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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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mano Menezes, Brazil's Midfield And The Ronaldinho Card

In recent weeks, the soccer blogosphere has been filled with commentary about Brazil’s defeat to Mexico in the Olympic final, and much attention has focused on Mano Menezes, the coach of the Brazilian national team. Many people—World Cup legend Romario included—have called for his dismissal, and rumors have proliferated about other options investigated by the CBF including Pep Guardiola and Luis Felipe Scolari. One school of thought, most famously propounded by Romario, maintains that Mano Menezes erred in selecting Hulk over David Luiz as one of the three overage players. The other school of thought maintains that Mano’s problem was that he failed to start Hulk for the final against Mexico, leaving the right flank exposed and leading to the first Peralta goal. As the celebrated blogger Jack Lang notes, "that Menezes failed to replicate the gung-ho nature of this decision [to include Hulk] in his starting 11 was the greatest frustration of a hugely disappointing afternoon for Brazil."

The reality is, the central question about the state of Brazilian football today does not concern Hulk or the Brazilian back line. Brazil have a phenomenal set of four defenders in the form of Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Dani Alves and Marcelo. The quality of the Brazilian defense was on display in the 3-0 victory against Sweden on August 15. The central question for Brazilian football today concerns the composition of the midfield, and this is the area that Menezes himself singled out in 2010 as the area in which Brazil was having problems. The secondary, related question about the Brazilian national team concerns team leadership and mentorship on the pitch itself, in the heat of the battle.

The issues with the Brazilian midfield are as follows:

• Recent Chelsea signing Oscar is an extraordinary player with vision, skill and creativity. That said, he failed to run the Brazilian midfield in the final against Mexico, and the same could be said of other matches as well. This is not a criticism of Oscar per se. It’s more a function of his style of play, temperament and the slightness of his physical presence.

• Only Ronaldinho can provide Brazil with the direction in midfield and overall leadership and fight that the team needs. Some people—though the number is becoming fewer and fewer—claim that role can be filled by the injury prone Paulo Henrique Ganso. Others will argue Kaka can do the same. The reality is that Ganso has barely played for Brazil in the last two years, and when he has, he has been less than spectacular. Kaka failed to give Brazil the direction it needed in the match against the Netherlands in World Cup 2010 in a high pressure situation. Moreover, Kaka has little experience playing alongside this generation of Brazilian-based players. Ronaldinho may be able to partner with Oscar in an attacking midfield pairing that complements Oscar’s skill and work ethic with Dinho’s singular ability to impose himself on a game.

• Hernanes and Lucas Moura represent other options that Menezes may want to consider alongside Oscar and Ronaldinho. The Lazio playmaker is known for his ability to play in the center of the park in a genuinely ambidextrous vein on either the left or right side of midfield. Paris Saint-Germain bound Lucas Moura could be yet another option for Brazil, making up the fourth wheel in a midfield quartet now composed of Oscar, Ronaldinho, Hernanes and Lucas Moura.

• Philosophically, Menezes shows allegiances to the legendary, attacking Brazilian coach Tele Santana by wanting playmakers deep in midfield as opposed to holding midfielders such as Lucas Leiva known for the bite of their tackle. Brazil 1982, recall, had Falcao and Cerezzo as deeper lying midfielders behind Socrates and Eder. Brazil 2014 can feature Oscar and Ronaldinho in what amounts to two number 10 shirts that would ideally be supplemented by playmaking ability deeper in midfield as well. Romulo and Sandro did well for the Olympic squad, but do not have the skill and experience to break down teams like Spain and Germany at the 2014 World Cup.

• Ronaldinho is back in form as demonstrated by his performances for Atletico Mineiro. In recent weeks, Dinho has chosen to show his stuff on the field and remain mostly silent off it. More importantly, Ronaldinho provides a young Brazilian team with leadership and experience that they will need when the team goes down by a goal or two and faces 10 men behind the ball for extended periods of time.

Mano Menezes should select Ronaldinho for the upcoming friendlies on September 7 and 10 against South Africa and China. He himself has described Dinho as “part of a project." Now is the time to bring Dinho firmly back into the fold and let him lead the Selecao, assuming, of course, that the former 2004 and 2005 FIFA World Player of The Year continues to deliver quality performances and a respectable attitude.

