Kaká and the New Jogo Bonito

Alejandro MullerCorrespondent IOctober 14, 2008

Beautiful.  It is the word eternally connected with the sport of football, especially the Brazilian style of the game.

The Jogo Bonito, or Beautiful Game, is what is always expected from the men in yellow, blue, and white. Lately, however, the grace has been fading. The game has become all about effectiveness, speed, and power.  

Even Brazilian coach Dunga has turned his back on those great Brazilian teams of 1970, 1982, 1994, and 2002 by turning his squad into a counter-attacking, speed-oriented machine.  

But then there is Kaka. His game, like his appearance, is different from that of other great Brazilians who have come and gone.  His footwork is not as flashy, his attitude is more calm, and his lifestyle is not that of a famous superstar. All these reasons and some other are why Kaka, and only Kaka, can bring back the Jogo Bonito.

Kaka's game is effective. His talent and grace are undeniable, and his vision on the field is unbelievable, but his game remains mostly effective  Pele had beautiful footwork, outstanding vision and flashy moves. Ronaldinho, Robinho, and Ronaldo have always had games that call out for attention. Flip Flaps, bicycle moves, and step-overs have made them the most popular.  

When one watches Kaka, there is the amazing ball control, but very little flashy stuff.  His objective remains to play the game the right way and score goals, a style of play that, while beautiful, adapts much better to today's game than the more attention-seeking, paused game other Brazilians play.  

That is why Kaka has a responsibility, the weight of a country, the history of a sport, and the life or death of the style that made football what it is.  

The Jogo Bonito as we once knew it is gone, that paused game in which the ball went through one man who controlled the midfield and handled the tempo at his own pace. The middle of the field is a transition area now.  The game is played in the boxes and on the wings.  

What Kaka does is make that style beautiful.  

His calm, easy style makes tremendous speed look like slow motion replay, and his ball-handling is so simple, you just know he's better than anyone else. Kaka has and will continue to demonstrate that the Jogo Bonito is not a style, it is how a player can adapt to a strategy or concept and make it beautiful.  

It is when a player makes the game different, when sport becomes art.