Copa America 2011: 5 Brazilians Who Have Underperformed in the Group Stage

Jared DublinAnalyst IIJuly 13, 2011

Copa America 2011: 5 Brazilians Who Have Underperformed in the Group Stage

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    After draws against Venezuela and Paraguay, Brazil find themselves tied for second-place in Group B.

    The reigning Copa America champions entered the tournament as one of the heavy favorites. Brazil brought a young squad to Argentina, hoping to build the foundations for a 2014 World Cup triumph.

    Although the national team came in with lofty expectations, they have been disappointing in their first two matches. Brazil need to improve individually and collectively if they are to make a run deep into the tournament.

    Here are five Brazilians who have underperformed in the group stage.

Lúcio

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    The Brazil captain had a solid opening match against Bolivia, but he was exposed at the back by Paraguay's talented frontline.

    Lucio has been at the heart of Brazil's defense for a decade. However, at 33 years of age, the strong centre-back has entered the last stage of his footballing career.

    The Internazionale defender was not directly at fault for Paraguay's second goal, but he was unable to close down the space and make the vital interception after Alves was dispossessed in the box.

    As the Seleção's captain and leader, Lucio needs to be that impenetrable last line of defense. He may have lost a step, but the Brazilian still has the awareness and determination to solidify the backline.

    Lucio has not been a poor performer thus far, but Brazil need much better displays from their veteran centre-back.

Paulo Henrique Ganso

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    Donning the famous No. 10 shirt of Brazil, Ganso entered the 2011 Copa America with high expectations. Manager Mano Menezes and the supporters were ready to usher in the post-Kaka and Ronadinho era.

    Ganso has been touted as the next great Brazilian playmaker. Elite European clubs, such as AC Milan, have shown serious interest in signing the Santos star.

    Although the Brazil No. 10 has recently returned from injury, he has failed to make a significant impact in the final third. Ganso has pulled off a few deft flicks and back-heels, but he has yet to find the killer pass to unlock the defense.

    Ganso has exceptional technical ability, but his lack of physical strength has been exposed by Venezuela and Paraguay. The Brazilian has been shrugged off the ball with ease, losing out to quicker and more powerful players.

    The Santos star has yet to assume that role as Brazil's primary playmaker. If the Seleção are to progress deep into the tournament, their No. 10 must have a bigger influence on the team's attacking play.

Dani Alves

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    Dani Alves has been one of the tournament's major disappointments.

    The attacking right-back is one of the most experienced players on the Brazil national team. He has been instrumental to Barcelona's domestic and European success, marauding down the flank and combining with teammates in the final third.

    As Menezes' first-choice right-back over Inter's Maicon, Alves was expected to shine at this year's Copa America. However, the Barcelona star has been ineffective going forward and a defensive liability.

    In Brazil's 2-2 draw with Paraguay, Alves was at fault for both goals. The right-back was caught upfield for the first goal, which led to a swift Paraguay counter down the flank.

    Although he played a minor role in conceding the first goal, Alves made a horrific mistake for the second. The right-back was dispossessed in the area, leaving Brazil exposed at the back. He had time to clear the ball or knock it out of play, but he was caught dwelling on the ball.

    Alves' mistake gave Paraguay a clear sight of goal. Although Nelson Haedo Valdez was lucky to have the ball bounce off his chest and into the net, the Brazilian gifted Paraguay a golden opportunity with his horrific defending.

    Brazil will need better attacking contributions and defensive play from their attacking right-back.

Neymar

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    Neymar was expected to be one of the stars of this year's Copa America.

    The Santos forward has been a first-team regular for the national team under Menezes.

    Although Neymar has attracted serious interest from the top European clubs, he has underperformed in Brazil's first two matches. The Santos star has showed flashes of breathtaking skill. However, the tricks and flicks have failed to produce a quality end-product.

    Neymar has looked more determined to beat defenders off the dribble than provide a clinical finish. The Brazilian has lacked that goal-poacher's instinct in the box.

    In addition to his poor finishing, the talented striker has struggled to cope with the physicality of other players. Neymar has gone down under any contact, and has been knocked off the ball by stronger opponents.

    The Brazilian No. 11 is undoubtedly one of the most talented players at the tournament. However, Brazil will need much better performances from their young striker.

Mano Menezes

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    Mano Menezes' new-look Brazil have not played attractive or winning football.

    Dunga's successor has ushered in a new era of Brazilian football, striving to revive the country's samba style and jojo bonito. After two matches in the Copa America group stage, Menezes' young team has struggled going forward.

    Brazil's two goals of the tournament came from quick snapshots, not incisive and creative passing.

    In the game against Paraguay, the attacking trio of Neymar, Ganso and Jadson were unable to dictate play and keep possession in the final third. Brazil were largely outplayed by Paraguay in their 2-2 draw.

    Although Brazil have one of the most talented teams in Argentina, the young squad lacks composure and experience. The Brazilians have the quality to keep possession and break down defenses with intricate one and two-touch football. However, they have yet to find their passing rhythm and attacking tempo.

    Menezes is giving the young group valuable international experience, but Brazil's poor performances have revealed the need to balance youth with veteran experience.

    Real Madrid's Ricardo Kaka could have been an asset to the national team. Still only 29 years of age, the playmaker could feature in the 2014 World Cup. Brazil would benefit from Kaka's contributions on and off the pitch. The Madrid midfielder could provide that calming presence in the final third, and act as a mentor towards young stars like Ganso, Lucas, Neymar and Jadson.

    Menezes needs to find the right mixture as the Seleção look to progress in the Copa America and prepare for the World Cup.