Please give a warm gibfootballshow welcome to Stefan Kelly. One of a host of new writers that will become regular fixtures of the GFS family.

Brazil is in a peculiar situation at the moment. With the impending pressure placed on the national team, or Selecao, growing greater in light of the recent fall from grace in the eyes of the samba nation. Last week’s 0-0 result against Holland hardly delighted the home fans in Goiania. The European based players were thrown out of their comfort zone and given the job to impress their own fans. If Brazil fail to live up to the expectations of people around the world in time to win the world cup on home soil in 2014, it would simply be a disaster.

The national team situation is running at the same time as what could be said to be the best-quality Brasileirao of the 21st century. The domestic league is now full of household names. Neymar’s emergence has been widely-recognised but without any substantial interest from a European club willing to pay the asking price of around £30 million, he could be staying where he is for now and completing a season that could see him become a phenomenon.

The Brasileirao is also attracting global attention from the recent high-profile signings of Ronaldinho and Luis Fabiano (by Flamengo and Sao Paulo respectively) among many others. Ronaldinho has been relatively poor for the amount of attention he has been getting. A scintillating performance during a 4-0 crushing of Avai has brought this upon him recently and it has shown how much of an asset he can be for Flamengo when he is on form.

Luis Fabiano’s move was one that surprised Europeans and Brazilians alike as only last summer he was the focal point of Brazil’s attack in South Africa which coincided with huge links to clubs like Tottenham and even Manchester United. However, his Sao Paulo side doesn’t look like mounting a title challenge even with him and fan favourite and national team player Lucas in the ranks.

League football in Brazil is thriving at the moment and a Santos victory in the Copa Libertadores against Uruguayan giants and 5-time winners Penarol would cap this off. The three top teams hunting for domestic glory do not contain last year’s victors Fluminense or a Flamengo side containing a player who for my money is one of the most exciting in Brazil at the moment, Thiago Neves.

Teams hunting for the domestic title include a Santos side consisting of a lot of young talent along with Neymar, Elano and Ganso, a Cruzeiro team who came so close last year bringing it down to the final day, spear-headed by Chilean playmaker Walter Montillo and a very reliable front two of Thiago Ribeiro and Wallyson (who scored for fun in the Libertadores before Cruzeiro’s elimination).

Lastly, Corinthians will fancy themselves for the title this year and when you look at how it’s going so far you’d think why not? 3 weeks in and they’re undefeated and top of the table. This season they have also acquired some attacking talent of their own i.e. the brilliant Liedson who they got from Sporting Lisbon and has impressed for them so far by producing great form since the state championships and the playmaker Alex formerly of Spartak Moscow.

A lack of real samba stars playing in Europe in the moment means that Mano Menezes is finding his equivalents to Rivaldo and Ronaldo in the Brasileirao. This has resulted in a number of players who were up to a year ago relatively unheard of on the world stage. The fact is Brazil are not the thrilling prospect they once were, just like I experienced 5 years ago when they came to play Ireland.

Ronaldo’s farewell game against Romania will prove to be significant not just because one of the world’s greatest ever strikers is retiring but it will also signify it is time for a new breed of samba stars to come through and guide this supposedly all-conquering nation to glory. The football must be pretty. The team must be attacking. They simply must win the world cup.

In my opinion, Menezes is going about things the right way, he has set a world-class centre-half partnership of David Luiz and Thiago Silva who hopefully will be at their peaks come 2014. As should Neymar, Ganso et al.

To sum up, Brazil is a very confusing place right now, the league is among the most exciting in the world but its fantastic amount of attacking talent is so far failing to entice the world on international duty and the country is gradually losing its god-like presence in the world of football. The Copa America this summer will certainly the most important one for years.

If you enjoyed Stefan’s article why not follow him on twitter – or visit his website The Midfield Diamond

 

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7 comments

June 8th, 2011

Interesting read & must be said for me a rather rare look into the domestic Brasilian game. I’ve always found it a bit odd and surprising that given the status of the Brasilian national team and the love and respect that flows from this, that the Brasilian domestic leagues don’t get much, if any, mainstream media coverage in the UK. When was the last time a Brasilian football match was on British telly?

The top Brasilian clubs are so well known. If you’re a reasonably well-informed football fan then you’ve surely heard of Santos, Sao Paolo, Internacional and the rest. I for one would love a few Brasileiro games on the TV.

Andrew

June 8th, 2011

Totally agree Karl. I think in the past Channel 4 and 5 have shown Brazilian games, but not in a long time. I think there is space on ESPN/Eurosport for some late night league action.

Glad you enjoyed it, hopefully it’s the start of things to come from Stefan.

No use for a name

June 9th, 2011

ESPN had the chance to take a Brazilian football package at the time of the breakup of Satanta – but never – so I doubt they would take a package now.

Instead it went to Premier Sports…which is why you get a lot of Irish sport fans knowledgeable about Brazilian football – due to Premier Sports broadcasting GAA games. Doubt many people in GB have a subscription to the channel at £7.99 a month.

Get Trans WorldSports back on the early morning channel 4 Saturday slot I say…always good for a review on S.American football!

Andrew

June 9th, 2011

Thank you nameless person, some great info there. You can’t get Premier Sports on Virgin either so not much use.

June 9th, 2011

Good work here, and a very valid point about the national pressure being put on the Seleção to perform in 2014.

Bear in mind that the last time Brazil hosted the World Cup was in 1950 and it didn’t go too well then. The team made the final against Uruguay, and were already proclaimed as world champions before kick-off. Uruguay won the match 2-1, their second goal managing to silence the specially-built Maracanã stadium (I’m not kidding, try to find footage you can almost only hear the Uruguay players).

To this day the nation is still a bit sore about that “fateful final”, so really the author is correct, nothing but a win will do for the Seleção in 2014.

Another point to be made is that many here in Brazil believe that Menezes is only a short term solution. Muricy Ramalho or Felipão (Luiz Felipe Scolari) are the names tipped to take control come 2013 time, as both of them were approached by the CBF after Dunga left, and both of them were in the early stages of their contracts at Fluminense and Palmeiras respectively.

Anyway, good work keep it up.

Andrew

June 9th, 2011

Yeah I’ve seen the clips of that final. The last time they played in white as well.
Glad you enjoyed the article Euan, a good start to Stefan’s GFS career :)

June 11th, 2011

Looking forward to Pinoy Azkals being mentioned here.

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