World Cup Watch Part One: Brazil
The first in a series looking at the teams vying to win the coveted Jules Rimet trophy in South Africa next summer looks at Brazil, a footballing giant with a history of producing outrageously talented footballers and an undying love for the game.
With FIVE victories in eighteen World Cup Finals appearances, Brazil have always been the team to watch. Having first won the trophy in 1958, their most recent success was in 2002 in Asia where Ronaldo excelled with EIGHT tournament goals to take the golden boot award and the team won every game including a 2-0 win against Germany in the final.
They have never failed to qualify for the finals tournament in eighteen attempts and have won 70 percent of all finals matches they have played, scoring 201 goals in the process.
SHAPING UP FOR 2010
Brazil has shown poor form so far, drawing half of their matches to date. This has led to the national media questioning Dunga's coaching methods and team selection. Despite being six points adrift of leaders Paraguay, they should still qualify alongside Argentina and Chile.
In the true spirit of Brazilian football, next year's squad will be bursting with attacking talent with pacy, skillful players in usual abundance. They have world-class strikers in Robinho and Alexandre Pato, arguably the strongest international central midfield pairing in Diego Ribas and Kaka and their full-backs Douglas Maicon and Dani Alves would get into any side in the world.
Brazil has never been known for producing reliable defensive players and coach Dunga will have to ensure that he fields a balanced team that is compact in defence and difficult to breach. The team has only lost twice in competitive fixtures under Dunga but have looked unconvincing at times, especially during their qualifying campaign this time around.
Dunga has been praised and criticised in equal measure since taking over from Carlos Alberto Pareira in 2006. Admired for casting his eye outside the big European sides for potential stars, he has helped bed the talented Vagner Love, Daniel Carvalho, and Dudu Cearense into the squad and will be keeping his eyes open for other potential stars.
He was also praised for leading his team to an emphatic triumph in the Copa America against the much fancied Argentines. But fans will hope that his side steps up a few gears fairly soon if they are to win next summer.
Alexandre "The Duck" Pato has taken Serie A by storm recently with AC Milan, where he has scored 23 goals in 45 matches. Still only 19, the prolific young talisman has scored once for the national team but, with the service provided by Kaka, Ribas, and the marauding full-backs, he could go on to emulate many greats before him.
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