Opinion, by Robbie Blakeley
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s two substantial friendly victories last week, first thrashing Australia 6-0 before comfortably beating Portugal 3-1, helped maintain the momentum the Seleção has built since their Confederations Cup triumph.
More important however for coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was the varied tactical approach to the games and the resounding success his tweaking brought. It will be a huge sense of pleasure and relief that his side have a couple more aces up their sleeve when the going gets tough at next year’s World Cup.
Missing four members of the side that won the Confederations Cup Scolari not only changed names but formation. In defense, Maicon was a like-for-like replacement for Dani Alves at right-back but the manager’s changes further up the field gave a different shape to the line-up.
Chelsea’s Ramires came in for the injured Oscar and the team was adapted to a 4-3-3 instead of the 4-2-3-1 that Brazil had used to lift the Confederations Cup, and since Scolari’s first match in charge in February against England.
Oscar had previously played on the right hand side of an attacking trio behind a central striker, usually Fred. Ramires joined Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho in midfield, linking that sector of the park to the attack but not getting forward nearly as much as Oscar had previously.
Because it wasn’t as necessary as before. Under the old formation only Fred was in the forward third for the full 90 minutes. Against Australia and Portugal Neymar and Bernard – in for Hulk – played in more advanced positions to support the center forward.
Jô took the traditional number nine role and rewarded Scolari with three strikes in two games. Now the coach has a real headache if and when Fred returns to first-team action.
But the understanding between Paulinho and Ramires was the greatest success for the Seleção last week. They scored nine goals in 180 minutes and the fluidity with which they operated, particularly against the Portuguese, offers the suggestion that caution won’t be the order of the day come June 2014.
Robbie Blakeley has been in awe of Brazilian football since a bright eyed and bushy tailed eight-year-old watched Romário at the 1994 World Cup. The awe has evolved into love thanks in no small part to England’s continued failure to win anything, bar the odd kickabout with Moldova. Having followed and thought about Brazilian football for over fifteen years he decided to start charging money for such sentiments in 2009. Follow Robbie on Twitter @rio_robbie