer game in the streets or some sand pitch where they have to compete with fifty other poor kids to play and this is all they know along with the favourite team/club they support & favourite professional player & then along comes the copy cats of Europe trying to teach SA players how to

  • Comment number 50.

    Tim, I'm sorry, but you're just plain wrong here. The philosophy and mentality of brazilian football coaches and players never changed at all. I am brazilian, but I'm not taking a side here when I'm saying that you simply don't know what you're talking about. I mean no disrespect with this remark, I'm stating this because I have a very good reason to say it.
    Dunga's team used a cautious and counter-attacking approach. However, the previous coach, Carlos A. Parreira, rather preferred a ball possession style and extremely offensive formation, that was nicknamed here in Brasil as the "quadrado mágico", or "magical square" if literally translated to english. A formation that had Ronaldinho, Kaká, Zé Roberto, Adriano and Ronaldo simultaneously, all offensive minded players and the majority without any defensive assignment. Actually, all teams coached by Parreira follow the idea of ball possession, even when they aren't all-out attacking like that one was.
    How come then that Brasil abandoned the possession playing style since 1982?
    And this team won the Confederations Cup with a crushing 4-1 win against Argentina. That team went to Germany as clear cut favourites. May I remind you that Parreira was the coach in 1994 as well?
    And when they failed to win, although it seems like this is not the same perception abroad, here in Brasil, the blame was to the lack of work ethic and responsability from some players that they didn't showed tenacity and will to fight back when losing against France.
    Ronaldo was overweight, Ronaldinho has an iresponsible personality, Adriano probably were already having issues with alcohol at that time and so on. Those were blamed for the failure.
    And to answer to that, Dunga, known as a strict and hard working person was called to the job. It wasn't related to the playing style, to the tactics, formations or anything like that.
    And the fans never approved Dunga's team, even though it was winning. Here, this is how it works. Winning isn't enough. Even 1994 team under Parreira, is still heavily criticized, because it didn't play beautiful, although it tried to keep ball possession, it also wasn't very incisive.
    Learn this: Brasil will never stop believing in the "futebol arte". For better or for worse, I'm not even trying to defend that this belief is a good one. If you don't even know what those words mean, then, honestly, I strongly suggest you stop talking about brazilian football.

  • Comment number 51.

    The support for Dunga astonishes me.

    His team was fine when the opposition took the attack to it (for example when Uruguay dominated them in Montevideo, only to concede four goals on the counter-attack).

    But Dunga's team was entirely reliant upon the invention of Kaka and right-wing thrusts by Maicon. Other South American teams wised up after Uruguay's act of suicide in that 0-4 World Cup qualifier.

    It is interesting that Texeira has replaced matches against Spain and Italy with a Gabon fixture. I think all of us are starting to realise that Brazil simply don't have the quality to win the 2014 World Cup, and that we have another Maracanazo to look forward too.

  • Comment number 52.

    Jogo_Bonito wrote:
    "Hi Tim, nice and nostalgic article. However Brazil don't have the players of the calibre of Zico, Socrates, Falcao and the rest anymore. Ganso, Leiva and the other midfielders are very average."

    I agree with this statement.

    Brazils current crop of central midfielders are limited footballers.

    Leiva, Ramires, Fernandinho, Ralf etc. lack technical nous and creativity imo.

    If Brazil wish to compete with teams like Spain or mimic their 82 side, they must address the way they develop players in the centre of midfield.

    Can anyone name a central midfielder from the under-23, under-20 or under-17 ranks who is capable of passing the ball well and plays with creativity and invention?

  • Comment number 53.

    Interesting blog. I'm not sure whether Brazil can ever recapture the free-flowing samba nature of the '82 side. That style of football is gone now forever at the top level although Barcelona (and to a lesser extent Spain) have mimicked part of the style with thier tiki-taka possession style.

    For a reminder of what the '82 side were all about here's a great compilation on You Tube:

  • Comment number 54.

