As Brazil prepares to host the FIFA Confederations Cup starting this weekend, and the FIFA World Cup next year, we had the opportunity to chat with Sky Sports correspondent Paulo Freitas about the Brazilian soccer team and the challenges faced by the host country.What are the notable surprises and/or omissions on Brazil's 23-man Confederations Cup roster?
The main omissions were Kaka, Ramires and Ronaldinho. Kaka's omission was not as much of a surprise as the other two, but he is still generally regarded as one of the best midfielders from Brazil, despite his lack of games at Real Madrid.
Ramires and Ronaldinho were left out due to a supposed lack of professionalism and commitment. Ramires arrived one day later than agreed, though he brought with him a medical certificate showing he was not ready to play. Ronaldinho arrived 25 minutes late to join the squad for a match against Chile in April, and his performance in that game was poor, although he has been shining at the club level.
Atletico Mineiro (where Ronaldinho plays) is considered the best team in the country, and thus the team's young star Bernard earned his place on the squad
. He is a fast, versatile winger with very good technical skills. It will be a great opportunity for him to display his abilities on an international stage.
Bernard's teammate Jo, who used to play in the Premier League, was also surprisingly included in the squad, replacing injured Leandro Damiao. Jo has become a lethal striker at Atletico Mineiro, but there are doubts about whether he can replicate this performance on the national team without Ronaldinho to feed him and under a much different tactical setup.With Felipe Scolari reintroduced as head coach of the Selecao, do Brazilians expect he can re-create the magic of the 2002 World Cup?
Scolari is respected by many Brazilians due to the 2002 World Cup title and success at the club level, most notably at Gremio and Palmeiras, but his tactics and authoritative style of management are considered outdated. He failed in his last adventure at Palmeiras, which was relegation to Brazil's second division last season. Brazil has been on a steady downward slope on the international football scene. Why?Brazil's decline
could be attributed to a combination of stagnation and a generation gap. Brazil has tactically changed little since the late 1990s, although there are signs, such as Corinthians' win against Chelsea last year, that this is changing and more managers are now adopting modern tactical concepts.
A bigger problem is that some of the players that were expected to lead the team in 2014 have declined quickly, including Adriano, Kaka and Robinho, leaving a gap between the winning 2002 generation and the 2014 generation. Indeed, the Confederations Cup squad includes only four players with World Cup experience (Daniel Alves, Fred, Julio Cesar and Thiago Silva), while many of the younger players, such as Neymar
and Oscar, are under 23.
Brazil's youth development is still doing relatively well, despite the fact many youth managers are more worried about winning titles than about developing players, and they often disregard players that are deemed too short, preferring stronger players that can outmuscle their opponents in youth competitions.
Another issue is that many players are still leaving the country too early, before they are ready, and end up not adapting to life outside of Brazil and getting benched, further slowing their development.Is it possible to bring back the Brazilian jinga the world fell in love with?
There are still many players with great technical skills, but due to early selection/identification at a youth level and the preference for winning games rather than focusing on beautiful football, the romantic idea of a Brazil that resembles the 1970 and 1982 teams is a thing of the past.
Most managers prefer a more direct and pragmatic style, which has brought success in the last 20 years, compared to the lack of titles at both club and international level after the 1970 World Cup.
Modern Brazilian club football style is based mainly on fast counter-attacks and on set pieces, and the average amount of goals per game is lower than that of the Italian league. Most of the clubs lack classic No. 10 playmakers, such as Botafogo's Clarence Seedorf. If the clubs have one, they tend to be imported attacking midfielders from Argentina.
Hosting a World Cup is no easy task. What challenges does the organizing committee face? What should tourists expect?
The World Cup organization has been poor due to corruption, bureaucracy and political infighting. The stadiums
will be ready, although they are costing far more than originally planned and many of them will become white elephants after the World Cup, as they are located in places where attendance is low due to a lack of top clubs.
The infrastructure has barely improved as efforts to improve transportation and the airports have been postponed or cancelled for political reasons and to focus on finishing the stadiums. The government will most likely adopt temporary measures to avoid any embarrassments, such as having holidays on match days in order to reduce traffic.
Tourists should expect Brazilians to be friendly, but they need to be aware that airports will be packed as they can barely handle the domestic demand. Taxi drivers, shops and other businesses are likely to exploit them, and most cities have areas that are not as glamorous as the cliches suggest. The Maracana, in fact, is not located near the famous neighbourhoods of Copacabana and Ipanema, but access to the stadium is easy.
Despite Brazil's violence problems, it's expected that the authorities will greatly increase security during the tournament, as happened in previous big events hosted in the country.
The climate will also be different from what people abroad tend to expect as the competition will happen during Brazil's winter, so the southern cities such as Porto Alegre will be relatively cold.
Foreign tourists should not expect Brazil to be the country that is traditionally portrayed in films and TV shows, but there are many things to see and experience. The country's continental dimensions mean they can visit places as different as the mountainous regions of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, where it sometimes snows, to the northeastern states such as Bahia and Pernambuco, which tend to be hot the whole year, to the Amazonian city of Manaus, to the huge metropolises of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasília, the national capital, which is a planned city located far from Brazil's coast.Follow Luca Sirianni on Twitter @siriannil
Back to accessibility links