With 5 days remaining until South Africa and Mexico get things started, let’s take a look at the tournament favorites Brazil. While the Spain squad may look like a FIFA player’s dream, there is a reason the Brazilians are ranked number 1 in the world and why most pundits tip this atypical Brazilian side to go the distance.
Brazil are synonymous with World Cup greatness. Their ’82 squad who lost Italy in the finals are more famous than many winning sides throughout the competition’s history. That would be a good place to start. That team that included Socrates, Falcao and Zico are an example of the attacking prowess that fans world-wide are accustomed to from Brazil. This Brazil team does not have that same flair, but their results speak for themselves. Since June 18th, 2008, Dunga’s Brazil team is 19-5-1 over that timespan. 12 of those 19 victories have come against teams in the 2010 World Cup including Italy, Argentina and England. Dunga has won both major competitions he has led Brazil in, the Copa America in 2007, and the Confederations Cup in South Africa last summer. So combine these triumphs along with the arduous task of qualifying (in 1st) for the World Cup in the CONMEBOL region, and why is Dunga still so highly detested among Brazilians?
His teams don’t play with that same attacking flair. They are an incredibly organized, disciplined, strong squad that are difficult to break down. Their primary target up front, Luis Fabiano, would be a typical fourth or fifth choice on most Brazil teams. His team’s success is built upon the “group” idea, and he has stubbornly gone and won with his guys. It’s not like they have any shortage of creative options on this squad, it is really more down to the omissions that have many people befuddled. Most notably excluded were Ronaldinho, Alexandre Pato, Diego and Hulk; but there are even more notable defenders that didn’t make the plane to South Africa and that is what distinguishes Dunga’s led Brazil. This team’s strength is at the back. Lucio paired with either Juan or Thiago Silva, with Maicon and Michael Bastos at the full back positions present why Brazil are favorites. Couple this backline with consensus top 3 keeper Julio Cesar and you have a formidable defense protecting goal. Veteran Gilberto Silva and Juve’s Felipe Melo are as strong of a defensive midfield pairing as any in the field.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no shortage of creativity with players to complement Fabiano such as Kaka, Robinho, Julio Baptista and Elano. Dunga is doing it his way, and it remains to be seen if it will pay off. The uproar that would ensue if Brazil fail to win this summer’s cup would far outweigh the cries of jubilation victory would create. This country is chomping at the bit, just waiting to say we told you so. While the Brazilian media and Brazilians fans alike clammor for his head, the rest of the world doesn’t quite view this team in the same manner. It is a safe assumption that atleast 80% of us are in agreement that either Brazil or Spain will win the Cup.
Find out later this week who make up that remaining 20%.