Our run down of the teams involved in the 2011 Copa America, which kicks off on July 1, continues with a closer look at Brazil.
Brazil may have slipped up in their last two attempts to collect a sixth World Cup title but in recent years they have rarely put a foot wrong in the Copa América. A Seleção have overcome Argentina in the last two Copa América finals on route to winning four out of the last five South American championships. Brazil have been crowned kings of the continent every time they have hosted the Copa América, although they are yet to take home a title from Argentina.
Momento de gloria
In anticipation of hosting the 1950 World Cup the Verde-Amarela nation staged the Copa América the year before. Nine goals from Jair, including a brace in the final against Paraguay, ensured the home crowd got the chance to toast victory.
El director técnico
It’s widely perceived that Mano Menezes was the CBF’s second choice to replace Dunga after the role had first been offered to Muricy Ramalho. Before taking over the Brazil team Mano had been overseeing the ambitious geriat-ticos project at Corinthians along with Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos. Mano failed to bring home the Copa Libertadores to Corinthians but he did demonstrate an aptitude for massaging big egos. Recent friendlies against Holland and Romania saw Mano’s side struggling to break down the opposition and his counter-attacking style is at odds with the sexy football he promised when he took the job.
Lúcio remains one of the finest exponents of defensive play on the planet, just as he has been for over a decade. Inside the package comes Lúcio’s organisational skills combined with the ability to get the better of any type of striker. In his thirties he still makes those lung busting runs up field at every opportunity he gets and his goals in Champions League and Confederation Cup finals are testament to his attacking threat. With already 100 caps to his name Lúcio is destined to go down as the greatest Brazilian defender of all-time alongside his 2002 World Cup winning team-mate Cafu.
Paulo Henrique Ganso has captured the Brazilian imagination following his performances in midfield for freshly crowned Copa Libertadores champions Santos. Ganso is a playmaker more in the mould of Juan Román Riquelme as opposed to his predecessor Kaká. The 21-year-old employs flamboyant flicks and precious passing rather than relying on sheer athleticism to get the job done. Ganso has missed pretty much all of the first six months of this year through injury and Menezes will be keeping him in cotton wool as the Copa América approaches.
In the build-up to the 2010 World Cup three police cars were called to cart off reporters staging a protest outside Dunga’s house. The stunt was just the tip of the iceberg with the whole of Brazil calling for Ganso and his Santos team-mate Neymar to travel to South Africa. One year on and both starlets are starters for Brazil with Neymar fast becoming the most prized catch in world football. Neymar loves to occupy that Thierry Henry position on the left flank before opening up his box of tricks to cut in and squeeze off a shot from either foot. Neymar’s ability to ghost past defenders makes his tendency to go to ground all the more frustrating. However, the expectant father has already shown that he loves to turn it on in the big games, Copa América beware.
Lucas Moura has found himself fast-tracked into the senior set-up after linking up with Neymar to win Brazil yet another South American under-20 championship. Capable of conjuring a goal from nothing, he has helped São Paulo FC to cope with the absence of Luís Fabiano through injury. With every match that passes added weight is given to the theory that Chelsea ended up walking away with the wrong player when Lucas Piazón signed on the dotted line at Stamford Bridge.
Perhaps the only player missing out with a realistic chance of getting into the first team is Real Madrid’s left-back Marcelo. Romantics would have loved to see one last hurrah for the attacking flair of Kaká and Ronaldinho in particular. Nilmar, Hulk and Leandro Damião have every right to feel aggrieved after losing out to Fred.
Rumores de transferencia
Neymar to Chelsea, Lucas Moura to Liverpool, Daniel Alves to Manchester City, Leandro Damião to Tottenham Hotspur.
Alexandre Pato has been snapped by the paps in the build-up to the Copa América soaking on the rays on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Instead for spending his time with a girl from Ipanema, the striker has used his predatory instincts to net himself Barbara Berlusconi, the daughter of AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi.
Síguelo en Twitter:
@LucasLeiva87 - Hopefully next season will be better and we will achieve good things together. I am sure next season we will never walk alone again.
