Felipão may be a ten-year step in the wrong direction

As expected, the CBF have appointed Luiz Felipe Scolari, Felipão, as the new head coach of the seleção, replacing Mano Menezes. The clues were laid out for all to see when Felipão was appointed as a consultant to the Ministry of Sport at the end of September, not long after leaving his post as head coach of Palmeiras.

While on the one hand Mano Menezes is cold, serious and thoughtful, Felipão is charismatic, cheery, and has a far better connection with the Brazilian public. Considering the magnitude of the task of leading Brazil to the 2014 World Cup, Felipão’s personality fits the bill. Continue reading Felipão may be a ten-year step in the wrong direction

Five talking points from Brazil 1×1 Colombia

1. Colombia sacrificed midfield creativity for wing play – and it paid off

Since taking the Colombia job, Argentine coach José Pékerman has established a basic standard of selecting four defenders, two deep midfielders, and four attackers. Within these parameters, there are a number of variations Pékerman can make, depending on the match situation and the level of opposition.

One of the main variations concerns the deep midfield duo, and is a choice between creativity and solidity. On the one hand, you have Fredy Guarín of Internazionale and Monarcas’ Aldo Leão Ramírez – both strong, competitive midfielders, but with great vision and a wide passing range. On the other, there are players like Deportivo’s Abel Aguilar, Valenciennes’ Carlos Sánchez and Fluminense’s Edwin Valencia. All three are holding midfielders, tasked with breaking up play and covering Colombia’s marauding full-backs. Continue reading Five talking points from Brazil 1×1 Colombia

Checking in with the Seleção: part II

When we last spoke about the Seleção the London Olympics were just around the corner, and coming off the back of a promising run of friendlies, Mano Menezes’s boys looked dead certs to grab gold.

Prata com gosto de lata

However, as we know football is rarely so cut-and-dried. In the tournament’s early stages, Brazil lived up to expectations to some degree, winning all five of their matches on the way to the final, scoring three goals in each. Although, their second-half struggle against Egypt and difficulty in putting away Honduras hinted towards a deeper defensive problem.

In the final at Wembley, Brazil faced a quick and expansive Mexico side who managed to take the lead in the first minute of the match. The seleção failed to recover properly and lost the match 2-1 – forcing them to make do with the silver medal.

Of course, an Olympic medal of any substance should not be sniffed at. But for Brazil, this really was uma prata com gosto de lata – a silver that tastes like tin. Continue reading Checking in with the Seleção: part II

Menezes’ Seleção take a huge leap towards Olympic success

The appointment of Mano Menezes as Brazil head coach didn’t really blow anyone away. He took the job in 2010 after the Seleção’s disappointing World Cup display, and was the CBF’s official second choice to take the reins behind Muricy Ramalho, who had just signed a lengthy contract with Fluminense (and unofficially the third choice behind Luiz Felipe Scolari, who signed an equally long contract with Palmeiras).

Right away, he emphasised the need for a change in the Seleção’s style, correctly identifying that as hosts in 2014, they would not be able to rely on counter-attacking football to earn results. Menezes – always well-spoken and thoughtful in his press conferences – talked about Brazil needing to “take the game to their opponents” and often repeated the importance of being “the game’s protagonist”. Continue reading Menezes’ Seleção take a huge leap towards Olympic success

Marcos: The Last of the Old Guard

I first became interested in Brazilian football because of its passion, rawness, and purity. Whenever a player celebrated a goal, it was like he had just slotted the winner in the World Cup final against Argentina in a packed Maracanã. Furthermore, players (and managers) were not afraid to get involved in arguments, punch-ups, or even full-scale brawls. Players were so emotionally invested in the game, and for someone used to the bright, shiny, commercialized Champions League (sponsored by Sony, Ford, MasterCard, Heineken, UniCredit…), this was so refreshing.

However, from fans and pundits alike, I heard constant complaints that Brazilian football was turning into the “futebol moderno” that was associated with the Champions League, and people were clamouring for a return to the football of the 90’s. Continue reading Marcos: The Last of the Old Guard

World Cup 2014: The Road to Rio begins

With just over 1,000 days until the Final in the Maracanã, CONMEBOL’s nine nations (excluding Brazil) begin their march towards the World Cup with the first round of qualifying matches taking place this week. With every side in action on Friday and again on Tuesday (even Brazil have friendly matches on those days) we have plenty of thrilling football to look forward to. Let’s take a look at Friday’s four qualifiers, and cast a quick glance over the 2014 hosts and their friendly in Costa Rica.

Continue reading World Cup 2014: The Road to Rio begins

Mano opts for progressive Brazil squad for Ghana friendly

This Thursday, Brazil national team boss Mano Menezes announced his 24-man squad for the Seleção‘s friendly against Ghana in London on the 5th of September. There were considerable changes from the squad that lost to Germany recently, with some particularly popular inclusions.

Here are five quick talking points regarding this recent squad: Continue reading Mano opts for progressive Brazil squad for Ghana friendly

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. Continue reading Mano’s Brasil searching for their first ‘grande’ victory