    At 03:08 17th Aug 2011, pnefdt wrote:
    Secondly let me get straight to an annoying point, SPAIN and Barcelona's hi-jacking of the fluent passing game!!

    Pep did not invent this style neither did he introduce it to the world or the other side of the pond, Arsene Wenger's Invincibles played beautiful carpet football before Barca & Spain so please stop refering to them as if they're the inventors. I'm not saying Wenger invented possesion soccer but he was the first to drum out success and admiration from this style of soccer when everyone else was not so keen on doing it


    Utter Rubbish. When did you start watching football, in 1998?

    Check out the Ajax 1995 team, Cruyff's Barcelona 1989-1994 (In fact any club or international side that Cruyff worked with), Netherlands 88, Denmark 86, France 84, Brazil 1982, etc etc for examples of quality passing football and exceptional flair, and some of those sides even won trophies. The football world does not revolve around Arsene Wenger's 'philosophy' unless you're the most blinkered Gooner and although he's a fine coach I would argue he is not one of the game's innovators either, I can't think of any new tactical style or formation that he has introduced.

  • Comment number 55.

    let's not forget that since Brazil adopted this more "pragmatic" style, it has been the most successful team in the world. Since 1990, when the national team was more Minelli and Enio Andradish, they have won more Copa Americas than anyone, won more Confederations Cup than anyone and won more World Cups than anyone! Not to mention in Club level, despite Boca Juniors' amazing generation+coach in the early 2000's, Brazil has won more Libertadores in the last 20 years than Argentina.

    Yes, Brazil has lost the last two World Cups, but they reached 3 finals in a row in a very recent past. So why is Spain's system a "trophy collector" as you said and Brazil's is a failure? Just because it doesn't look so good? Brazil's club football is arguably in it's most successful era, despite having to sell their best players. Much more money is being received, and less and less they are having to base their economy on the selling of players, with marketing + "socios" and sponsorship+tv money.

    Let us not forget Tim, you cannot bake omelets without eggs. Spain doesn't have black, strong, explosive atheltes, they will always have to base their game in the tiki taka model (unless they continue stealing Brazilian players like Thiago and Rodri, heheh), which is absolutely sexy to watch, I admit. Brazil has very explosive athletes, and the Brazilian league is one of the fastest in the world, and like you said, ball possession isn't the main goal for most coaches. Successful Muricy Ramalho has stated a billion times that he doesn't like too much ball possession and he prefers to steal the ball closer to the goal and get there quick.

    Let's not forget that ball possession isn't the only way to play football. Spain has been winning things for how many years? They are feeding themselves on their golden generation, whilst Brazil is currently on a transition phase where there are projects of great players but no Ronaldos and Ronaldinhos. And the U20 match showed that the upcoming generation of Brazil are slightly better than Spain's.

    Let's not get too apocalyptical here, football is a game of styles, but the players are what make it successful. Spain is in their by far best generation and will be successful. A quick fact for you, Manchester United absolutely trashed Shalcke 04 in the UCL with much less ball posession in the 180 minutes. Let us wait for the Oscar's Neymar's Pato's get older and make a better analysis. Cheers

  • Comment number 56.


    I am leaning towards agreeing with you, you've made many valid points and on the whole I feel from reading many of Tim's articles that for some curious reason he is usually quite pro-Argentinian and rather anti-Brazilian considering he lives in Brazil.

    I am not Brazilian by the way, I am not even from the continent but I feel we owe a lot of the beauty of today's football to south americans. Lefty to Europeans, the whole emphasis would be on effectiveness and practicality. Even Barcelona - depite all their passing artistry - are still missing the flicks, tricks and moments of sheer artistic audacity that you would tend to see from the south americans, even africans.

    Having said that, I do agree that Brazilians are entitled to dream on about about the re-emergence of "futebol arte". Who knows? We may yet witness that level of brilliance again.

