Gazeta Brasil

Good evening, dear readers. As you may or may not have noticed, I have begun a new video project with the help of Daniel Hunt of Fábrica Media and will start posting our latest videos here on ILFM for all you fine folk to enjoy.

The project is called Gazeta Brasil (which I’m not afraid to admit is a cheap play on Gazzetta Football Italia) and it involves yours truly speaking into a camera each week about all the latest Brazilian football business. We try to film at various interesting spots around São Paulo, like the excellent Mirante 9 de Julho, the Goethe-Institut (with their outstanding currywurst…) and the famous Paribar, and we’ve already got around twelve superb locations lined up for future episodes.

Check out episodes one, two and three and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

However, Daniel and I both have jobs and other commitments, so producing something that requires such preparation and production every single week was always unrealistic. That’s why I created Gazetinha, a concurrent series of simple, up-to-date videos to give you all your weekly fix of Brazilian football. Check out this week’s episode below:

Neither of us receive any sponsorship for these videos, so the best way to help is spreading the word and getting our content out there. Subscribe to our channel. Get your friends to subscribe. Get your parents to subscribe. Create an army of email aliases and get them to subscribe too.

Até mais.

Football in the Era of Enlightenment

Technology has changed our football watching habits. Twitter has consolidated the place of the Minute-by-Minute, arguably the least enjoyable form of match reporting to read (or write), while also opening up a forum for on-the-spot analysis, privileged information from reporters or fans in the stadium, immediate highlights and discussion among fans.

When unable to watch the game on television, Twitter has overtaken radio as the best alternative. Continue reading Football in the Era of Enlightenment

O treinador que não treina

Tenho escrito bastante sobre Marcelo Oliveira, o pressionado técnico do Palmeiras. Seu currículo recente é inegável. Nos últimos três anos ele conquistou três títulos importantes: o bicampeonato nacional pelo Cruzeiro, em 2013 e 2014, e a Copa do Brasil, pelo seu atual clube, no ano passado. Antes das conquistas nacionais, fez um excelente trabalho no Coritiba. Continue reading O treinador que não treina

Corinthians 2-0 São Paulo

During Sunday’s derby between Corinthians and São Paulo, I was Eduardo Galeano’s beggar for beautiful football. Arms outstretched, pleading for “one good move, for the love of God!” Unfortunately, seeing me writhing in desperation on my living room floor, the two teams ignored me completely and proceeded to play one of the dullest matches this year. Continue reading Corinthians 2-0 São Paulo

Robinho’s return

After fulfilling his lifelong dream of sitting on the bench for a Chinese first division club, Robinho is back in Brazil. Though this comes as no shock, the fact he will play for Atlético Mineiro (and not Santos) has raised a few eyebrows.

Robinho’s connection with Santos and their fans is quite spectacular. Having grown up in the nearby town of São Vicente, Robinho joined Santos when he was 12 years old. In 2002, his first season of professional football, he helped take Santos to the Brazilian title, an astonishing achievement considering the club had not won a trophy since 1984 and that their two key players (Robinho and Diego) were teenagers.

On loan from Manchester City, he returned to Santos in 2010 and led the club to two titles: the São Paulo state championship and the Copa do Brasil. Besides the silverware, Robinho’s second spell at Santos was marked by the arrival of a new generation of exciting young talent at the club. Under Robinho’s wing, Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso began to flourish. The following year, with Robinho back in Europe with Milan, Neymar and Ganso took Santos to the Copa Libertadores title.

In 2014, he was back home once more. At 30 years old, Brazilian football fans saw Robinho’s transition from lightning-fast forward to intelligent playmaker. Despite not having the same physical condition as his younger days, Robinho’s vision and reading of the game allowed him to stand out at domestic level. While the club hemorrhaged money and struggled to find any sustainable source of income, Robinho’s exploits on the pitch helped keep the wolves at bay.

Today, with more exciting talents coming through the ranks at Santos, particularly 19 year old forward Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa, was Robinho not tempted to return for a fourth time? One last hurrah? I’d imagine so, but I’m glad he turned them down.

Santos no longer represents a challenge for Robinho, it is his home and the fans adore him unconditionally. Furthermore, during his last stay at Santos he was owed thousands in unpaid wages. Knowing the club was going through hard times and aware of his own financial security, he chose to stay silent while his team-mates took Santos to court. This was a sacrifice he made as a senior player, but returning to the club after what happened would be very strange indeed.

