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This blog reflects on soccer qua football all over the world. The blog has a specific investment in attractive, attacking football and, as such, focuses on Brazil, the most emphatic historical exponent of the beautiful game.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Menezes Holds Bar High For Kaka's Return To Selecao

Brazil coach Mano Menezes has explained his decision not to include Kaka in the preliminary roster for the Olympics by noting that he would prefer Kaka play the entire pre-season for Real Madrid, particularly given the importance of the 2012-2013 season for the Real Madrid midfielder’s chances of securing a place in the 2014 World Cup. As reported on Goal.com, Menezes made the following remarks on the chances of Kaka’s return to the Selecao in an interview with Brazilian channel sporTV:
"I think that Kaka can play a big role at the World Cup in 2014. I think that in order for than to happen, the next season will be very important. 2012-13 will say if he can play one more World Cup. And for this to happen, the pre-season will be crucial for him. And it happens that the Olympic Games take place exactly during pre-season in Europe. If I believe that he can be at the World Cup and that next season will be crucial, then I have to let him do what he needs to do."

On one hand, these are highly appropriate comments given Kaka’s recent history of injuries and continuing struggle to return to form over the last three years. On the other, reading between the lines of Menezes's remarks, one can safely assume that Kaka’s return to the Selecao will require nothing short of a spectacular return to form over a sustained period of time. Kaka clearly does not fit into Menezes’s plans for the Brazilian national team given the surfeit of talent at his disposal in an attacking midfield position. Mano favors Ronaldinho, Hernanes and Ganso in the playmaker role, for starters, and additionally has his eye on Lucas Moura. All this means that Kaka will need to deliver something short of a miracle to earn back his place in the national team. Knowing Kaka, however, a miraculous return to form may not be entirely out of the Real Madrid midfielder’s grasp, vision and circle of hope. Kaka is no stranger to miracles either of a medical nature or as demonstrated by his miraculous form at AC Milan, soon after his transplantation to Europe from Sao Paulo. Kaka made a miraculous recovery from a swimming pool accident that happened in October 2000.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kaka Inspires 3-0 Real Madrid Victory Over APOEL With Goal And Assist

Real Madrid attacking midfielder Kaka continued to make a compelling case for his return to the Selecao with a game-winning performance against APOEL in today’s 3-0 Champions League quarterfinal victory for Los Blancos. Kaka came off the bench just after the hour and set up Karim Benzema’s opening goal by drifting wide left and cutting in a cross that Benzema headed into the net past the keeper’s left hand in the 74th minute. Minutes later, Kaka slotted the ball into the back of the net from a Marcelo cross to give Real Madrid a decisive 2-0 lead. In both the first and second goals, Kaka combined masterfully with Marcelo, first by switching places with the Real Madrid left-back to take up a place on the far left flank to create the opportunity for Benzema, and then by reading Marcelo’s pass to score. Benzema put the icing on the cake with a third goal in the 90th minute but Kaka deserves the credit for changing the tempo of the game in a match in which Madrid had failed to impose their style of play prior to the Brazilian’s arrival. After the match, an ebullient Kaka remarked: "Gradually, I am taking my opportunities one day and one game at a time. But I'm just happy for the victory."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Casemiro, Luis Fabiano and Lucas Moura Fire Sao Paulo To Victory Over Santos

Sao Paulo defeated Santos 3-2 thanks to goals by Casemiro, Luis Fabiano and Lucas Moura in the Paulista championship today. Sao Paulo's pedigree shone through in the form of a remarkable long range strike from Casemiro, Fabiano's composure from the penalty spot and Lucas Moura's quick thinking response to a carom off the post to convert Sao Paulo's third goal.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Brazil Include Ronaldinho In Preliminary Squad For Olympics

Brazil national coach Mano Menezes announced a preliminary list of 51 players for the 2012 Olympic games in London today. Mano included Ronaldinho (Flamengo), Thiago Silva (AC Milan), David Luiz (Chelsea), Julio Cesar (Inter Milan), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Hernanes (Lazio), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan) and Hulk (FC Porto) as possible candidates for the prized berths for three, over 23 year old players. True to Mano’s recent squad selections for the national team, Kaka and Robinho were omitted. Of the under 23 year old players, standouts include Neymar (Santos), Paulo Henrique Ganso (Santos), Leandro Damiao (Internacional), Lucas Moura (Sao Paulo), Oscar (Internacional), Henrique (Granada, Spain) and Casemiro (Sao Paulo). Expectations for Olympic gold are mounting in Brazil given the abundance of talent in this generation of under 23 year old players. Brazil have never won Olympic gold even though they are five time World Cup champions.

Mano Menezes has remarked that the Olympic squad needs an experienced central defender such as Thiago Silva in order to win the gold medal. Star midfielder Ronaldinho, meanwhile, has been outspoken about his desire to play again in the Olympics, even though he has been suffering from a recent poor run of form at Flamengo. Brazil’s midfield sparkled at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia in August 2011 under the leadership of Oscar (Internacional) and Casemiro (Sao Paulo). Casemiro recently commented that Brazil’s current Olympic squad “is the best group ever assembled, the strongest.” "If you stop to think about it,” he noted, “you can make a strong group without having the three over-age athletes.”

Brazil won the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup by scoring 18 goals en route to the trophy. Coach Ney Franco’s World Cup winning U-20 squad featured a midfield composed of Casemiro, Coutinho, Fernando and Oscar behind strikers Henrique and Willian Jose. While Oscar stole the show in the final with a memorable hat-trick in Brazil’s 3-2 victory against Portugal, Henrique picked up the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards for the tournament’s most valuable player and leading goalscorer, respectively. Pressure is particularly high on Menezes to win Olympic gold as a stepping stone to Brazil’s preparation for the 2014 World Cup on home soil. Brazil will announce a revised list of 35 players on June 8. The final 18 player squad for the Olympic games, which take place between July 27 and August 12, will be revealed on July 6.