    On the topic of Dunga, most people would agree with the benefit of hindsight that he did very well indeed considering the resources available to him. I am not saying he is the best manager Brazil ever had, but I feel he has not received any credit for the excellent work he did and has received too much criticism, too much blame and unwarranted hostility given what he achieved in a relatively short space of time. To put things in perpective, an England manager with the same achievement would have undoubtedly been knighted!

    I realise Brazilians feel entitled to win all things at all times playing the footballing equivalent of the harlem globetrotters. They must accept that this will not happen
    all the time. Sometimes, just winning is enough

  • Comment number 57.

    Oh, and I totally disagree with my fellow Brazilian #50 speler87

    He is one of the reason we can't progress. Brazilian fans and commentators are blind. They can only speak in lyrical terms like "futebol arte" "futebol bonito" and don't know nothing about strategy and tactics. If 2006 Brazil was so "jogo bonito" Why did we have less ball posession than Ghana? BECAUSE PARREIRA'S DEFENCE ALWAYS SEAT DEEP. CAN'T YOU LEARN THAT? WE NEVER CONTROLLED THE GAMES AT ALL. THE TEAM WAS AS COUNTER-ATTACKING AS EVER. But if you say "deep defence" in Brazil nobody will understand you. The best footballing countries is composed by ignorants of football, thank god for our coaches, becasue the fans and commentators are HORRIBLE

  • Comment number 58.

    What a uniquely objective and brilliant perspective you bring to this discourse! I have to say thank you!

    Really appreciate the deeply thought out and well articulated contribution

  • Comment number 59.

    joao ddm I agree with many of the things you said, but to show such arrogance and contempt to other comments, only to then come and state that "Brazil's club football is arguably in its most successful period" is laughable. At best, supported by the economic factors you mentioned, it is recovering from a pretty bleak period.

  • Comment number 60.

    50 - Parreira's magic quartet side of 2006 was totally counter- attacking. The false hopes generated by this side came from the final of the Confederations Cup in 2005, when they ripped apart an understrength, tired Argentina team that pressed forward and were taken apart on the counter. I remember Pekerman, Argentina's coach after the match - "Brazil are not what people think they are," he said, "they don't seek to dominate - they lay back and go on the counter with fantastic pace. They win the ball 20 metres deep in their own half and for them it's a goal opportunity" - please note that he was not criticising.

    My arguments on Brazil's style are based on prolonged contact with coaches - the lack of midfield passing has been debated annually by the top rank Brazilian coaches in an annual conference. You bring nothing to the debate apart from saying that you are Brazilian. Thank you and good night.

    Please note, I'm not making value judgements here - which is where our wayward friend Mr Dazz is yet again confused. I'm not necessarily saying that any one method is better than the other.

    The omelettes and eggs argument - is more chicken and egg. The reason that Brazil are struggling to produce players who can play through the midfield (and part of the reason for the idolatry of Ganso is that it's so long since a similar type of player came through) is that, as stated in the article, this has not been the objective. The reason that Barcelona have so many players of this type is the opposite - the idea comes first.

  • Comment number 61.

    Dear Mr Vickery

    I find it curious that you would think I am confused and wayward simply because I express a different opinion.

    Perhaps you would get more respect from readers if you showed more respect for other contributors. We don't all have to agree - we can celebrate our differences.

    Referring to a contributor as wayward and confused is almost a thinly veiled insult and it is unneccessary. We don't all have to agree with and suck up to you.

    On a different but still similar note, I have read many blogs referring to 'playing football the right way'. What is the right way? This modern view that everyone should follow the same pattern is strange.

    We are all different. It does not make one superior or another inferior and we should celebrate rather than criticise the variety. In atheltics for example, how many blacks do you see winning the swimming or gymnastic events and how many whites do you see winning the sprints. God has blessed differnt peoples with different strenths and everyone must play to their respective strengths.

    In England for example, we will always have a physical element to our game and even flair players like Fabregas and Silva have learnt to add that extra bit of physical toughness to their game. Not everyone will play football like Spain and I could argue that Chile play a more exciting and attacking brand of football.

