Luiz Felipe Scolari Doomed to Failure in Brazil World Cup Bid

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Luiz Felipe Scolari Doomed to Failure in Brazil World Cup Bid
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And so, the tale reached its inevitable conclusion. Failure in the World Cup has seen Luiz Felipe Scolari leave his post as coach of Brazil, having offered his resignation following Saturday's defeat to Holland.

The writing, whilst not exactly on the wall during the tournament, nevertheless saw an anxious author hovering close by, pen in hand, ready to scribble.

Brazil failed to convince throughout the competition, and, upon their first meeting with a supposed rival, came up short. Perhaps, in the long term, it will come to serve a purpose.

Perhaps this can serve as a wake-up call to the Brazilian Football Confederation, that change for the sake of change is never beneficial. The Selecao Brasileira is the country's biggest source of pride, but the return of Big Phil at the end of 2012 felt like a desperate bid for popularity from the CBF following the flight of former president Ricardo Teixeira.

Scolari is credited with a lot since returning to the Brazilian hot seat. He changed the team's shape and it gradually bred results.

He lifted the Confederations Cup in 2013 and appeared to have hit upon the perfect formula. During their run to that title Brazil scored 14 goals in five games, including a 4-2 win over Italy and 3-0 demolition of then-world champions Spain in the final.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Scolari led Brazil to the Confederations Cup title last year.

The defence also looked strong. The side conceded just three goals, and, prior to the World Cup, that 4-2 win against Italy was the only occasion Brazil conceded more than once in a game for a year.

But for all the positive statistics, there was no Plan B. Beyond the 4-2-3-1 that Scolari favoured throughout his reign, there lacked even the slightest inclination to buck this trend in the event of a setback.

The Selecao set-up was as good as set in stone. And it was this rigid approach that was to be Felipao's ultimate downfall, an inflexible system that left his charges exposed against top-class opposition.

Germany, who lifted the World Cup at the Maracana on Sunday and destroyed Brazil in the semi-final, have been playing together for four years. Six of the players were part of the successful 2009 U-21 European Championship team, which thrashed England 4-0 in the final.

Martin Meissner/Associated Press/Associated Press
Germany's World Cup-winning side have played together for a number of years.

Scolari assembled a team in a little over 18 months and was expected to garner results against teams that have been forged over time.

In truth, Brazil were lucky to even top Group A in the first place. Had Neymar been sent off for an elbow on Luka Modric in the tournament's opener—and it is feasible that he could have been—it is entirely plausible the hosts would not have gone on to win the match and could have finished the group in second place.

That would have meant a meeting with Holland in the second round rather than the third-placed play-off, and their moment for sober wonderment could have arrived far sooner.

Brazil stuttered through to the semi-finals and came up against a midfield currently acknowledged as the strongest in the international game. If ever there was a moment to alter a faltering game plan, this was it.

Yet Scolari stuck with his favoured two-man midfield. The result was that Luiz Gustavo and Fernandinho found themselves completely overrun in the middle, the tie snatched away from Brazil in a flurry of goal-mad minutes, the dreams of tens of millions extinguished.

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Luiz Gustavo and Fernandinho were overrun by the German midfield.

Television programmes and radio broadcasts are now filled with debate over who is the right man to take over from Felipao. Martin Fernandez, in his blog for Globo Esporte, has suggested the CBF are now willing to take a look at foreign options, an unprecedented step (link in Portuguese).

In actual fact, the right man had been in charge since the end of the 2010 World Cup. Mano Menezes had his stint cut harshly short by CBF president Jose Maria Marin a little over halfway through his brief run.

Menezes had time to experiment, but was dismissed at the very moment his side was beginning to define its identity. Marin looked to an old favourite to steady the Selecao ship over uncertain waters, but Scolari's tactical limitations were exposed in the most horrific circumstances imaginable.

To wipe the memory from this World Cup will take decades. To get it right on the pitch, patience and belief will be key for a fresh dawn of Brazilian football.

 

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