Brazil: A Couple of Bricks Short Of a Full Load

Carlos GroverCorrespondent IMay 12, 2009

SIENA, ITALY - FEBRUARY 17:  Ronaldo  of  Milan celebrates after the Serie A match between Siena and Milan on February 17, 2007 in Siena, Italy.  (Photo by New Press/Getty Images)

On May 21stDunga will make his final announcement about the group that will be facing Uruguay and Paraguay in World Cup Qualifiers, as well as Brazil’s representatives in the Confederations Cup.

There are a number of players whom have featured regularly under Dunga’s reign who can expect a call up; however, several positions are yet to be determined, and the suspense around those call-ups continues to mount.

The left-back position, which has traditionally been critical both defensively as well as offensively, providing width to the attack, is one of the areas of uncertainty. Since Roberto Carlos’ fall from grace with the Brazilian national team, Brazil has struggled to find a suitable successor to perform the function he once did.

Roberto Carlos, in a March interview with Spanish magazine “AS,” backed Real Madrid’s Marcelo to replace him when he said:

“I continue to think that Marcelo has a great future and that he can one day be the new Roberto Carlos at Real Madrid…Marcelo is playing further up the pitch and his game has benefited.”

Marcelo is in pole position to get the nod for the left back responsibilities; however he faces significant competition from Sevilla’s Adriano. Upon receiving a call up to Brazil’s friendly against Italy, Adriano assured that,

“For me this is the first battle won…I have dedicated myself at Sevilla to deserve this chance…my main objective is to contest the World Cup.”

He has similar qualities as Marcelo and he is definitely in contention for the spot.

Dunga has consistently carried four strikers with the squad, but with Adriano’s recent temporary distancing from the soccer pitch, the door for that critical fourth spot is wide open. Robinho, Luis Fabiano, and Alexandre Pato compose the expected three strikers that will be supplemented by whomever Dunga chooses to bring in.

For this fourth striker, the main characteristics Dunga will be looking for are traditional “super-sub” qualities.

Because the responsibilities are limited to fifteen-minute appearances, the player needs to be able to make an immediate impact. Traditionally this has been filled by an experienced striker who knows the game well enough to be able to be dropped into a match in full swing and have an impact.

Another approach to determining the right player for this call-up is an overwhelming attribute approach. This was the approach adopted by Sven-Goran Eriksson during the 2002 World Cup with his call up of Theo Walcott who at the time could only boast extraordinary speed.

The thought behind this approach being that late in a game defenders are less apt to adjusting and are therefore more vulnerable to an extreme quality then they are to a multi-dimensional striker.

Lately two names have been suggested as possible candidates for this role. One fills the experience model while the other fits the overwhelming approach. On the experienced end of the spectrum Ronaldo would provide the ideal replacement for Adriano. According to Brazilian news giant “Globo,”

“The ten goals in 13 games that Ronaldo scored for Corinthians has led Dunga and Ricardo Teixeira, president of CBF (Brazil soccer governing entity) to confirm that the No. 9 is being observed.”

Indeed public pressure will definitely be in Ronaldo’s favor; however Internacional’s Nilmar has also been publicized as a possible candidate for the spot. In a recent game, ironically against Corinthians (Ronaldo’s team), Nilmar demonstrated extreme agility and speed to score one of the most memorable goals of the tournament thus far.

Although he must develop in order to become Brazil’s starting striker, he does have the necessary qualities to fit the latter model of the “super-sub” that requires an extreme quality. The fact that he plays in Brazil is another factor in his favor as he provides an “unknown” quality that makes him even more difficult for defenders to deal with. 

Arguably there are several positions, even within his core players, that Dunga needs to reevaluate in his Brazil squad. Despite this it appears that the Confederations Cup will serve as a “litmus test” for the group that Dunga has brought together.

The left back position as well as the doubt around fourth striker shows a distinct lack of preparedness. In contrast, Brazil’s 1982 World Cup team, which is often touted as one of the best Brazil has ever had, took a distinctly different approach to achieve its quality.

Up to a year before the World Cup, fans new exactly who was on the Brazil team. Legendary manager Tele Santana emphasized consistency in his call-ups and the result was some of the prettiest soccer Brazil has ever played.

Many curse the death of the beautiful game, but perhaps it is not as far away as we previously may have thought.

The contrasting approach is exemplified with Dunga’s words that, “With World Cup qualifiers the opportunity to experiment is less, but we try to (experiment) when we have a chance…There is no need for us to say the group is set.”



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