Globe-trotting Brazil bring glamour to Derby

Benefits for Championship club as Menezes' team bring their exotic talents to the east Midlands
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The Independent Football

The world will travel to Brazil for the next World Cup but, in the meantime, the South American powerhouse will tour the globe in their bid to become world champions for the sixth time in 2014.

New coach Mano Menezes and his team looked very much at home in the English Midlands on Monday, when they beat a gritty Ukraine side 2-0 at Derby County's Pride Park, the latest venue to host the team that remains soccer's biggest attraction.

At face value, Brazil playing Ukraine in a provinical English city on a Monday in October can be seen as just another money-spinner in an already over-crowded international calendar. But neither Derby County nor Menezes see it quite like that and television channels also reported huge interest, with the match televised live to more than 100 countries around the world.

John Vicars, Derby's vice-president of operations, said before the match the game was clearly one of the most prestigious Derby had ever hosted.

"We had only had two weeks to organise it after plans to stage it in the Middle East failed to materialise.

"We had a phone call from the agency that organises Brazil's friendlies outside Brazil to see if we could host it instead as we are one of a number of clubs they deal with.

"You don't say 'no' to Brazil, do you? And, of course, it was a tremendous honour for us to do so. As long as we break even, which I am sure we will, we will be happy."

After the Middle East plans fell through, the next idea was to stage the match in London. However, because England are playing Montenegro at Wembley Stadium in a Euro 2012 qualifier on Tuesday, the preferred venue was one outside the capital.

"It was a mammoth challenge for us to get this match organised and the city and the club have responded brilliantly," Vicars said.

"We have staged an England international at Pride Park, but having Brazil is something, frankly, we could not have dreamed of."

Brazil arrived in Derby after beating Iran 3-0 in Abu Dhabi on Thursday and their win over Ukraine maintained Menezes' perfect start of three straight wins since taking over from Dunga after the World Cup. They next head back to the Middle East for a friendly against arch-rivals Argentina in Qatar next month.

Menezes said travelling around the world was excellent for team spirit and bonding as he rebuilds the squad, not just for the World Cup but also with a view of qualifying for the London Olympics in 2012.

"Most of the players are based in Europe so we took the decision to play as many friendlies as we could there a few years ago," he said.

"We do play around the world and it is a great opportunity for the players to spend a lot of time together, but also for the world to see our new young players.

"There is always so much interest in the new players and fans around the world can see them."

Brazil's last home friendly was against Portugal in Brasilia in November 2008 and was the only one they played during previous coach Dunga's four years in charge.

Since winning the World Cup in 2002, Brazil have played only three friendlies at home but, under Dunga, played fixtures in cities all over the world, including destinations as far-flung as Kuwait, Oslo, Tallinn, New York, Doha, Dortmund, as well as Harare and Dar es Salaam just before the World Cup.

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