Kaka Return Could Serve as Inspiration for Dunga and Brazil

Robbie Blakeley@@rio_robbieSpecial to Bleacher ReportAugust 26, 2014

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 24: Kaka (R) of Sao Paulo fights for the ball with Arouca (L) of Santos during the match between Sao Paulo and Santos for the Brazilian Series A 2014 at Estadio do Morumbi on August 24, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images

Whilst Dunga's first call-up for the Brazilian national side since his reappointment was met with a generally positive reaction, settling on the right players for his rebuilding process will be a lengthy process.

Over at Brazilian club Sao Paulo, there is an attacking quartet that could feasibly consider themselves to have a chance of breaking into the coach's plans before next year's Copa America in Chile.

Paulo Henrique Ganso is producing the kind of match-winning form that saw him ranked above Neymar as Santos' standout prospect years ago, but it is his playmaking partner, Kaka, who coach Muricy Ramalho has credited with creating an upsurge in team fortunes over recent weeks.

Paulo Henrique Ganso has benefited from playing alongside Kaka.
Paulo Henrique Ganso has benefited from playing alongside Kaka.Lucas Uebel/Getty Images

The Paulista club currently sit second in the Campeonato Brasileiro table, seven points behind leaders and reigning champions Cruzeiro. Kaka and Co. are five games unbeaten and have won their last four in a row, topping the current form chart.

Ramalho is more famed for pragmatism than boldness, but with an attacking quartet of Kaka, Ganso, Alexandre Pato and Alan Kardec his team have the tools to match anyone in the offensive third.

And whilst Ganso deservedly attracts the plaudits, having scored the winner away to Internacional last week and putting in a majestic showing on Sunday afternoon in a classico win over rivals Santos, Ramalho identified Kaka as his “pillar,” and credited the 32-year-old with the improvement in Pato's play. The forward is the team's leading scorer, with six league goals.

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His [Pato's] improvement is directly related to Kaka. Pato is very happy with Kaka here. They have brought their friendship from their time at Milan,” Ramalho said, as reported by A Tribuna (link in Portuguese).

Alexandre Pato's form is much better with Kaka in the side.
Alexandre Pato's form is much better with Kaka in the side.Lucas Uebel/Getty Images

But Kaka's contribution goes beyond mere friendship. When Pato was 18, Kaka was the best player on the planet, winning the 2007 World Player of the Year Award.

The experienced head amongst Sao Paulo's attacking quartet (Pato and Ganso are 24 whilst Kardec is 25) he serves as a role model, an inspiration to those under his stewardship on the pitch.

There is always an inherent risk in bringing back a former idol. Hopes and dreams are heaved onto one man's shoulders for achievements come and gone.

Perhaps all that will return is the wistful memory. Kaka is striving to prove that is not the case, with talk already in the air of extending his stay until the end of the 2015 Copa Libertadores, should Sao Paulo qualify, as reported by Estadao (link in Portuguese).

More importantly, Kaka's style of play, fluctuating constantly between midfield and attack, can help his teammates adapt to the way Dunga wants his Brazil team to play.

The interchange between Kaka, Pato and Ganso was seamless on Sunday against Santos. Ganso netted a wonderful volley and then provided the assist for Pato's winner.

He is one who has clearly benefited from the experience of the Sao Paulo No. 8. The side are beginning to attack as a unit, and Kaka is key to that.

After losing his first game back with his boyhood club, Sao Paulo have won every game in which Kaka has played.

From a purely statistical standpoint, Kaka's contribution does not look particularly impressive. He has scored once and is yet to provide an assist.

But his mere presence gives the team a lift, particularly Pato. Sao Paulo have played nine games since the World Cup.

In five games without Kaka, Pato has scored once, whilst netting three in four games playing alongside the veteran.

Pato dribbles more, shoots more and receives the ball more often when his former partner at Milan is on the teamsheet, as reported by Folha de Sao Paulo (link in Portuguese).

Good news for Sao Paulo and Muricy Ramalho? Certainly, as the club begin to try to make up ground on runaway-leaders Cruzeiro and attempt to win a first league title since 2008.

But it also has the potential to be beneficial to Dunga and the Selecao. If players are to be called up purely on merit, the Paulista offence, inspired by their on-field leader Kaka, are moving in the right direction.


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