    We must stop this fixation with tiki-taka and appreciate that there will be a mix of talents. As long as people play within the rules of the game, I'm fine with it. If everyone played the same way football would become very boring indeed.

  • Comment number 62.


    The best performance of the ganso-neymar duo was against USA in a friendly. USA marking was very poor and both players were free to create at will. However, every time they faced tough defenses they struggled.

    1. Perhaps they are still too green?
    2. Perhaps the fact they play in Brazil leaves them unprepared to handle faster-paced and physically tougher matches?

    Barcelona/spain midfield comprises experienced 30-year old players who are playing the best football of their careers. Brazilian midfield comprises players who have not yet reached their potential (whether that's going to happen is a diff discussion).

    In addition to the aforementioned, like I said before, this Brazil side is too one-dimensional with pacey lightweight players. The same criticism can be made of Barca and Spain, but they overcome that shortcoming with quality. Inter showed that it is possible to beat them playing a very different style, more like Brazil 1994.

    This is probably my favorite thing about football: there are so many ways and variations to play the game. There is no better way (personal preference aside), just more effective which is always relative to the characteristics of the players and circumstances.

  • Comment number 63.

    Tim, I have to disagree with you again. I know you're not misinformed and I'm sure, since the first time I've read this arcticle, that you have some reason and some evidence to have come to those conclusions. But that doesn't mean you're right. I think you're "seeing the forest for the trees" here.

    In Brasil there are coaches that have their own ideas of how the game should be played. Dunga's had his, Branco's might have his as well. It doesn't mean this is a trend followed by every other coach.
    Look at how the brazilian clubs play: some play the direct ball, others possession. Most notably, Santos FC, Coritiba and Flamengo, play a possession style. Others, will adopt a more direct style. Usually, when I team lack a true "#10", which for brazilians, a true #10 means a playmaker midfielder similar to Zico.
    There is no such a thing as trend for directness and physicality. I don't care if you attended a meeting with coaches discussing the matter. The reality, the games I watch every week, my own early days in youth teams of a big club of my city, they speak for themselves.

    To say Brasil coaches are looking out for big and strong players, yet all the latest top prospects are scrawny little kids, is a bit controversial, don't you agree, Tim Vickery? What do you think of it? Neymar, Pato, Ganso, Robinho... Very big and physical, I see. What is the issue, you think brazilians have issues with famine or anything, so these are the biggest we can get?

    As for Parreira's Brasil being "totally counter-attacking", that is just untrue, again, especially the "totally" part. And honestly, misinformed about the subject as a whole, because I would come to those conclusions as well, if I had watched only the game against Argentina in the finals of the Confederations Cup.
    But them, you got to understand that the "quadrado mágico" was meant to be a ball possession style. If it failed to be like that in many situations, them, that's another story. It failed because Ronaldinho failed with the national team and he's still deemed as a large dissapointment, although everyone seems to be okay with giving him another chance.

    The game against Germany, in the same Confederations Cup, Brasil showed that they could play with a possession style. A home game against Colombia during the World Cup qualifiers, showed that Parreira's team could play with a lot of passing.
    During the World Cup of 2006, the team was having issues maintaining possession. The possibility of Juninho Pernambucano becoming a starter in the team was a major debate at the time. Are you aware that this even happened?
    Against Japan during the group phase, Brasil had a lot more ball possession than in any other game, but the issue with the option of playing Juninho, was to bench one of the stars of the team, namely, Kaká, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo or Adriano. And Parreira simply isn't tough enough to bar one of the stars of his team.

    But we are talking about 2006 failed experiment.

    What about 1998 team? Was it a direct style football as well, Tim Vickery? What about 2002 champions? Are you really sure that Brasil changed their mentality to a direct and speed style of play? Or it was only during Dunga's tenure?