5 comments:

  1. Although dinho was one of z best players in z world,sometimes he seems he's in z pitch for a show rather than to play,to work hard n to win. he's a great entertainer. i love him so much but don't love him as much as i love selceao.z main reason that dunga overlooked him is because of his behavior in z dressing room.that's why pep didn't want him in barca either.look waht happened to selceao in 2006 when they were training in switherland in an open field where samba dancers,bazar,childeren with their families were attending z training session like some street match. thet's when z players missed their focus.so including dinho to z squad isn't good not only by his behaviour or by his condition. we must think in a long term.dinho won't play in a high level by 2014 world cup.z main problem in selceao is that they don't play as a team.there is no team work.as we obseverd in z olympics rafael wants to dribble in his own half, even marcelo,alex sandro.WHY??????they r defenders.act like defenders.get z ball,controll it n pass it accurately.oscar n neymar keeps z ball too much long.again get z ball n pass it acurately.selceao depends.Too much in individual skills.but every player can't deliver it every day.we saw what happened z final day at z olympics.selceao need to play in z midfield.as long as they r very talented they need to play short passes(like z old days).keep z ball.great n high ball possession.move z ball with patience.z players need to move n change positions very often.final match against mexico their midfield was zero.noone dared to bring z ball from z defenders, who they later started to play long passes to neymar who's not very strog in z air.so MIDFIELD MIDFIELD MIDFIELD.oscar is a great player with elegant first touch. let him play alongside hernanes.hernanes n oscar r even goal scorers.2strikers r enough for selceao with neymar n damiao's quality.z midfield must b very creative.

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  2. I agree with you, about Ronaldhino, he has no place in this team, but Brazil must put Ramires in the center, and Brazil need more players like Ramires. I think Oscar is good and Ganso too. I also think that Kaka has his place in that team.Neymar is still the best player in Brazil, they most also give a chance to Lucas Moura. And finally, Brazil should get other good players in the German league, also in Brazil too. And the most importantly, Brazil is not playing as a team, to solve this problem, they have to change the coach, Guardiola or Dunga.

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  3. Yes. Ramires is a very important player. he's a hard working player. so he deserves a starting eleven.he's like keleberson in 2002 world cup.though hernanes n oscar must start too as both creative midfielders.cause selceao's problem is z midfield.this midfield must be a creative midfield, that possesses z ball for a longer period.lucas leiva,ramires,oscar n hernanes.kaka too deserves a chance.if u remember how selceao played against france in 2011 until hernanes got z red card??it's was a fantastic football they played. joy to watch it. neat passing. i thought mano was z right coach. but since then hernanes was overlooked. those times he selceted agaist gabon n egypt he didn't show his best quality because of a bad pitch n against bosnia he played in a wrong postion which hulk should have started.about z coaches dunga is impossible to have him again.too defensive.we don't need only to win but to play better than our oppenents n win.guardiola is impossible too as he's not brazilian.

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  4. Ronaldinho should be back in team. This brazil team is lacking quality, which past teams had. They cant threat a team with a great defense. If ronaldinho is back, i believe the brazil will be back in the winning track.

    See what happened in 2012 WC. Brazil came with the team without their best player (probably best player on the world), and they lost to netherlands. I still believe that Brazil would have won 2012 WC, If ronaldinho was there in that squad.

    Bad Luck that Brazillian coaches always does this: remember what happened to Romario, Rivaldo and now Ronaldinho. How can a coach expect a team to win, without utilizing the best player (It may be possible in movies).

    My Plea for 2014 brazil coach (Whoever) Please dont do a gambling in 2014 WC by excluding experienced players.

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  5. Brazil will loose the World cup 2014 ( i predict before or quarter final)unless Ronaldinho is added to the team.
    btw, a team has 11 players in it and along with few 5-10 substitution players. and u coaches in brazil are saying hes not even deserve to be in the Subs? awww..cmon...
    u guys gotta be crazy not to include him in team.

    and also i dont believe in rumours saying his performance is down. ive seen him play..every game.
    he may be slow phase. but his ball control is still superb. and he is always has rare vision in game that others few has.

    Another Maradona football politics i senses here.

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