The post-mortem was well and truly opened after Brazil’s humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany on Tuesday – why this? Why that? What went wrong?
Well, take nothing away from the Germans first and foremost for what was such a ruthless performance and they were not one bit intimidated by the hosts.
But this was no ordinary side. This was Brazil – the connoisseurs of the game. Five World Cups. Envious history.
People say it was not the best Brazilian side ever, but it still consisted of some very good players in their own right. Not necessarily world beaters, but more than capable of holding their own.
Loss of identity
Where was the traditional flair though? Put it this way – I do not support this “European” Brazil. 19 players in their squad at these finals are currently plying their trade in Europe.
And forget Europe. It could have been North America, Asia, Oceania, the list goes on.
For me, the tipping point has gone way too far. It cannot be benefitting the national team at all for the way they play.
They have had success in the past with more Brazilian-based players in the squad. The great team of 1970 were all plying their trade in their homeland, in 1994 and 2002 there was fairly even balance in numbers, with the latter year seeing the 3Rs (Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho) at their peak. In 2014, just four home-based players – Fred, Jo and two reserve keepers Jefferson and Victor.
The difference in balance has been evident during the tournament because they have not looked like a “Brazilian” team. They have been lucky to even reach the semi-finals in my opinion, they have not peaked at all. The 4-1 win over already-eliminated Cameroon in the group stages is about as convincing as they have been.
They needed Mauricio Pinilla’s effort to hit the crossbar and then a penalty shootout to see off the impressive Chile in the last 16. And they only just scraped past the even more stylish Colombia thanks to one moment of brilliance from David Luiz.
But they were well and truly found out on Tuesday against a side, whose example is staring us in the face of a country that has to have a core of players who are playing in their own nation in order to implement the style of Football.
Brazil specifically need to do it this way. Instead they have relied on Neymar to carry them through the tournament, and they simply had no answer when he got injured albeit deplorably.
Don’t get me wrong, it can work. Look at Argentina with Lionel Messi, even they only have three players plying their trade in their home country. And one wonders how they would have coped should he have picked up an injury at all over the course of the finals.
Other countries example
The Germans have set the best example as touched upon before. They have got the majority of players from four years ago who turned up in South Africa with no hope at all. Yet they went all the way to the last four and are now established world stars, mainly winning trophy after trophy at Bayern Munich.
But let’s not forget Mexico. Now their boss Miguel Herrera has publically dropped European-based players from his squad in order to accommodate home-based ones. And they had a very good tournament as a result; it took some late Dutch inspiration for them to eventually succumb in the last 16. But they are in a much better place now that their style of play can now be implemented and they will go far.
Look at the Spain hat-trick winners. Yes, it seems that their batteries have finally run out this summer. But it is no coincidence that the number of La Liga-based players in the squad had dropped significantly too. Their victories at the European Championships saw them have just five players from outside their top league, while the World Cup-winning side four years had just three.
Italy’s 2006-winning 23 were made up entirely of Serie A representatives. The examples are staring us in the face of these teams that need to have the majority of their players active in their own nation, giving the best results in playing their way at major tournaments.
Yes I understand that playing in Europe has given the likes of Neymar a platform to really showcase their talent on the world stage, but it is clearly having a negative effect on the national team.
Brazil need to play the “Brazilian” way so that they can win tournaments again. That will not happen if they do not take a few steps backwards.
Their best bet would be for FIFA to implement a rule where you were only able to select players for the national team who are plying their trade in their home nation. This would certainly determine the wheat from the chaff. And maybe with foreign imports returning to their homeland, England may even benefit and start challenging at major tournaments!
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