*Welcome back to MTJAG. Just a few more days to the biggest stage of them all. We’ll be previewing some of the biggest teams here in detail, profiling the players, and providing fake interviews with them. Be sure to check in everyday!
You know the drill. The only team to have qualified for all the WC editions so far, Brazil have more than just a name to live upto. Expected to win and win in style every single time they take the pitch, the pressures are typically enormous. But Brazil have more often than not lived up to expectations, and produced some brilliant teams and players. Be it the immortal Pele, Rivelino, Jairzinho of the 60s and 70s , with the wonderfully named Socrates, Zico in the 80s, Romario and the cradle-celebrating Bebeto of the 90s, and the magnificent Ros (Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Robinho) and Kaka of the last and this decade, Brazil typically have some outstanding talent that capture the imagination of the world and make them the most popular national team around.
After a sedate start in the grueling South American qualifying format, Dunga and Brazil got their act together and ended up qualifying with ease, the result coming with a fruitful 3-1 win over Argentina at Rosario. Fabiano top scored for the canary stars with 9 goals during qualifying. Kaka and Nilmar followed suit with 5 goals each.
Despite some tremendous success after taking on the head coach position, Dunga has still a subject of great criticism by the fanatical Brazilian supporters everywhere. A confederations cup, Copa America win, topping the WC qualification with convincing wins over arch rivals Argentina is still not enough to please the supporters because of the manner in which Brazil has been playing. You remember the fab Brazil team of 1982? How about the more recent 2006 with the Ronaldinho, Robinho, kaka , (the original) Ronaldo and Juninho? Well this one’s not your daddy’s team anymore. Gone are those big names and fancy footwork. Dunga, much like the player he was when he lifted the big price in 1994, has gambled on what he believes will be effective and not what people believe will be beautiful. In the process, he has left out the creative genius of Ronaldinho, the dangerous Adriano, the flair of Pato, the promising Neymar and opted to build a team on a strong defensive philosophy and sprinkled a few star players. That the 23-man squad consists of 4 strikers and only 2 attack-minded midfielders should tell you a story.
Strategy and Line-Up
Don’t let the defensive philosophy fool you into thinking it’s not effective though. In their qualifying campaign, Brazil scored the most goals (33), and conceded the least (11)! It’s a team that is defensively water-tight, and relies on a blistering counter-attacking formation. The Brazil of today employs a 4-4-2 kind of formation, which often ends up looking like a 4-3-1-2.
Julio Cesar, the backbone of Inter’s team mans the posts. In defense, Bastos, Juan, Lucio and Maicon start from left to right, with the wing-backs Bastos and Maicon given license to absolutely race along the sidelines to support the attack (think Roberto Carlos – on both sides).
Philippe Melo and Gilberto are the 2 defensive midfielders, both playing the holding roles with a defensive mindset, ensuring that thier duties remain as defense first, and then attack.. Ramirez and Kaka play a little further up, with Kaka given a somewhat free role to drift into the centre forward position (which is why he gets quite a lot of goals), and Ramirez allowed to cover the right wing. Robinho patrols the left flank and Fabiano plays as the lone man up front.
The Brazil of today involves a lot less trickery and a lot more discipline. Imagine that 1 of the midfielders is always there for the empty pass. When in possession, you’ll often see kaka drift further up front, Robinho drifting inward and Maicon going further up to ensure that Brazil keep possession . If the opposition gets caught on a counter, expect to see Robinho, Kaka and Maicon break on a blistering pace. There will be just 2-3 passes, with Robinho, Kaka and Fabiano interlinking to finish. This is their preferred way of catching the opponents, as demonstrated in the manner in which Argentina was decimated with 2 quick counter-strikes. Elano might come in for Ramirez, and Nilmar (one to keep an eye on) may come in for one of the DMs if Brazil falls behind early.
In summary, team 2010 is very adaptive and disciplined. With speed in the flanks, physique and stamina in the center, they have the ability to soak up pressure, and wait for the right moment to dismantle.
Brazil is in this edition’s “Group of Death” (group G) . They start the campaign against the little known North Koreans on 15th June before taking on the Drog and Ivory Coast. CR17 and Portugal will be the opponents on the final game on the 25th of June. They’d do well to top this tough group , and they’d hopefully avoid the Spaniards from Group H and set up a more favorable clash against Chile. If they get through that, it might set up a mouth-watering clash against Holland.
In recent times,it’s the most effective tournament team that wins cups, and not necessarily the most attractive ones. Take 1986- it was Maradona and a few others. Brazil of 1994 – Romario and Bebeto led a dull but disciplined Brazilian team to glory. In 1998, France only had the star-power of Zidane. In 2006, nobody thought Italy would win it, but they did, despite some extremely impressive teams on paper (Brazil, Argentina etc). Dunga has molded this Brazilian team in a similar manner, built it around the effective DMs and relying on the skill and speed of Kaka, Robinho up front. These bunch of players seem to enjoy the system too, often surpassing their club form. Fabiano, Silva, and even the oft-criticized Julio Baptista are far more effective in the Canary Yellow.
Oh by the way, the only exception to the above rule? Brazil itself in 2002.