    Mind you that Dunga was HEAVILY criticised for his playing style. Why didn't they said the same about Zagallo's team? Why they didn't said the same about Parreira's team? Why only Dunga's team was tagged as "unbrazilian" Tim Vickery?

    Can you answer any of those questions?

    What I clearly see, is that coaches and the media discuss a lot about the lack of a true "#10", that the team had to adapt to the fact there isn't a #10 genius available. That guys like Diego, former Santos, and Alex, Fenerbahçe player, failed to become what was expected of them.

    My opinion on this matter, is that Brasil's generation isn't good enough or simply, is unproved. Maybe in a few years, Neymar, Ganso and the others will become equivalent players to Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Romário, but for now, there's nobody to take on their roles for the national team.
    Ronaldinho failed. Kaká is having too many injury problems. Diego, Robinho, Daniel Carvalho, Vágner Love, all greatly promising players, they all took bad career decisions, they all failed to become what was expected of them.

    Again, I still don't believe you know what you're talking about at all. Since 1982 Brasil left out the idea of having an offensive minded team that controls the possession through the game? False.

    Don't know what or whom led you to believe that, but that person was wrong.

  • Comment number 64.

    I'm entirely with 62 on this - one of the great things about football, one of the reasons for its global success, is that it can be interpreted in so many different ways. 61 has perhaps interpreted me wrongly on this point - and the wayward remark, see last week's debate re my writings on Ganso - nothing to do with differences of opinion - all are welcome. But last week you wanted me to apologise for something I'm not guily of - I'm more than happy to admit my many errors.

    63 - Less important than the number 10 in this debate is the player behind him - the key to the 82 side was Falcao and Toninho Cerezo, the circulation of the ball from the centre of midfield. Who are their successors? Hard to find. I asked Zagallo a few years back why this tradition of superb all round central midfielders had come to an end - he just shrugged and said that these days Brazilian coaches were paying more attention to marking.

    I've mentioned this here before, but I've always been struck by the last paragraph in the autobiography of the great Zizinho - written himself, no ghost writers involved. It came out in the mid 80s, and the last line is a lament that Brazilian football was in the process of transforming the central midfield from creative positions into destructive ones.

    It is hard to see how you or anyone else could deny that this trend has indeed taken place - and, back to the no right or wrong way of playing idea - Brazil have been very successful with it. But, for all his defensive virtues, compare Gilberto Silva with Clodoaldo, or Falcao or Toninho Cerezo - clearly you get a different type of game.

    2006 - one of the reasons it didn't work was that the team was top heavy - Ronaldinho had to come back very deep to get the play working, and picking options from deep had never been his game.

    The most significant change that Mano Menezes has made is the replacement of Gilberto Silva as the holding midfielder by Lucas Leiva. This is because, he says, of a need to change the style of the team to something more in line with the traditional Brazilian taste. These are his words! Before the Spain game in the World Youth Cup Brazil coach Ney Franco talked about the current quest of the Brazil team at all levels to "rediscover the tradition of their game."

    This is not me saying this - it's not some Anglo-inspired anti-Brazil plot. This is coming from Brazil's coaching staff.

  • Comment number 65.

    i regularly read your blog tim, and this has to be the best piece for me. really insightful, probing questions and issues surrounding my beloved brasil selecao right now. this team does not look on course, let alone ready for copa 2014. i still adhere to brasilian footballing philosophy which used to emphasize build up passing play from the center of mid field...but this current team does not even look capable of counter attacking with effect. the performance of the u-20s was great though, and while its true spain played their short passing game and appeared dominant, the moves forward and attacking intent was no less so exhibited by the young brasilians. some of the build up play was quite neat, even if counter attacking was the main weapon. seeing barca and spain playing the passing game so well leads me to believe it is still a concept that can be employed in modern game. and no better proponents than brasil who CAN do it if they can get their true identity back. i hope the canarinho can get on track quickly the youth is promising, and hopefully the coaching will also improve in the next year. FORCA BRASIL


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

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