What tournament do you get for the country that's won just about everything? You get them a spot in the Confed Cup, and you watch them flounder, wrecked by complete and total lack of interest.
Brazil could win a tournament like this at a canter, but they likely won't, using it instead as a nice warm-up for the final run of World Cup qualifiers to blood in the youngsters and keep their established stars in match fitness.
In short, the Confederations Cup is to Brazil as the Carling Cup is to Manchester United.
To be honest, Dunga and his cohorts would be well served in taking this tournament somewhat seriously, having experienced some difficult form of late; 0-0 home draws to Bolivia and Colombia in WC Qualifying, a 1-1 draw in Ecuador, and a difficult 2-1 win at home to Paraguay are just some of their travails over the 2008/09 season. But they likely won't due to the upcoming slate of qualifiers; while they do still lead the CONMEBOL standings, a Liverpool-esque 6 draws in 14 games means they're not exactly firing on all cylinders.
So what does this have to do with the upcoming trip to South Africa?
Well, it's likely they'll phone it in considering the need to save their good form for the World Cup run-in. The selected squad is a hodgepodge of the established (Gilberto Silva, Lucio, Kaka, Robinho, Maicon) and the next gen (Nilmar, Pato, Felipe Melo), and although the average age of the squad trends old, there's still plenty of liveliness in their expected 4-3-3 formation.
It's a luxury for Brazil to have so much attacking power at their disposal, and they'll be crowding opponents' penalty areas all tournament long. However, such is their supreme confidence that they will struggle on, saving their top gear for the return trip to South Africa in 2010. Plus, Dunga isn't the world's most electrifying tactician (he's still showing the scars of being lumped in with that dour 4-4-2 his country used in Italia '90 to underwhelming effect), so that only adds to the odds that we'll not be so dazzled when they take the field.
I mean, when the chips are down, will Kaka really jeopardize that shiny new deal at the Bernabeu to toepoke in the winner under heavy pressure? Or Robinho, a guy who rivals Berbatov for an shockingly low effort-to-talent ratio? If anyone propels the yellow and green to victory, it'll be the guys who don't have established resumes to fall back on just yet.
Prediction: Semi-finalists with ease, though I wouldn't be surprised if they fall to Spain or Italy when it counts, two countries that seemingly need the wins for World Cup confidence more than the Selecao do.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Beware the Dunga: easily the least Brazilian soccer player ever