A Glimpse of the Favourites: Part 1 - Brazil

By Gabriel Cazotto

    Profile: Walk around the edge of the beaches of Santos and you'll notice that for every ten boys who pass through the boardwalk, at least eight has a Mohawk haircut, mainly because of the newest media phenomenon in Brazil: Neymar. Be in advertising or even on the field, Neymar appears as the main name of this new Brazilian generation post-Ronaldo. A generation that will try to conquer the sixth World Cup by playing on home turfs, but that has an incredible distrust of their own people on their team. After the disappointing silver medal at the Olympic Games in London, and the increase of the fear that Neymar and Mano Menezes were too inexperienced for the job, the president of CBF relied on an old icon, the charismatic coach of the fifth cup in 2002 "Big Phil" Scolari, with the clear intention to reunite the passion of the people with its national team after a long time of break up and rescuing the spirit of the so famous "Scolari Family". What was seen in the massacre against Spain in the final of the Confederations Cup was a perfect amalgamation between the team and its people, and more than the victory or some answers to the football played by the national team, the main importance was Brazil being feared again.

Goalkeeper: As always, Scolari has his preferred players under his wings even if they are not playing at the highest level football, this is the perfect example of how the "Scolari Family" works. Júlio Cesar, who is a reserve player in QPR from England's first division (the second league, below Premiership) will be the starter at the World Cup. It doesn't matter if the keeper will transfer to a Brazilian Club, to Sampdoria, as speculations says, or even if he remains not even in the bench of QPR. Scolari has a total confidence in the former Inter goalkeeper, and only, and just only if he is injured, Jefferson, Cavalieri or Victor can take his spot. This can be seen as a risk, as Júlio César might reach the World Cup at poor physical conditions.

Defenders: The main strength point of the Brazilian squad, 4 world class defenders in line, something that 10, 20 years ago you will doubt that a team as powerful as Brazil in the offensive line, would have. Thiago Silva, the captain is perhaps the best current defender overall, and David Luiz formers a perfect partner in defence, being helped by Dani Alves and Marcelo, the best side defenders in La Liga.

Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo is the DM chosen by Felipăo. Due to the strong offensive force of both Daniel Alves and Marcelo, Scolari needs a DM to act almost as third CB to help the advance of the side defenders. His tenure in Portugal made him adapt to a 4-3-3 with two Central Midfielders rather than use Menezes' lone offensive midfielder (Ganso, at the time), for Scolari, the CM needs to defend as well as attack, that is the main reason he prefers Paulinho, the steam machine of the team, and Oscar, the creative mind of this line-up.

Forwards: Two wingers, the first one is Neymar, who is given complete freedom to go forward, while Hulk, the right winger, even as severely criticized by Brazilian fans is an important cog to the Brazilian scheme of Scolari, again, due to the defensive strength that he adds to the squad. (As you've seen me writing, Felipăo is very caution in his line-up. Even in 2002 the 3-4-3 used to freely give room to Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo was concerned defensively to give support to them. This is what Scolari does, he sets up a fantastic defensive line, to allow the best player in the squad, in today's team, Neymar, to have complete freedom to roam around the field and decide games). This is also the case of Fred, a prolific striker not known outside Brazil. He is very good, but is injured a lot and due to his lack of man-marking, is also set free in Scolari's 4-3-3. This man-marking is incredibly needed in his line-up, this way Scolari pressured Spain's defensive line, making them lose the tiki-taka and launch balls from defence to attack, destroying the Spanish type of play. He also inputs the midfielders to commit "smaller" fouls to disrupt Spain's counter-attack, we can possibly see this again in a possible match-up of Round of 16 against the same Spaniards. In case of the Netherlands, perhaps Scolari might use a different approach in the midfield, man-marking the Dutch wingers, to not provide balls to van Persie. The "smaller" fouls, might continue in a possible match against Netherlands, but focused more on Sneijder, Brazilian executioner of 2010, and creative mind of the Oranje.

Tactics: Scolari choose to bet on the Brazilian youth, he took off Ronaldinho and changed the tactics for the one he used in Portugal during 2006-2008, the 4-3-3. Oscar is used more as left midfielder position while Hulk acts mainly as a "true" right winger, everything to let Neymar do anything he wants on the field. The 15 first minutes are focused on pressuring the opponent's defence, with Paulinho advancing from the midfield. Marcelo and Dani Alves are key pawns in the advance of Brazil to attack, leading the defensive line based on Luiz Gustavo, David Luiz and Thiago Silva. With the lack of strikers of the calibre of Romário and Ronaldo, Fred plays as the chosen centre forward wanted by "Big Phil".



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