You would think things couldn’t get worse than losing a world cup semi final 1-7 in front of your own fans. But it did for the Brazilian National team. Crashing out of the Copa America the following year at the quarter final stage after losing to Paraguay on penalties was next. Then being knocked out of the Copa America Centenario in the group stages for the first time since 1987 and only the second time ever.
Brazil were described as ‘boring’, ‘uninventive’, and ‘lacking creativity’. Not words that would usually be associated with the Seleçao. Although sad, these criticisms were true. Despite having players such as Coutinho, Hulk, Willian and Lucas Moura, they were only able to breach the defence of minnows Haiti albeit in a 7-1 trouncing.
The manner in which they ‘achieved’ this unwanted milestone was the most disturbing part. Dunga had imposed a conservative counter attacking style on the samba nation that was hazardous to the eyes. Add to this Brazil’s precarious position in World cup qualification. Dunga was promptly relieved of his job and it looked like the world had come crashing down on Brazil.
A lot of the blame was aimed in the direction of Brazil’s youth academies, which have produced world class attacking players such as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Romario and Rivaldo in the past, for failing to produce such talented players in the expected quantity and with the frequency.
But over the horizon came a beacon of hope for Brazilian football in the form of players like Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Barbosa, Luan, Thiago Maia, Zeca and Marquinhos who formed the spine of the Olympic team. The amount of potential in Brazil’s squad is at a higher level than in recent times.
A first ever Olympic triumph was followed by their first win on Ecuadorian soil for 33 years masterminded by a set of young, refreshing and vibrant players, aided of course by the older heads of Neymar, Renato Augusto & the returning Marcelo to name a few. These players have shown glimpses of what they are capable of and Brazilian football fans can dare to dream again.
Although winning the Olympics may not seem like such a big achievement, the way it was accomplished should inspire hope in the hearts of fans. Everyone who played against Brazil was on the back foot for most of the game as Neymar and company were at their swashbuckling best. They played attacking football of premium quality and although they seemed profligate at first, once they got going they were near unstoppable.
Finally Brazil can boast of potent forwards as they look to put the days of Fred behind them. Gabriel Barbosa and Gabriel Jesus’ form for both club and country has helped the pair to earn big money moves to Inter Milan and Manchester City respectively. This will enable them to grow under the tutelage of vastly superior managers, Frank de Boer and Pep Guardiola. Luan was rumoured to have caught the eye of Barcelona as well but will continue his development at Gremio (for now) as will Thiago Maia and Zeca at Santos.
After a victory against Colombia which put them back in one of the automatic World cup qualifying places, Brazil can look forward to the tournament knowing that they have a team that could competently vie for the title in Russia. That knowledge is based on the new group of potential superstars they have on offer.
Article By: Ayoola Kelechi, @Ayoola_Kelechi