Brazilian Samba Football: Revenge Of The "Fallen"
They are the fallen giants of football? Doesn’t matter to me. For most people who were born in my generation, football literally epitomized Brazil by all measures. They were the icons of football and I don’t think anyone would dare go against that fact, not even Blatter. As a matter of fact, Brazil took the sublime art of football to a whole new level, and haven’t looked back since. Not only were they the entertainers during that time, the Selecaos were also regarded as the holy guardians of football. You can bet on Obama losing an election but never bet on football losing it’s touch in Brazil. Some call it a religion, some hail as their tradition. It doesn’t matter. Actually, it never will matter. The sport brings people together and that’s the significant story behind it.
Since then, the torch has been passed to Barcelona/Spain but make no mistake on determining the best ever because both teams were built on different principles and philosophies. Equipped with the likes of Garrincha and Pele, attack was all Brazil thought about during the 1950s. There was even a theory relating number of passes and the chances of scoring a goal. The Brazilians believed that the more they pass, their chances of scoring a goal is reduced. Totally different from what Barcelona employ these days, right?
One thing that continuously stands out in Brazil is their ability to produce top class players generation after generation. People nowadays hail the impact of La Masia in Barcelona’s success story over the past few seasons but to be frank, the streets in Brazil represent the perfect platform of scouting potential talents. Everywhere you go, regardless of the life status there, you can be sure of finding kids messing around with nothing else but a football. While Pele was the hero of the 1958 World Cup triumph, injury prevented him from influencing the Selecao campaign four years later. A crisis? Not at all, Garrincha stepped up to be the star man and glory was theirs to behold.
One of the few things that Mano Menezes said after taking charge was about the need to implement traditional tactics so that Brazil will be firing on all cylinders come the World Cup in 2014. Absolutely significant don’t you think? I mean, Brazil are at their best when they play free-flowing football with only attack on their mind. Things get rather delicate when defensive tactics come in. Rewind back to 1994 when they met the Dutch in the World Cup quarter finals. Young Ronaldo was a mere spectator at that time as Romario, Bebeto, Taffarel and Dunga spearheaded their bid for glory. The Netherlands were a resilient team with Dennis Bergkamp upfront and looked a threat on paper. The match was hailed as one of the greatest to have been witnessed in World Cup history all due to one simple fact: Free-flowing football. There wasn’t any room for defensive tactics because as far as they were concerned, attack was the best way of defence. 3-2, it finished in favour of the Canaries.
Meanwhile, 2002 was all about Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo. As much as you wanted to give the Germans some credit for reaching the final, they were simply outclassed by a terrific set of Brazilian talent. Typical enough? Well, disappointment has been begrudging them since. Two World Cups, two quarter-finals exits, two coaches replaced and the verdict has been announced. Brazilian football is dead. In 2006, Carlos Alberto Parreira came up with some ‘Magic Square’ tactic to accommodate Ronaldo, Adriano, Ronaldinho and Kaka in the offensive section. Meanwhile, Dunga came up with a tactic that heavily depended on the inconsistent Robinho and Luis Fabiano. Things never seemed to be materializing under these two coaches and changes were definitely needed. You see, Brazilian football was all about fun and expression. They don’t mind conceding six goals as long as they manage to tuck in seven. But during those times, Brazil seemed to be having a tough time with their sharpeners because everything looked blunt upfront.
I analyzed Brazil’s match against Venezuela which ended in a stalemate and while there were glimpses of the ineffective attacking line-up, there was also glimpses of a bright light at the end of a tunnel. A tunnel that leads them to the World Cup in 2014. Intensity in their attacks were good, the midfielders worked hard to retain possession and made efforts with countless runs behind their markers. Players like Neymar, Ganso and Pato are still young and by 2014, maturity shouldn’t be a problem anymore.
I saw reminiscence of the true Brazil. The one that we all enjoyed watching. The one that ruled football way before Barcelona or Johan Cruyff came into the picture. The one that celebrated football like some great festival. And the one that produced moments of magic that we behold till today. Brazilian football is dead? No mate, it’s heading home. Revenge is in the air.