Brazil’s transatlantic balance will win the World Cup

by Charlie Coffey

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Yesterday Brazil played like two teams fused together: a physical, European-style rearguard of six formed a solid base from which their samba stars took Chile apart. Crucially (England, France and Italy take note), every man knew his role in a clearly defined system of play.

With England’s loose 4-4-2 and the hastily assembled 4-3-3 formations of Il Azzurri and Les Bleus, the players looked like they knew their starting shape but became amorphous as play became stretched. England in particular seemed to have no set style of play, although I’m sure this was not for lack of trying on behalf of Fabio Capello.

Despite the result yesterday Chile looked settled in a complex 3-3-1-3 system. Can you imagine the carnage if England were asked to play in this manner?! South American teams play 18 games in qualifying as opposed to 10 in Europe and this additional exposure to team-mates and tactics seems to be paying dividends in South Africa. Most people expected Brazil and Argentina to walk through the group stages but did they expect all three of Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay to progress?

Many of Brazil’s players made multiple transatlantic trips representing club and country during the qualifying campaign. As a result their play seems to be stuck half-way between Europe and South America. In footballing terms this is no bad place to be. Lucio and Maicon, for instance, will no doubt have been helped by the strict tactical discipline of Jose Mourinho, who will have taught them when and how to use their obvious flair when in possession, and how to press opponents whilst keeping the shape when without; raw talent refined by a cultured approach.

In attacking terms Brazil have the advantage of an abundance of technique and creativity, but they are also told to play in a certain way to make the most out it: Short, accurate passes on the deck combined with intelligent movement off the ball. The European teams mentioned above, now a mere footnote in the story of the 2010 World Cup, didn’t seem to have a defined style of play; they were neither patient nor exclusively direct. Unfortunately the ‘mix it up’ philosophy just doesn’t cut it in the knock-out stages of the World Cup.

Spain also play to their technical prowess, and are joint favourites with Brazil for good reason. In my opinion, however, Brazil will win it for three reasons. Firstly Fernando Torres is clearly not at his peak in a physical or a mental sense. David Villa is perhaps the best striker in the world at the moment but he needs Torres to come to life if Spain are to beat Brazil.

Secondly, Brazil as a team and as a nation ooze confidence and feel they have a right to win their sixth World Cup. Would Spanish fans, who have never tasted such a victory, feel comfortable taking massive World Cup replica trophies into tonight’s game with Portugal? Germany showed what confidence can do against a team who lack it, and Spain will feel pressure from a tense nation just as England did. I’m not saying Spain lack confidence, merely that Brazil have more of it.

The third reason is that bond of European brawn and South American beauty. Spain have a physical back-line but their ‘defensive’ midfielders are more creators than destroyers whereas Brazil’s are happy to sit. Italy won the World Cup because of their defence in 2006, and although I never thought it would be this way, I think Brazil will win it in 2010 for the same reason.

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  • Mike

    Interesting… but I’m sticking to my guns in saying that Argentina will win it- and will beat Brazil in the final.

    Brazil are good enough to get to the final but what if Fabiano gets injured?

    Not many options up front.

    Brazil have been really good so far, but haven’t quite convinced me.

  • Mike B

    Brazil will win the WC without even letting in another goal. They make it look oh so easy. 4 solid defenders, 2 holding players and 4 excellent attackers with pace, technique and skill. The main reason why is every player knows their job. They are an excellent outfit, a complete polar opposite of England!

  • mickey marbles

    I fancy Brazil too, It would be different if Torres was fully fit but he looks about as useful as Rooney at the mo.

  • Conor

    It will be hard for Brazil against Holland though. I think Holland have a chance of winning that game if they play well enough on the day.

  • Darren

    Not one of Hollands back four play for a top team, and this will be the main reason why Brazil will win. Van Bronckhurst must be hitting 45!

    Holland are on a great run, 14 competitive wins on the spin, I think Brazil will be a step to far though

  • dexylongshot


  • charlie coffey

    …and that is why I’m not a gambler!

  • Michael

    Predictions are risky! Argies to win!

  • Bill

    Ze Germans are coming!!

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