Tuesday 22 October 2013

Wildcard city: Five players who could play themselves into Brazil's World Cup squad

By now, Luiz Felipe Scolari has already identified most of the players who – barring injury or a drastic loss of form – will represent Brazil at next summer’s World Cup. The base of the squad that performed so well at the Confederations Cup will be maintained, with Felipão thought to have 17 or 18 names in mind even at this early stage.

Yet there remain places to be won. In my latest piece for WhoScored, I look at five players who could be dark horses for Scolari’s squad based on their performances in Brazil. Have a read of it here.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Variations on a theme: With his World Cup blueprint sorted, Scolari can afford to explore his options

As countries from every corner of the globe fought for their places at the 2014 World Cup this weekend, the hosts of next summer’s tournament had a rather more relaxed assignment. The Never-Ending Friendlies Tour (sounds like a Wedding Present album, that) took Brazil to the Far East, where they beat South Korea and Zambia.

Neither game was particularly thrilling. The first, in Seoul’s imaginatively named World Cup Stadium, was a scruffy, niggly affair, lit up only by a Neymar free-kick and a typically assured finish from Oscar. From there, Luiz Felipe Scolari and his charges hopped over to Beijing to see off the Copper Bullets with a businesslike display.

My latest Yahoo! Eurosport column, on Brazil's growing confidence ahead of the World Cup, can be read here.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

A rope for Dopey: Dunga the latest to learn that Brazilian football waits for no man

The best manager in the world to share a name with one of the Seven Dwarfs is out of work again.

Dunga (‘Dopey’ in Portuguese) was dismissed by Internacional last week, just 10 months after taking over at the Porto Alegre club. His stewardship yielded 26 wins in 53 games, but a winless streak in September proved too difficult for the club’s hierarchy to ignore.

Read the rest of this article, on the former Brazil boss, on the Yahoo! Eurosport website.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Brazilian football digest: September

Thwack! Bang! Whoosh! Those sounds, just in case your onomatopoeia radar is playing up today (hey, it happens), are just some of the goals scored this month by a player whose name will be unknown to many outside Brazil. 

In my latest Betting Expert column, I heap praise upon Gilberto, Portuguesa's goal plunderer extraordinaire, and add to the growing pile of plaudits gathered by Série A leaders Cruzeiro. Read it here.

Friday 4 October 2013

Common Sense FC: Players call for long-overdue change to Brazil's football calendar

First it was the students. Incensed not simply by a rise in the cost of public transport, but by the broadening impasse between public and private interests that it signified, they took to meeting rooms and then to the streets. A hundred people became a thousand and the zeroes kept being added.

Soon, it seemed to the outside world, Brazil was aflame. That may have been partly true, but a far more prevalent feeling – at least within the country itself – was that Brazil was alive. What started as a dispute about bus fares became a rainbow tapestry of causes, claims and (for the most part) contained chaos.

Encouraged by the movement’s adopted slogan, “Vem pra rua!” (Come to the street!), the country found its voice for the first time in over 20 years. It was angry and indignant. It was beautiful.

The protests eventually came to an end, as everything does. But something of the spirit of those few weeks (or is it just the tear gas?) has remained in the air. That, at least, is the only real way of parsing what has been a landmark couple of weeks in Brazilian football.

Read the rest of this article on the Common Sense FC movement, at Yahoo! Eurosport.