Jack Lang at Snap! Kaka and Pop has the full list here. It’s who’s not on the list that has caused a stir in Brazil and around the football world. No Kaka. No Ronaldinho. No Ramires. No Coutinho. And no Rafael. This might be an expression of depth, but it’s also a sign of different thinking under Felipe Scolari:
Only four players have ever played a World Cup. Nobody can acuse Big Phil of not reshuffling the pack.
To that end though, it’s an intriguing list. Lucas Moura made the cut, as did Oscar and Hermanes. There are a lot of defenders too. In the end, it’s the Confederations Cup. Despite the considerable allure, it’s a test run, a friendly tournament. Some intense playing minutes together in 2013 doesn’t set anything in stone for 2014. It strengthens Brazil’s considerable depth. No need to panic.
We should all give reverence to the two most victorious national sides on the planet when they face each other, even for a friendly. Rubbing their combined nine World Cup titles in everyone else’s faces, Brazil and Italy contested a lively match in Geneva last night.
It was reassuring to see the continuation of Cesare Prandelli’s work with the azzurri still paying off. They dominated Brazil for most of the match and probably deserved to win. The never-aging Andrea Pirlo and the man of the match, (Super) Mario Balotelli, elevated QPR’s keeper Julio Cesar to the best Brazilian on the pitch.
On the other bench, Luiz Felipe Scolari, a.k.a. Big Phil, got yet another reminder that he’s a long way from having a proper team for Brazil 2014, not to mention the looming Confederations Cup at home in June. As usual, however, even when teamwork is missing altogether, Brazil fills the gap with its endless slate of individually talented players. The Italians should know better, but if there is one lesson in football, it is this: don’t underestimate Brazil.
In the 33rd minute, the still-in-the-rough diamond that is Neymar put a precise pass to the left of the box. The ball eventually found Filipe Luis, whose cross reached a cold-blooded Fred. He poked it into Buffon’s net without a bounce to open the scoring for Brazil. Even if Julio Cesar continued to save Brazil left and right, their unjust advantage widened in the 41st minute. A lethal counterattack carried by Neymar from Brazil’s defence all the way across the pitch ended with a sweet pass to serve Oscar in the box. The Chelsea prodigy effortlessly slipped it past Buffon to score Brazil’s second. Read the rest of this entry »
The South American Youth Championship—that scouts’ paradise—didn’t go exactly as planned for Brazil last month. Having finished in the top four in each of the biennial tournaments since 1977 they wound up bottom of their group at the 2013 instalment, with just one win and four goals scored in four matches.
It was a performance that fell well short of recent standards, in particular the 2011 side that lost just once en route to the title and hammered Uruguay 6-0 in the final. That side, which also graduated a handful of players to the squad that would win the FIFA U-20 World Cup six months later, was stacked with players who would become stars at club level, and others who already were.
Up front there was Neymar, Lucas Moura and Willian José; in defense Juan Jesus and Danilo. Alan Patrick and Oscar made things happen in the centre of the park, and holding it all together was an 18-year-old named Casemiro—an elegant, box-to-box midfielder with a penchant for playmaking who the previous season had broken into the first team at São Paulo.
At the time Casemiro was among the best central midfielders in his age category in Brazil, if not the best—a reputation that made him destined for a big-money move to big European club, should São Paulo have been unable to resist the offers tabled.
It seems appropriate that on the day before Christmas I’m writing about yet another Neymar transfer rumour. Despite his oft-repeated intention to stay at Santos—at least for the time being—the 20-year-old nevertheless remains atop the wishlist of almost every European club that can afford him.
For three years talent scouts have been dispatched to the Vila with care, in hopes that Neymar soon would be theirs.
Manchester City’s Txiki Begiristain is just the latest club official to have made the pilgrimage to Santos, where he is thought to have spent two days making overtures to the São Paulo side and the player’s other rights-holders regarding a move to Eastlands at the end of the Premier League season.
City are by no means the only club with designs on prying Neymar from the Vila Belmiro before the 2014 World Cup, which is widely understood to be the point in time when the world’s best footballer not currently playing in Europe will most seriously entertain offers from the other side of the Atlantic. But their interest did find its way into the English press, and while that in and of itself doesn’t make such rumours worth addressing, the resulting commotion and potential misunderstanding of the situation probably warrants a brief response.
Fresh concerns over 2014 World Cup security were sparked when the second leg of the Copa Sudamericana final between São Paulo and Tigre came to a violent, premature end at the Brazilian city’s Morumbi stadium on Wednesday.
After players from the two sides clashed as they made their way toward the tunnel following a ferocious first half, reports of a brawl in the Tigre dressing room began filtering through to the media. Tigre manager Néstor Gorosito told Fox Deportes that stadium security had threatened his players with firearms—an allegation that was supported by left-back Lucas Orban, who stated that a security officer had put a gun to goalkeeper Damian Albil’s chest.
Tigre, saying the security of their players could not be guaranteed, refused to come out for the second period, and referee Enrique Osses awarded the match, and the trophy by default, to São Paulo.
Not surprisingly, the international press were quick to link the incident to the upcoming World Cup, which will be held in Brazil 18 months from now. The supposed possession of guns among stadium security—and their apparent willingness to un-holster those guns—unleashed a cavalcade of worry, and many of the familiar, redundant platitudes were subsequently provided for readers who had neither seen the match in question nor had any grasp of the context.
The evolution of footballers usually centers around their bodies. Praised for their aerial and ground abilities and judged for their on-field performances, some players soar and reach new heights whereas others diminish and disappear from the game all together.
Brazilian legend Romário de Souza Fari was strictly known for his footballing skills until two years ago when he entered the realm of politics. A sublime goal scorer, he was known for gaining points both on and off the pitch (he was a ladies’ man). But he’s come a long way since his hedonistic days. He’s no longer judged on his dating record or goal tally. Instead, he’s scrutinized for the bills he supports and passes at the highest level of Brazilian government.
With a transition into politics Romário has likely reached an awakening or at least a maturity level unknown to most players. He’s not concerned with building a brand or a commercial empire like his Brazilian counterpart Pele. Romário would rather dedicate the rest of his life drawing attention to more salient issues.
But while some things change, others remain the same. He still embodies an old continuity. The 46-year old is as fearless and outspoken dressed in a suit as he was wearing soccer cleats. Instead of racing for titles, he now protects the less privileged and is committed to ridding Brazilian futebol of corruption. Read the rest of this entry »