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Sad but proud July 3, 2010

Posted by Cesar in sporting me.
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No, the picture is not from yesterday’s game. It is from Brazil vs. Chile, the game that made me truly believe Brazil could have won this World Cup. Specially after the second goal: long lobbed pass to Robinho, who passes the ball to Kaká, who in turn puts it straight for Luis Fabiano to dribble the goalie and score. Such a great play.

That’s what I want to remember, not yesterday’s defeat. We could have won, the match yesterday could easily have gone either way. But the strong Brazilian defense “chose” the wrong time to mess it up and we are out.

Everyone is complaining back in Brazil, the witch hunt has begun. But I don’t see it that way. This team didn’t have flare, it lacked creativity, that I cannot deny. But it had heart. In 2006, when Brazil lost to France, I was ashamed, angry. The team lost with amazing players on the pitch and a complete lack of interest. Now I’m just sad,  proud of knowing every player fought till the end.

You guys just wait. Wait and mark my words: in 2014 we’ll be back on our horses and the cup will be ours.

See you space cowboys…

Brazil 2 x 1 Korea DPR June 16, 2010

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Brazilians celebrating the first goal

Of course, after all I’m Brazilian, in our office pool I bet Brazil 5 x 0 Korea DPR. But that’s the heart talking. The truth is the game was exactly how I expected it to be.

Brazil has a very strong counter attack, which Korea didn’t offer. And when the other team goes to the pitch with the sole goal of defending, with zero offensive pretensions, it is always hard to score. Very hard. In Brazil we are used to seeing this kind of team during the first stage of the Libertadores. Small teams, from countries with little to no football tradition, often go to Brazil with at most one attacker, who waits near the midfield, and 10 players try to make the time pass as uneventfully as possible.

I’ve been following the World Cup and yesterday’s game was the most obvious example of this attitude so far. In these situations, what usually defines the number of goals is how fast the first goal (if any) happens. The goal forces a posture change and spaces start to appear. Yesterday, the goal came too late, hence the small number of goals.

Once again it is funny to see the difference between the press in Canada and in Brazil. Here, the commentators were impressed with the Brazilian strategy, the strength of our side backs and the tactical discipline of the players. And they praised the Korean defense like there was no tomorrow. After the first half, they were very impressed that Korea DPR resisted the Brazilian pressure.

Then I check the Brazilian commentators online: everyone is pissed, complaining about the trouble the team had to pierce the Korean DPR fragile defensive system.

I think the truth is in the middle (as usual). At the end of the game, Brazil had 65% of the ball possession and had shot 26 times, as opposed to 10 shots by Korea. These are impressive numbers which show Brazil dominated the game from beginning to finish. What we need is to be a bit more efficient.

In time: Maicon had an amazing match. Supported by Gilberto Silva, who protected the right side when he was acting as a true winger, Maicon made all the difference and his goal was beautiful. On the other hand, Kaká continues to disappoint. I hope he has time to catch up, it would make all the difference.

See you space cowboys…

Last minute update: Spain vs. Switzerland just finished with a victory for the Swiss. It goes to prove my point: true, Switzerland is way better than Korea DPR, but it is very hard to play against a team whose only purpose is to defend. Switzerland has a strong defense and will cause trouble in the knockout stage.

Brazilians are not used to it June 15, 2010

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Brasil celebrating the Confederations Cup in 2009

Is it just me or is the World Cup the best competition in the world? I simply love it. I don’t know if it is because I’m away from Brazil, but the World Cup is driving me crazy (in a good way). Every game is interesting. Yes, even Japan vs. Cameroon.

Anyway, with the first Brazil match a few hours away, I thought it was time to write about it. I’m sure I’ll write again, but talking about the Brazilian team and the World Cup in general seems like the appropriate way to go for a first post on the subject.

One of the most interesting things about being away from Brazil during a World Cup is to learn how the rest of the world sees the Brazilian football team. I look at our midfield, with… erm… weird players like Felipe Melo, Elano and Gilberto Silva and it makes me very uneasy. Kaká aside, this is not a top notch midfield at all. I look at our attack and it bothers me too. Luis Fabiano and Robinho are not on par with other strikers from previous generations (Romário and Ronaldo just to name the most recent ones).

That’s in part Dunga’s fault. After the last World Cup’s fiasco, the captain of the 1994 campaign was called to give Brazil in 2010 what they lacked in 2006: heart. And he succeeded! But unfortunately, somewhere along the long 4 years towards South Africa, heart and defensive football got mixed together, and we ended up with a team that excels at protecting the goal but lacks creativity. The example I give to everyone when I talk about the subject is Ronaldinho. I don’t like him, in my opinion he never reached superstar level simply because he could never play well in the national team (ok, ok, there’s that one single game against England in 2002, but that’s all). But Dunga’s team is so defensive and unimaginative that I wish he was there. Even if it was to be an option coming from the bench.

However, despite all that, the rest of the world thinks Brasil has an amazing team. Everyone is afraid of Brazil, they think at any moment our team can decide a game and score goals with astonishing ease. And while I do envy Argentina’s attack and Spain’s midfield, I also believe we can win the World Cup.

But if it happens, it won’t be Brazil style, it will be Italy style. Strong defense and good counters go a long way on the second stage, as Italy proved in 2006. The truth is that we Brazilians are not used to having a good attack and a decent midfield. We are used to deadly strikers and amazing midfielders. That’s all. This year our football is different, but it is also very effective.

Oh man! You gotta love the World Cup! Writing made me super anxious! Today at 4:00 pm I’ll be in front of the TV, standing with my right hand on my chest, singing the national anthem. Júlio Cesar, Lúcio, Maicon, Kaká, everyone: make us proud! And good luck Brazil!!!!!

See you space cowboys…

Telê Santana: the master April 22, 2010

Posted by Cesar in gaming me, sporting me.
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I usually write about technology and games on the blog. But I can’t let this date pass.

Yesterday it’s been exactly four years since Telê Santana died. He was considered by many, me included, the best football coach in history and led my team, São Paulo Futebol Clube, to its greatest achievements: two Libertadores da América and two Intercontinental Cups, in 1992 and 1993. I’ll always remember that team with a lot of pride and a bit of nostalgia.

My most emotional football moment also involves him. When São Paulo won its third Libertadores in 2005, twelve years after the last one, I was at the stadium. And when the referee blew the final whistle, the whole crowd, 70 thousand people, started singing Telê’s name, even though he had retired a long time ago. An homage to the greatest coach the team ever had. I confess it made me cry, I’ll never forget that moment.

Telê Santana was also an adept of nice, pretty, offensive football. When commanding the national team in the 1982 Word Cup, he created what most consider to be the best team Brazil ever had after Pelé retired. No one thought true legends like Zico, Sócrates, Cerezo and Falcão could play on the same team, there was no space. But Telê made it happen and it was wonderful. Pure magic.

When that team lost to Italy in what we Brazilians remember as the Battle of Sarriá, the country was in shock. In 1982, the beautiful and offensive football preached by Telê Santana didn’t win the World Cup. But it conquered the whole world.

We miss you Telê.

See you space cowboys…

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