There have been many comments that Brazil haven’t been as exciting to watch this summer as their other teams have been in the past. Sarah Fitzpatrick is here to compare the current side to previous Brazil teams.
There is a simple reason for the regression in the Brazil team. They have begun a new era opting for youth and potential over experience and reputation which has been shown through the likes of Kaka being left out of this World Cup squad. This complete makeover of the squad has led to a different style of play but they have still gained the points they needed to qualify out of their group and into the last 16.
This Brazil team has a lot of quality and it will be interesting to see how they manage against other top international sides. So let’s compare this year’s side to the last Brazil team to lift the World Cup in 2002.
2002 vs Germany – Marcos, Lucio, Edmilson, Roque Junior, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Gilberto Silva , Kleberson, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Ronaldo.
2014 vs Croatia – Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Paulinho, Luis Gustavo, Hulk, Oscar, Neymar, Fred.
Brazil played a versatile formation where Cafu and Roberto Carlos operated as attacking full backs venturing forward to create a 5 man midfield but when they tracked back it created a 5 man defence alongside the three centre backs Lucio, Edmilson and Roque Junior.
Their formation easily switched from 3-5-2 to 5-3-2 depending on whether they were attacking or defending. They played Gilberto and Kleberson as their centre midfielders to battle it out in the centre which allowed Ronaldinho the freedom to express himself in attacking positions.
Brazil then had a lethal front two of Rivaldo and Ronaldo who were a nightmare for any defence scoring thirteen goals between them.
Brazil now play a completely different formation even though Luiz Felipe Scolari, who was in charge in 2002, is leading the Brazilian charge again in 2014. Scolari chosen to play in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
In front of their goalkeeper Julio Cesar they have a back four of Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Marcelo. In the midfield Luiz Gustavo plays as a defensive midfielder and Paulinho plays ahead of him. The attacking trio of Hulk, Oscar and Neymar are at the top of the midfield behind a lone striker, Fred.
Brazil’s defence was physically strong and a very organised unit. They had plenty of height in their three centre backs who were all over 6ft in height which made them hard to break down and well set up to defend set pieces.
Two world class full backs in Roberto Carlos and Cafu were more renowned for their attacking prowess but they were well able to track back and help the defence making it even more difficult to break down the Brazilians.
This tough defence made the job of goalkeeper Marcos a lot easier. As s a unit they managed 4 clean sheets and only conceded four times in the whole tournament.
Even though the 2014 defence has four big name defenders in Alves, Silva, Luiz and Marcelo they are not as organised or as united as the defence of 2002. They seem to get distracted with the attacking side of things, particularly Alves and Marcelo who like to make runs forward.
David Luiz also likes to venture forward which leaves Gustavo with no choice but to take up his vacated role in defence. This attacking minded play went against them in their opening game as they got caught on the counter attack by Croatia leading to Marcelo scoring an own goal.
This year’s defence does not have the same height as 2002 as Alves and Marcelo are only 5ft 8 which makes set pieces difficult to defend.The overall defensive abilities of the €50m David Luiz is questionable at the best of times.
Brazil have a good goalkeeper in Toronto FC’s Julio Cesar (on loan from QPR), who kept Brazil in the game against Mexico last week only to be overshadowed by an outstanding performance from Mexico goalkeeper Ochoa.
The midfield of Brazil in 2002 was mainly Gilberto and Kleberson in the centre with Roberto Carlos and Cafu to help them out when they were on the attack. This gave Ronaldinho the freedom to create chances for himself and the front two which worked a treat in 2002 as it led to a Brazilian World Cup triumph and one of the most exciting strike forces world football has ever seen.This midfield had an overall total of 54 goals between them throughout their international careers.
In the current Brazilian midfield Gustavo is played as a defensive midfielder acting as extra cover for the Brazilian defence. Tottenham’s Paulinho plays in the centre which allows Hulk, Oscar and Neymar to venture forward although Paulinho has been almost ineffective for Brazil so far in the competition.
In the attacking side of Brazil’s midfield Oscar and Neymar seem to be more impressive than Zenit’s Hulk. Oscar and Neymar seem the more likely to create chances or score for Brazil. This midfield has scored a total of 60 goals so far in their international careers but a whopping 35 of them have come from Neymar.
The strike force of Rivaldo and Ronaldo was one of the greatest strike forces to ever grace international football. These two forwards destroyed every defence that stood in their way on their path to World Cup glory.
Rivaldo often played just behind the advanced Ronaldo while he was also a specialist with free kicks, volleys and making outstanding off the ball runs while Ronaldo just always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.
These two players alone scored an unbelievable 96 international goals between them which is more goals than all of the current Brazilian starting team put together.
The current Brazilian team play Fred as their lone striker and he has not impressed at all in this year’s competition, but he still managed to score against Cameroon. Fred has scored 18 goals so far in his international career but is by no means a world class attacker. This means that the burden has often shifted to Neymar who has delivered four goals in three games.
The current Brazilian team could learn an awful lot from the team of 2002. The current Brazilian team are suspect at the back with three of the four far to fixated with going forward. The likes of Alves, Marcelo and Luiz love to venture forward but they need to prioritise their defensive responsibilities to eliminate the threat of the counter attack.
The current Brazil side is definitely lacking a top quality striker to play in front of Neymar. Fred is a long way short of the required standard but Brazil do not seem to have a more viable option in the central strike position.
The main issue with the current Brazilian side is that there is too much reliance on their star man Neymar. The Brazilian side of 2002 was known as a team with many stars but at the end of the day they played as a team. Coach Scolari stated that,
“Neymar can’t win by himself or lose by himself.”
The current Brazil team is putting too much pressure on Neymar and other players will need to contribute a lot more if they are to lift the World Cup on home soil.
Sarah Fitzpatrick, Pundit Arena