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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.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Brazilian Football In Ruins: Selecao Slump To 2-1 Defeat By England For First Time In 23 Years

Brazil delivered an abysmal performance in a 2-1 defeat to England in Luiz Felipe Scolari’s first match as coach of the Brazilian national football team under CBF President Jose Marin. The match showcased Ronaldinho’s poor fitness and form, Neymar’s trademark inability to deliver in high-pressure situations for the national team, the inability of Paulinho and Ramires to make a significant footprint on the game, Luis Fabiano’s inefficacy as the lone pure striker and slack defending by Brazil overall. The team’s poor performance was compounded by Scolari’s highly questionable substitution of Arouca for Paulinho in the second half, a move that in many respects led to England’s second goal as a result of a mislaid Arouca pass. Oscar was by far Brazil’s best player of the night with visionary runs out wide and at the heart of the defense that created opportunities for Neymar which the Santos striker failed to convert. This was England’s first victory over Brazil in 23 years, and the match raised deep and important questions about the realism of Brazil’s chances of earning any kind of respectable place in the 2014 World Cup.

Scolari fielded a team of stars in their own right—World Club Cup champion Paulinho, Champions League winner Ramires, World Cup champion Ronaldinho, Neymar and Oscar, but the midfield failed to gel and impose itself on the English defense except in fits and spurts. True, Brazil had only one day to train with a new squad in Scolari’s first match in charge. But Brazil fans will need to start thinking deep and hard about how the team can live up to the potential of its individual players. The stark truth of the matter is, Brazilian football is now officially in ruins. After almost two decades of a golden age of Brazilian football from 1993 to 2009, the performance of the team has declined to the point where it resembles a ghost of the glorious victories enabled by players such as Romario, Bebeto, Dunga, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos and Cafu. And if Scolari fails to deliver by the Confederations Cup, we may be back to Menezes with not enough time for his experiments in renovation and restoration to achieve fruition.