Beware Brazil! Samba Days To Return

by Robbie Blakeley

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Brazil coach Mano Menezes has arrived in Argentina ahead of the Copa America looking to give the Seleçao a new identity,and the fans a reason to cheer, after the bitter disappointment of last year’s World Cup.

Having taken over from Dunga in August, Menezes is heading into his first tournament as national coach with little doubt the next three and a half weeks will be taken seriously.

As hosts of the 2014 World Cup, Brazil do not have to qualify and will not play competitive football again until the 2013 Confederations Cup. Menezes needs to use this tournament as an indicator for big stage players.

Public opinion has dipped alarmingly since the World Cup failure as fans began to grow disillusioned with their country’s identity last year. Unimpressed with Dunga’s preference for substance over style with focus on big, powerful players like Felipe Melo and Luis Fabiano, Brazil had stopped playing the kind of football inspired by Garrincha, Didi, Pele, Jairzinho and Ronaldo. But Menezes is slowly reintroducing fluidity based around small, quick forwards.

An exciting and hungry generation is emerging desperate to shine in national colours, led by Pato, Thiago Silva and the two hottest prospects in world football, the Santos pair of Neymar and Ganso.

Brazil are searching for their third successive Copa America title, but find their path blocked by their two traditional rivals. Uruguay have built their strongest squad for decades, spearheaded by the man voted best player at the World Cup, Diego Forlan.

The hosts have their inspiration in Lionel Messi. So often the catalyst for Barcelona, he has been criticised in some corners for not producing his club form at international level. Argentina have gone eighteen years without a major trophy and pressure is mounting to amend the situation on home soil.

Brazil play their opening match on July 3rd against Venezuela and barring any last minute injuries Menezes has settled on his best line-up. After experimenting with various formations over the last ten months, he will use a 4-2-3-1 based around the pace and guile of Ganso, Neymar, Pato and Robinho.

Robinho is one who has thrived under Menezes. Still just 27, he is the second most experienced player in the squad with 84 caps, behind Lucio with 101. Robinho has worn the captain’s armband on five occasions as testament to the player’s maturity. Blessed with breathtaking quality as well as the ability to start an argument in an empty room, the Milan forward has revelled in the responsibility and freedom handed to him.

He is the man idolised by Brazil’s biggest draw at the tournament; Santos starlet Neymar. The 19-year-old is fresh from winning the Copa Libertadores with his club, where he scored six goals and had the Brazilian media drooling.

At a time of previously sparse optimism over Brazil’s national team, Neymar has sparked hope that the next 23 days can bring a renewed sense of belief. If the teenager’s blistering form reaps rewards, you can bet on Europe’s big guns hovering ever more closely to the mohawked magician.


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  • darren

    will be interesting to see if Messi can add to his 54 goals from last season and add an international trophy to impressive list

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