FIFA Club World Cup: What Does the Corinthians Win Show?
Today, the world is colored in black and white as Corinthians beat Chelsea with a header by Paolo Guerrero in the 69th minute to put the Brazilian club over the European representatives in Yokohama to win the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup.
Brazilian fans, like me, may disagree with this, but the bottom line is that this title doesn't mean a lot—except that it is the second loss for Chelsea's head coach Rafa Benitez in Japan.
Then the manager for Liverpool, Rafa Benitez lost in 2005 after the performance of a lifetime by São Paulo goalkeeper Rogério Ceni, and today after another stellar set of saves by Cassio.
There aren't a lot of things that can be extracted from this competition, but here are a few important conclusions.
Influence of Support
There is undeniable influence of support in a David vs. Goliath match. Corinthianos all around Brazil might disagree with me, but Chelsea were undoubtedly the favorites to win this match. The 22,000 Corinthian fans who made the journey to Japan, however, propelled Corinthians forward in playing a shut-down defense against both Al-Ahly and Chelsea while being committed to counter-attacks.
The Nação Corinthiana invaded Japan like no other supporters have in the history of these intercontinental confrontations. There is massive TV audience because South Americans, generally, take this title very seriously.
Never has Japan seen an invasion by a group's supporters that varies so much. There are stories of people who sold all their homes or cars to make the extremely expensive journey around the globe.
A New Brand of Brazilian Football
For those of you who thought that Brazilian football was all about high-flying offenses with abundantly skillful players, welcome to the new evolution of the sport: Brazilian centre-backs such as Dante, Lúcio and David Luiz are in the best leagues in the world today, like the Bundesliga and Serie A.
Also, Brazil is giving birth to more box-to-box midfielders than it used to.
Paulinho is the premier example of the new breed of midfielders coming to Brazil. He can both tackle and play defense like the best out there and, reminiscent of the early Cesc Fabregas in Arsenal, he has a quality touch and is an able passer. His best quality, much like Fabregas, is to show up and compose the attacking ranks like a false 9 when Paolo Guerrero isn't on the pitch.
Paulinho was the biggest goal scorer for Corinthians this season. He was essential in the victory of the Copa Libertadores, and now the Club World Cup.
This shows something else Brazilian teams have taken a page from European squads and implemented in their playing style.
Corinthians, and most teams here in Brazil, are playing more of a possession game, where the field isn't spread out like it used to be. Brazilian teams used to play with quick forwards and wingers in a game that didn't need much skill from the centre-backs and the defensive midfielders.
Now, we see a lot more one-touch plays and a lot more triangular passing. With triangular passing, the pace can be increased or diminished, allowing the whole team to advance as a whole rather than only in sections like it used to be.
Football Marketing Revolution
This all started when Ronaldo came to play for Corinthians. Single-handedly, his presence made Corinthians a world-wide brand. He also managed, through his company 9ine, to put the Corinthians brand all over the place with MMA star Anderson Silva.
Never in Brazilian football history has a team focused so heavily on marketing schemes to help fund its actions: The team store is always bustling with customers, the construction of its new arena is underway and will be featured in the 2014 World Cup, but all these contributions take second place.
The biggest contribution to Brazilian football is that Ronaldo's return from an unlucky spell at AC Milan made the Brazilian Championship attractive to ex-pats playing in Europe and elsewhere.
Corinthians managed to snatch up Adriano, even though he was largely absent, and now Paolo Guerrero, who wasn't tough to get. With Deco, Ronaldo and Clarence Seedorf coming over to play, the quality of the whole product has increased, and their presence lends more credibility to the whole league.
The Brazilian economic growth phase won't last for much longer, but as these players come to retire in our league, their presence should raise the overall quality of play.
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