La opinión experta
The only surprise for me in the squad is the inclusion of left-back Adriano at the expense of Marcelo. It seems the Real Madrid defender is being punished for some indiscipline in the last year. Since the days of Roberto Carlos we have been without a player who has made that left-back position their own. As for the rest of the squad, I like the renovations that are taking place. We know what Kaká and Ronaldinho can do so why not look for another solution to the famous number 10 shirt. Ganso from Santos is very much the man of the moment right now and if he can come back from his injury maybe we’ll get a preview of the Brazilian team for the 2014 World Cup. Another big piece of news is the recovery of Alexandre Pato from the shoulder problem he picked up at Milan. If Ganso is firing and we have Pato, Neymar and Robinho in front of him we can start to play the game that supporters love to see.
Marcos Lavieri - UOL Brasil
Qualifying as hosts for the 2014 World Cup prevents Menezes from developing his team in the fiercely competitive South American qualification series. It is therefore essential that the head coach uses the Copa América arena to school his young squad on the ways of winning when it matters.
The evidence offered up by Menezes in recently friendlies showed that Brazil’s counter-attacking threat can be stifled by an organised opposition getting men behind the ball. The danger exists that many of Brazil’s fixtures at the Copa América could actually turn out to be rather dull encounters. Hopefully, the reintroduction of Ganso will provide them with that little bit of extra nous needed to unpick a defence. Brazil to beat Argentina in the final for the third consecutive tournament.
¿Por qué ser fanático?
If you’re looking to take in a bit of football over the next few years you’d be well advised to get yourself over to Brazil. For a kick-off, domestic football barely takes a break for turkey with football being played 12 months a years. A top flight team with a couple of cup campaigns on the go can expect to play the guts of 100 games in a calendar year. On the international front there’s the Confederations Cup in 2013, the World Cup in 2014, the Copa América in 2015 and the Olympic tournament in 2016. Oh yes, it’s all going on in Brazil.
¿Un club en League Two?
There’s one club which stands out as the obvious pick for any football fan who still believes in the principles behind jogo bonito. Whether they play decked out in their yellow or blue strip, AFC Wimbledon can expect a warm welcome at every ground they travel to next season.
Get yourself in the mood for carnival by dousing yourself in cachaça and swinging to the samba beat. Settle the stomach with a hearty portion of feijoada before rocking down to Avenida Paulista for São Paulo’s most potent party.
A power struggle between the football federations of Rio de Janerio and São Paulo led to Brazil being relatively later bloomers on the international circuit. A unified Brazilian national team did not take to the field until 1914, a full 13 years after Argentina had beaten Uruguay in the first all-South America international. A Seleção got off to a winning start by overcoming Exeter City 2-0 at the Estádio das Laranjeiras, a ground still used by Fluminense. In honour of the famous meeting Brazil sent a team to Devon in to mark the ninetieth anniversary of the first meeting, again the little canaries came out on top thanks to a penalty converted by Careca. Talk of a pre-World Cup rematch in the Brazilian team’s centenary year would give the Grecians a chance to make it third time lucky.
Goalkeepers: Julio César (Inter, ITA), Victor (Grêmio, BRA), Jefferson (Botafogo, BRA).
Defenders: André Santos (Fenerbahçe, TUR), Daniel Alves and Adriano (Barcelona, SPA), Maicon and Lúcio (Inter, ITA), David Luiz (Chelsea, ENG), Luisão (Benfica, POR), Thiago Silva (AC Milan, ITA).
Midfields: Sandro (Tottenham, ENG), Lucas Leiva (Liverpool, ENG), Elano and Paulo Henrique Ganso (Santos, BRA), Elias (Atlético Madrid, ESP), Jadson (Shaktar Donetsk, UKR), Lucas (São Paulo, BRA), Ramires (Chelsea, ENG).
Forwards: Alexandre Pato and Robinho (AC Milan, ITA), Fred (Fluminense), Neymar (Santos).
v Venezuela 03/07/2011 16:00 La Plata
v Paraguay 09/07/2011 16:00 Córdoba
v Ecuador 13/07/2011 21:45 Córdoba
FIFA ranking: 3
Odds to win: 2/1
Copa America record: P173 W95 D30 L42 F387 A190
Copa America best: Eight-time champions
More teams will follow in this daily series. Plus, for more on Copa America 2011, listen to The South American Football Show.