Mano’s Brasil searching for their first ‘grande’ victory

Brasil take on Germany on Wednesday evening in the first of a long stretch of pre-World Cup qualifiers. As you may or may not be aware of, as the hosts to the 2014 tournament Brasil already have their place reserved and thus do not need to go through the long and arduous South American qualifying system. That may sound like a positive thing, but in truth it may well turn out to be a bright yellow banana skin waiting to trip up the Seleção as they try to win the World Cup on home soil in 2014.

With no qualifying tournament to play, that means that the only competitive football remaining for Brasil between now and the tournament’s opening match will be in the 2013 Confederations Cup, and even that is rarely one hundred percent competitive. Their South American rivals start their qualifying campaign in October and each team has sixteen matches to play, such match experience that Mano Menezes craves for his Seleção.

The compromise is simple, the CBF (Confederação Brasileira de Futebol) plan to have Brasil playing in several friendly matches against world-class squads over the course of the next three years. Aside from this Germany match, there is a two-game series with Argentina and an away game against Mexico already scheduled for the next two months, and plenty more opponents are being found. These ‘glamour friendlies’ cannot compare to genuine competitive football, but Mano and his meninos will be hoping it provides them with the preparation they require.

Despite the disappointing showing at the Copa América, Brasil will come out on to the field at the Mercedes Benz Arena in Stuttgart tomorrow with an almost completely unchanged team. Santos’ Paulo Henrique Ganso and Neymar will both start despite having wholly unimpressive tournaments, and Robinho, André Santos, and Júlio César keep their places too. In fact, (barring any last-minute surprises) Menezes will be fielding almost the exact line-up that faced Venezuela in their opening match of the 2011 Copa América, the only change being the introduction of Corinthians midfielder Ralf in place of the suspended Lucas Leiva.

How Brasil are expected to line-up on Wednesday (click for full-size)

The full 23-man squad shows a certain degree of progress and change however, names like Luisão, Elano, and Adriano missed out, while Vasco’s impervious centre back Dedé, Shakhtar Donetsk’s midfielder Fernandinho, and locally-based duo Luiz Gustavo and Renato Augusto recieved call-ups.

However, one player surprisingly left out of the squad was Shakhtar’s Jádson. At the time of his selection for the Copa América, many criticised Jádson’s inclusion and attributed it to favouritism from Menezes, who coached Jádson in Internacional’s youth setup. Jádson was again criticised after it was announced that he would start against Paraguay in a key group match, but his inclusion brought about Brasil’s best 45 minutes of football in the tournament, and he even managed to grab the game’s opening goal. Inexplicably, Jádson was substituted at the half-time interval in that match and did not appear again for the rest of the tournament. Perhaps there was some behind-the-scenes incident that we were not privy to, but the way in which he was brought in and quickly tossed aside was rather baffling.

In terms of Wednesday’s gameplan, it is safe to say that Brasil are going out to win this match. Since Menezes took over as coach, Brasil’s form against the ‘big sides’ has been pretty poor. Defeats against France and Argentina were not at all well recieved. Against Holland in Goiânia back in June, Brasil played a very unimpressive and conservative game which the supporters detested. The defence played well on that day however, and the game ended as a 0x0 draw, but Menezes is under a lot of pressure to come away with a result from this one.

I would not expect to see the huge amount of substitutions that often accompany friendly matches, especially not from Brasil, but some tinkering will be done as Menezes continues to explore his tactical options. One experiment that we are almost certain to see is Fernandinho entering in the place of Ganso. There is no doubt that Ganso is Brasil’s future number ten, but after unimpressive performances at the Copa América, another average game could see him come in for real criticism at such an early age. Fernandinho has been tested in that role in training sessions, and I would be very surprised if he does not get a run-out against the Germans.

Whatever the result in this one there is sure to be plenty of discussion afterwards, and if it doesn’t go to plan for the Seleção there will be plenty of pressure on Menezes and his team. Also bearing in mind the superb performances of Ronaldinho Gaúcho and Diego Souza in the domestic Brazilian championship, the next squad selection could be rather interesting.

Header photo: AP

7 thoughts on “Mano’s Brasil searching for their first ‘grande’ victory”

  1. I think if Brazil don’t beat Germany, the CBF will fire Mano. Simple as that. And if that doesn’t happen, it will certainly happen in the next months in case Mano doesn’t manage to make the Seleção win. And there is a big chance of that happening.

    Brazil will play the Copa Roca against Argentina, and Mano will only call players from Brazilian teams. As this is not a International match day for FIFA, I don’t think clubs such as Corinthians, Flamengo, Palmeiras and Sao Paulo will agree with their players missing a couple of matches so they could play an unimportant tournament. I honestly don’t know what Mano will do in case that happen.

