Brazil’s star attacking midfielder and playmaker, Paulo Henrique Ganso, will miss the Selecao’s upcoming friendlies against United States (May 30), Mexico (June 3) and Argentina (June 9) due to injury. Ganso will have arthroscopic knee surgery on Friday on his right knee to correct “waste” that lingered from a surgery in 2007. Ganso is expected to be unable to play for roughly 20 days following his surgery, meaning he may still play in the Olympics although his fitness renders him highly unlikely to accompany the team to London in search of the gold medal that Brazil has yet to win.
Ganso’s absence from the Brazilian national team creates a gaping hole in midfield for Mano Menezes. Ganso is known for his ability to read an entire game in ways paralleled only by the aging stars Ronaldinho and Kaka in the modern game. Coach Mano Menezes has been reluctant to include either Ronaldinho or Kaka in the squad for form and fitness reasons. In any case, both Ronaldinho and Kaka fall into the over 23 bracket, and thereby complicate Mano's choice of three, over 23 year old players given the strategic importance of players such as Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Hulk to the Olympic squad. 26 year old Lazio playmaker Hernanes represents another option for Menezes, who was said to be “studying” the possibility of selecting another player to the squad though Hernanes, too, falls into the over 23 bracket.
Another option would be for Mano to let youngsters Oscar (Internacional) and Casemiro (Sao Paulo) and Lucas Moura (Sao Paulo) rule the midfield, though none of these players can claim Ganso’s unique ability to dictate play as well as present a credible attacking and goal scoring threat. Overall, Ganso’s injury represents a huge blow to Menezes, who has built his “renovation” of the Brazilian national football team on Ganso-like creativity in midfield that recalls the genius of the great Brazil team of 1982. Ganso’s style of play evokes memories of the legendary Brazilian midfielder Socrates who captained the Brazil side of 1982 and was similarly known for his playmaking skill and ability to change the tempo of a game.
Brazil have already lost right back Dani Alves due to injury and hence will enter Saturday’s game against Denmark severely depleted of talent given that Neymar and Ganso were previously excused due to club commitments for Santos. Fans should expect Oscar and Lucas Moura to rise to the occasion over the course of the next four friendlies and earn themselves a starting place in the Brazilian line-up for the Olympics and possibly beyond.