After Part One’s look at the journey of many a Brazilian international player, we now focus and look at the team as a whole.
Brazil have one of, if not the best international record(s) in the world. With five World Cup trophies, three Confederation Cups and eight Copa America titles under their belt, Brazil were always the team you didn’t want to face in a competition. However more recently, having made the quarter finals at the previous two World Cups (2006 & 2010) and the Copa America in 2011 Brazil have somewhat become less fearful. Despite winning the Copa America in 2004 and 2007 and small glory in the Confederations Cup in 2009, Brazil have failed to turn up when it has mattered most in recent years. A more worrying look for Brazil is when they fielded arguably their strongest 11 at Wembley, and were beaten by England 2-1 back in February. I mean, we all know how good England are, ahem. Brazil have indeed lost some of that dominance and fear that they once possessed, but this is in some part because their style of play has changed.
Brazil, and Brazilian football was always known for its flair. The quick dribbling, masterful skills and the ability to dance around teams with a sense of ease is exactly what made Brazil famous. ‘Joga Bonito’ were the words adopted for the style of play which in Potuguese translates to, ‘the beautiful game’. In 1977 even Pele’s autobiography was named My Life and the Beautiful Game. The term was so widely known that Nike Football adverts carried on the tradition. One famous advert in 2006 contained the Brazil national team doing keepy-uppies in the locker room as prep for their game. That being one of the last years where Brazil had a Joga Bonito style. With Rivaldo not playing since 2003 and Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos’ international careers coming to a halt that year, Brazil lost a lot of its spark. Not to mention shortly after Ronaldinho’s form dramatically dipped. It seemed that times were changing for the national side and that’s when Dunga stepped in.
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After a quarter-final exit in the 2006 World Cup, Dunga stepped in for Carlos Alberto Parreira. With no managerial experience, Dunga was relying on a playing career of 20 years, with 11 years and 91 caps full of international wisdom. Dunga changed up the system, he went in with a philosophy of not just naming players from ‘big’ teams but looking across the board. That included players in the Brazilian league. He managed to find players such as Vagner Love, Daniel Carvalho and Dudu Cearense. In 2007 he did find glory in the Copa America with a 3-0 victory over red hot favourites Argentina and winning the 2009 Confederations Cup.
Despite this, when coming to the 2010 World Cup, Dunga was up against the wall with criticism and was booed by his own fans in a warm up match in Paris. Why was this? Two main reasons, the first was because over the years, Dunga had formed Brazil into a more thuggish style of team. The days of Joga Bonito were over, in Dunga’s eyes winning in anyway was what mattered. The style in some part resembled his own playing characteristics, tough, strong and resilient. Although it may have not looked pretty, it won games.
Ex-players at the time had plenty of opportunity to add their thoughts of the team’s new style – captain of the 1970 team Carlos Alberto said: “Our national team do not play Brazilian football. The Brazilian football which is admired all around the world for its touch, for exchanging passes and dominating the game, no longer exists.”
Socrates of the 1982 side also gave his opinions on Brazil’s new direction: “Today’s Brazilian footballing style is an affront to our culture.” But flipping this on its head totally, this did have its upside. Brazilians through this era toughened up and adopted a different style of play, as a result of this we saw a lot more traffic enter and cope with the physical demand of most Europe leagues.
Take a look at the Da Silva twins playing for Manchester United, Robinho now for AC Milan, Ramires and David Luiz for Chelsea. Luiz in particular, has been a rock in Chelsea’s side of late and his physical presence has won many a battle in his new central midfield role. Hulk being a breathing emphasis of this type of new Brazilian play. Alas at the time this did not go down too well with Dunga. The second reason, was his team selection for the 2010 World Cup. Deciding to not take neither Neymar or Pato, Dunga received heavy criticism from both national figure Pele and the press. The first not really helping the latter in this instance. Dunga’s reign came to end in 2010 after being sacked by the CBF.
The Dunga era came to end and brought in both good and bad, he ended the Joga Bonito style but brought in the strength of the modern game. His successor Mano Menezes didn’t have much luck only lasting two years, although there were signs of a Joga Bonito reincarnation when he recalled Ronaldinho, Marcelo and Hulk to the squad in 2011. The Brazil set up now rests in the hands of Luiz Felipe Scolari, who already had one previous spell in 2001/2. Scolari rescued Brazil’s qualifying campaign and went on to win the 2002 World Cup, with a rampant and Joga Bonito styled Brazilian team. Retiring shortly after, he’s now back at the helm and will be looking to rescue Brazil yet again.
With their World Ranking at an all time low of 19th place due to a lack of competitive matches, Brazil will want to be the menacing foe they once were. With the influence of Dunga and the current management of Scolari, Brazil will have a mixture of strength and skill to cause devastation to any foe. Relating this in player terms going forward, Brazil will have the strength of Hulk and the speed and touch of Neymar. With Germany and Spain posing big threats next year, Brazil will look to be back to their best. Even more importantly, with the tournament set in their own back yard it’s almost the perfect setting for a Brazil renaissance. Joga Bonito indeed.
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