    After that, Brazil will face Mexico, Spain and Italy. Basically, Menezes’s screwed.

    I think we’ll see Felipão back into the Seleção by the end of the year, and with that, there is a chance of old players returning to the team. Which is also a problem. What the hell is Lucio still doing there? He’s 78 years old! And not even that good.

    Anyways… Mano leaving could be good. IMO he and Dunga are almost the same thing. The only difference is that Mano knows how to handle the CBF and the journalists. Dunga had Alves, mano has Jádson. Dunga had Felipe Melo, Mano has Elias, Ralf, Jucilei. Dunga had Robinho, MANO STILL HAS ROBINHO!

    The Seleção is leaving a terrible moment, and they need to change. If it’s the coach, I don’t know. But they definitely need to chance.

    1. Yeah, good points. I think Mano is living on borrowed time already, most other managers would have been gone after a Copa América like that, so Mano is lucky that the main focus of the tournament was to blood Neymar, Ganso et al

      And anyway, did anyone really think that Mano Menezes, a coach with modest domestic success would be the man to lead Brazil at the 2014 Copa on home soil? Especially with other much more qualified Brazilian bosses out there, he would never be risked.

      Felipão and Muricy were the CBF’s first choices anyway, so it’s a matter of time until one of them takes control. I’d prefer Muricy, not just because I am palmeirense but also for the reasons you mentioned. I mean with Felipão as the boss, Rivaldo will be the number 10 in 2014 with Luan on the left wing. Muricy is the more progressive coach and that’s what’s needed at this stage.

      And hopefully this friendly marks the rise of the ‘Dedérminator’ ahead of Lúciosaurus

  2. Hey Euan, Ali Dowlatshah here from facebook, been a fan of your writing for some time now. I’m surprised you’ve not been picked up by a big press outlet tbh.

    I think there is too much pressure on a lot of these young players like Neymar, Ganso and keep in mind that Pato is only 21 himself. I think the decision to stay with Santos another season will only be beneficial for Neymar. I don’t think Menezes should be sacked on the basis of the Germany result tonight as I think the Germans will be fresher and more prepared considering the Brazilians are just coming off the back of the Copa America. I think Luiz Gustavo and Renato Augusto should get the chance to break into this team having been an admirer of them from the Bundesliga last year. Still though, if you look at the quality that Brazil have, they really shouldn’t be performing as poorly as they are. When you looked at Argentina during the Copa America, they were in very much the same situation but many put their failings down to Batista and his choice of formation with the 4-3-3. I really can’t make the same case for Brazil though, I think this formation does suit them, the team just don’t seem to be playing well together and the big names aren’t performing. I think Neymar and Robinho are very lazy players as talented as they are and they don’t put the same work in as some others do. I definitely agree with you, I think Fernandinho has got to get some game time tonight and see if he can make more of an impact than the rather unimpressive so far Ganso.

    1. I agree, certainly too much pressure. Brazil were disappointing at the last two World Cups though and the fans are desperate for success.

      On Menezes, it’s a tough game for him tonight against this Germany side, but it’s not his first chance to beat a big side. He had friendlies against Argentina, France and then Holland, and didn’t win any of them. People recognise the friendly results against the smaller teams like the USA and Scotland, and they did well in those games, but they want to have a Brazil side that can beat the big teams. In fact after a news story came out about Germany looking to field an attacking side tonight, there were a lot of sad people here, because to them this meant that Brazil weren’t feared anymore, and it’s true.

      And Robinho is an odd one. He hasn’t looked really important to the national team since the 2007 Copa América, he’s recaptured some form now for Milan but still I’m not sure what benefit he actually gives to the national team.

      1. Robinho is a fraud.

        When he did this (, and Galvao Bueno — the commentator — apparently thought it was the biggest thing in football since Pele’s almost goal from the midfield, a moster was born.

        And remember this: it wasn’t Terry or Cannavarro marking Robinho. It was ECUADOR’S NUMBER FOUR.

        I have one more thing to add about Mano: Jonas. I rest my case.

  3. Robinho? lazy? Surely not!

    In the past, there were always brazilian players that inspired fear and awe. Naymar , Robinho, Hulk lack presence and energy- if this is the best of the current Brazilian crop then they are in trouble- a surprise winner in 2014?

    1. Yeah I agree, they dont seem to have any of those ‘proper’ Brazil players which they have always been able to count on in World Cups, even the ones they didn’t win. Pelé and Garrincha, Jairzinho and Rivelino, Falcão and Zico, Müller and Careca, Romário and Bebeto, Ronaldo and Rivaldo…. Even with three more years of development and preparation I don’t know whether the current crop can produce these kind of players.

      And these guys have got to realise, if they go to this World Cup and do not win, it will never be forgotten.

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