At this stage, it is impossible to know whether Robinho will be a success at Atlético. He has joined a much bigger and more demanding club where he will need to prove his worth.

In 2012, Ronaldinho Gaúcho was in a similar position having joined Atlético. The following year he led the club to their first ever Copa Libertadores triumph, playing his best football since leaving Barcelona.

The Brazilian Premier League

This time last year, in an article entitled “Bom Senso F.C. & a battle for the soul of Brazilian football”, published on Brasil Wire, I wrote about the potential for a breakaway of Brazil’s major clubs from the Jurassic power structure that controls Brazilian football, headed by national and state federations.

In 1992, England’s largest clubs split from the Football League and created the Premier League: a standalone organisation that operated with the interests of clubs in mind. It a short time it became the richest league in world football. Brazilian clubs, by comparison, can claim to hold even more influence than their English counterparts (five teams in Brazil count their fan bases in the tens of millions – Flamengo, Corinthians, São Paulo, Palmeiras and Vasco da Gama), making the need for an independent league even greater. Continue reading The Brazilian Premier League

The One-Eyed Man

The seeing had become purblind so gradually that they scarcely noticed their loss. They guided the sightless youngsters hither and thither until they knew the whole valley marvellously, and when at last sight died out among them the race lived on.

-H.G. Wells, The Country of the Blind

 

After a tense 1-1 draw away to Vasco da Gama on Thursday evening, Corinthians were crowned champions of Brazil for the sixth time in their history. Although they stumbled over the finish line somewhat, helped by second-placed Atlético Mineiro losing 4-2 away to São Paulo, Corinthians have been by far and away the best side in the country and are fully deserving of the trophy.

With three matches left to play, Corinthians have the most points, the most wins, the least defeats, the most goals scored and the least conceded. It is rare in any 38-game football season that one team can express such superiority over the chasing pack.

Tite, Corinthians’ coach, is the talk of the town. This is the second time he has won the championship with the club (the last time coming in 2011, preceding Corinthians’ Copa Libertadores and World Club Cup wins the following year), and it would be hard to look beyond him as the greatest coach in the team’s history.

His intense personality, hyperactive touchline behaviour and apparently innovative coaching methods have endeared Tite not just to Corinthians fans, but to supporters of other clubs too. After Brazil’s embarrassing 7-1 loss against Germany in the 2014 World Cup, he seemed to be the national team’s only choice to replace Luiz Felipe Scolari, and deservedly so.

However, his success overshadows his shortcomings. His coaching career pre-2011 was patchy, and his teams often employ an over-pragmatic approach that is not easy on the eye. Furthermore, his efficiency is based on hours upon hours of work on the training ground, something he would not be offered were he to get the Brazil gig.

H.G. Wells once wrote about a mountain valley in South America, cut off from the rest of the world, that had in it all that the heart of man could desire. The only problem was that the people of this valley suffered from a strange disease that made them, and their children, blind.

He tells the story of a man, “who had been down to the sea and had seen the world, a reader of books in an original way”, who happened upon this Country of the Blind. Discovering that all of its inhabitants were in fact blind, the man garnered aspirations to lead and command them, repeating to himself the old proverb: “In the land of the blind, the One-Eyed Man is king.”

Brazilian football is a modern-day Country of the Blind. After decades of inertia and a dearth of new ideas, the quality of the Brazilian game has suffered greatly. Tactical trends that dominate the highest levels of European football only arrive in Brazil four or five years later. For instance, the idea of high defensive lines is still unthinkable in domestic Brazilian football, with centre-backs long accustomed to playing on the edge of their own penalty box, leaving huge gaps in front of them.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of those involved in Brazilian football are desperate for something new. Tite, Brazil’s One-Eyed Man, went on a Pep Guardiola-inspired sabbatical in 2014, studying strategy and training techniques while spending time with Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti. He has attempted to implement these “new ideas” into his Corinthians team and has been rightfully applauded for doing so.

However, despite their overwhelming dominance in this year’s Brazilian championship, Corinthians are not a world-beating side. They are organised, well-drilled and, crucially, they do the simple things well.

This is not to take anything away from Corinthians’ success, but to criticise their opposition. That simply making fewer mistakes than their peers is enough for Tite’s side to become Brazilian champions says plenty about the quality of the rest of the league.

Tite may well turn out to be an elite-level coach, but he’s not there yet. And without competent opposition, he never will be.