I bet you used to fancy having a Brazilian. Don’t lie to yourself, everyone knows you did. There was a time when you couldn’t go a day without hearing talk of the latest spectacular Brazilian people had seen. Word would spread round the office, you might get sent a Youtube link. Upon opening the video you would witness something flamboyant, skilful and full of wonder, something that people in this country could only hope to understand and would never produce themselves.
What happened to the mighty Brazilian which once was the stuff of legend? Now the only Brazilian I see is David Luiz and if you’re going to get one you really don’t want it to look like him. When I was growing up Brazil were THE football team. The samba boys, full of stars with more tricks than the annual Las Vegas magicians convention.
Brazil were fantastic to watch, they played with rhythm, flair and style. But they weren’t one of those fancy teams that looked pretty but never won anything, they won and they won in style but they also had more ways to hurt you than the tools you would find in a sadomasochist’s shed, they could mix it if the game got physical.
Brazilian players were the star names at the big clubs in Europe. Ronaldo, Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Cafu, Roberto-Carlos could all be found in Madrid, Barcelona and Milan.
The Premier League never got the best Brazilian players, often we’d end up with the knock-offs like Kleberson. Although now and then you might be lucky enough to see a Juninho Paulista, a player of amazing ability who was brilliant on the ball. It was fun to watch him dribble round players. You remember fun right? Yes there was a 5 yard pass on but that would have been far too easy. Unfortunately he got relegated with Middlesbrough, but I blame this mostly on the ineptitude of Bryan Robson as a manager.
I never thought it would come to end, I expected a conveyor belt of players to keep on flocking to Europe from Brazil but it seems times have changed. Brazilian clubs are buoyed with new found money on the back of Brazil’s rapidly growing economy, so now it’s not just their footballers’ we can look at and envy. The Brazilian players I think of now are defenders. Lucio and Thiago Silva are both exceptionally good central defenders, Dani Alves despite being a cheating little rat has continued the tradition of mad-hat attacking full-backs, but where are the forwards?
Pato has yet to live up to his billing as the next big thing. Kaka has faded and has never looked like the player he once was so a move to Chelsea seems like it could be on the cards. Robinho is a good player, but will never be a great, certainly not by Brazilian standards. The culture of Brazilian football has shifted and they simply aren’t producing the flair players with the same regularity. Players like Lucas Leiva and Ramires can be valuable to a side, but they’ll never be Socrates.
Recent Brazil teams haven’t even been good to watch, under Dunga they were (dare I say it) workman like. But there is hope, currently Santos are in possession of the next generation of Brazilian stars. Neymar is a classic Brazilian forward, tricky and dribbles as often as a toddler chewing a rattle. He is consistently being linked with moves to the giants of European football and it seems as if it’s more a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ he moves. His partner in crime is Ganso, who is slightly older but recaptures the best traditions of Brazilian football as a clever attacking midfielder who also enjoyed taking players on.
I hope the glory days of Brazilian football return. Obviously I would love to see England have a go at dominating the world stage and being the pinnacle of football, but backing Brazil seems far more likely to happen. I’m getting bored of Spain’s passing possession game. I’d much rather see the ball given away in an attempt to do something astonishing than mindlessly passing the ball in the hope that the opposition will get bored and go home. Barcelona can get away with it because they have Messi, but Spain, nope, sorry, you’re just dull.