In the past, just the prospect of facing the mighty Brazilians struck fear into even the most talented teams.
Whatever stars those teams may have possessed it probably wouldn’t match up with the players lined up in the trademark yellow and blue of Brazil.
Pele, Zico, and Ronaldinho controlled games in the middle and attacking thirds of the field wearing the classic number 10 on their jersey. They gave the number a special reverence with dynamic, and sometimes heart-stopping play.
Once again, Brazil has such a player: Neymar. Although he is young and still has plenty of room for growth, many are tipping him to potentially be the world’s best player when the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi hang up their legendary boots.
What Brazil does not have, however, is a ruthless number 9 on their attacking front. No forward of theirs in the past nine years has been able to nail down the spot left vacant by possibly the greatest finisher in Brazilian history, “El Fenomeno” Ronaldo.
Brazil are too reliant on Neymar
No one has stepped up to claim the torch given to Ronaldo by the likes of Remario, Rivaldo, and Pele’s teammate Vava. Every one of them knew how to score goals in a Brazilian uniform. In the World Cup, that responsibility fell on the shoulders of Fred, and the results were disastrous.
Now, after a disappointing showing against Colombia, where numerous opportunities were spurned by forward Roberto Firmino, Brazil has shown that they are once again missing a clinical finisher up front.
They are completely reliant on Neymar for their goals. Throw in the tact that the long-exiled Robinho is included in the current Copa America squad. He hasn’t really been a major player since 2010, his first year at AC Milan.
Even then, Robinho never truly looked capable of taking over the goalscoring reigns for the Selecao. Then there’s Diego Tardelli, a 30 year-old striker who plays in China. Aside from making a minuscule international reputation for himself, he can only be considered a short-term option.
Chances are, if Tardelli fails to produce in this tournament, he will not be the recipient of many more call-ups from manager Dunga.
At this point, the question must be asked: Will a real Brazilian number 9 please stand up? Without him, Brazil will likely do very little to erase the shamefully embarrassing memory of their 7-1 World Cup defeat to Germany.