Luiz Felipe Scolari's 5 Biggest Mistakes in World Cup Campaign
Luiz Felipe Scolari deemed himself the man responsible for Brazil's humiliating defeat against Germany in the semi-final.
As the coach of the host country, he is also the man responsible for the entirety of the Selecao's inconsistent and disappointing World Cup campaign.
Here are the five biggest mistakes from Felipao.
5. Handling Pressure the Wrong Way
Mentally, Felipao failed to prepare this team for what was coming. The Selecao coach was unable to recognize the magnitude of the pressure that surrounded his players.
Scolari knew that the pressure was immense because of factors that go beyond football in Brazil. And yet, instead of attempting to keep that pressure away from the players, he fueled it with his statements.
It was almost as though Scolari was trying to substitute the lack of quality football with motivational factors, which unfortunately ended up being too much for the Brazilian squad to carry on its back.
Along with the millions of fans in Brazil, the players felt like the country’s existence and pride was in the line. The Brazilian players' way of singing the national anthem, the tears, even their statements made it evident that, emotionally, they were extremely affected by the environment around them.
Psychologically, when Brazil found itself in a dark tunnel without Neymar and Thiago Silva, and two goals down in the early minutes against the Germans, the Selecao crumbled and fell like never before.
4. Missing Tactical Alternatives
Luiz Felipe Scolari had little reaction when his team wasn't able to reflect its superiority on the field and even less when the other side was running over his. There was simply no Plan B.
Against Croatia, Brazil was lucky to have Neymar appear at the right moment and the ref calling Fred's dive in the Europeans' box. But Croatia was superior for long episodes of the game with no reaction coming from the bench.
For the second group-stage match, Felipao made no adjustments to find a way to penetrate the Mexican defensive mechanism, given that Guillermo Ochoa was also phenomenal that day.
Against Chile, Julio Cesar and the crossbar were Brazil's best allies before the game even went into the penalty shootout.
And during the massacre in Belo Horizonte, Felipao saw five German goals in 28 minutes and he made no reaction to change something within any of the goals. He was in shock.
If you are unable to adjust or try something different when your team is being destroyed, chances are your team isn't going to get better.
3. Relying on Under-Performance
Scolari's extreme confidence in the group he had formed and shaped for the Confederations Cup a year ago and the excessive reliance on his starting XI ended being counterproductive.
It is no secret that players feel more comfortable when they have the full support of the coach. However, when they have no competition within the team and their presence in the starting lineup is practically automatic, something isn't right.
The constant under-performances from Dani Alves, Marcelo, Hulk, Oscar and Fred seemed to have little effect on Scolari's decision to put them back on the pitch game after game during the tournament.
Of the players mentioned above, Dani Alves was the only one who eventually lost his place to Maicon.
The problem is that since Felipao had decided to make barely any dramatic changes to the Confederations Cup roster, alternatives for the other players were limited to non-existent in the squad. This takes us to the No. 2 mistake committed by Scolari.
2. Choosing Roster Alternatives
It feels like one of those times when you have to say "I told you so." This mistake was obviously done before the World Cup started but ended being crucial in Brazil’s World Cup campaign.
Scolari decided not to call up talented players who could have changed Brazil's face on top. Some of those players had proven their value with the Selecao in the past.
Neither is in their prime, but they aren't done either. What makes the decision even harder to understand is that they are not players who would have broken the group's harmony.
Both had good relationships with the current Brazilian squad. Ronaldinho played with them in 2011 when Mano Menezes was in charge, and Kaka was even greeted as a legend by Neymar and Co. before the match against Croatia in Sao Paulo.
Ronaldinho came back to play in Brazil and led Atletico Mineiro to win one of the most difficult club tournaments in the world—the Copa Libertadores in 2013.
Mineiro, orchestrated by Ronaldinho, was so impressive that Scolari included players from the 2013 Mineiro such as Jo and Bernard on the final roster. And, surprisingly, he decided to leave out the Mineiro star, a player who had been included by Scolari in 2002.
Kaka spent much of the last few years on the bench for Real Madrid, but once he was back in Milan, he showed traces of the great player he once was. Kaka is also a very well-known player by Scolari; he took Kaka to Korea-Japan 2002.
If Felipao didn’t want to rely on heroes from the past, he could at least have tried with Brazilian players who deserved a chance. Coutinho was impressive with Liverpool and it is still a wonder how Scolari thought there were 23 players better than him for the final roster.
It is also very hard to believe there is no better center-forward than Fred somewhere in the Brazilian player pool.
That is when Diego Costa comes to mind.
Scolari could have given Costa a chance to be a part of the group back in the summer of 2013 during the Confederations Cup. He decided not to and Costa decided to play for Spain. Back then, Scolari made harsh remarks about Costa’s decision, but Felipao himself had been responsible for pushing the Atletico Madrid forward to make his move.
The roster issues were not only for the lack of quality options up front but also in the back. Atletico Madrid's Filipe Luis and Joao Miranda would have been better alternatives for Marcelo's poor performance and for Thiago Silva's suspension.
1. Betraying Brazilian Football
Everyone knows the beautiful game style from the Brazilians; they carry it in their DNA, it is the way they feel football.
Through Brazil, you can walk in favelas (poor neighborhoods), middle- and upper-class residences, the beaches and possibly virtually anywhere and you will find people playing barefoot, showing off their immense and natural skills to remind you why Brazilian football is extraordinary.
Watching Felipao's Brazil, I sometimes wonder if they are really Brazilian. Their best game was against Colombia, and that was because of the high pressure that effectively stopped James Rodriguez and Co. It was not because of what made Brazilian football praised worldwide.
The only way to excuse the decision for not playing with Brazil’s historic style is to win the Cup as Scolari did in 2002, taking into consideration how different the circumstances were and a far better squad available.
In the end, betraying Brazil's football essence was too costly. And the only one to blame is Scolari—he chose this tactical scheme and this players.