Brazil: From Tragedy to Comedy

Juan Zuniga with a vicious knee to Neymar’s back, fracturing his vertebrae, put the Brazilian star out of the semi-final of the World Cup. Zuniga’s tackle on Neymar should have been treated quite similar to Suarez’s bite of the Italian defender yet FIFA has failed to act.

Brazil’s captain and defensive technician, Thiago Silva, ridiculously attempted to kick the ball out of the hands of the Colombian goalkeeper and received a second yellow card which meant Brazil would face Germany devoid of its offensive star and defensive stalwart.

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Brazil’s Poverty, Scolari’s Riches

Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks

Brazil is breaking out as a world economic super power but it has a long road to hoe before eliminating its sprawling favelas concentrated in its major cities. The favelas reflect the acute inequality of wealth distribution. That is why Brazil’s workers and would be workers came out in mammoth numbers to protect the expenditures on new stadiums for the 2014 World Cup at the expense of improving the living conditions of the poor. Brazil’s class tensions and sprawling poverty is in contrast to the abundance of riches “Big Phil” Scolari has at his disposal as he seeks to select his final squad of twenty three for the 2014 World Cup.

Brazil’s soccer was adrift under Dunga who was the coach at the South African World Cup in 2010 and even further adrift when Mano Menezes succeeded the sacked Dunga. Here comes Scolari to the rescue and for the time that he has been in charge, Brazil slowly but surely returned to its dominance in the world of soccer and are now regarded as favorites to win the 2014 World Cup in front of their adoring fans.

The tough task for Scolari is to settle on the 23 squad and the starting eleven. The back four seems to select themselves with Thiago Silva and David Luiz as the two central defenders. Marcelo is the starting left back and Daniel Alves, appears to be the starting right back. But that is not an open and shut case as the return to form of the 32 year old Maicon puts that position up in the air.

Neymar is the “boss” and will start on the left flank and Oscar seems to be the preference for the mid-fielder playing behind the center-forward who could be Jo or Fred. Hulk played well against Chile and is a serious contender for starting on the right flank.

Paulinho is definite as one of the mid-field players and Gustavo Luiz seemed to be preferred as the defensive mid-fielder shielding the two central defenders. Where does that leave Ramires who is ready to gallop when the opposing team is tiring? Robinho has been brought back and scored from a wonderful cross from Maicon in the Chile game. Will we see the return of Kaka or Ronaldinho?

Scolari should not look backward but give preferential treatment to those in their twenties who can withstand back to back games at the World Cup.

Scolari is another example of the vital importance of coaching. He has turned Dunga’s poverty into Brazilian’s riches.

How Good Is Neymar?

Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks

There was a mini-panic in the Selacao camp in South Korea as Neymar was hurt in practice and there was some doubt if he would be able to play in the friendly against South Korea. The concerns about Neymar’s fitness traveled as far as the Barcelona boardroom.

Some of the pundits doubted Neymar’s ability and prognosticated that he would not do well at Barcelona. Neymar has proved his worth as he already has seven assists and has scored three goals in La Liga.

Neymar came of age in the Confederation Cup as he led Brazil to a coveted victory at home. It is abundantly clear that Scolari has put together a Brazilian World Cup team with the talent capable of winning the World Cup but that will depend on Neymar’s performance as he is the straw that stirs the cup.

Pele went out on a limb and proclaimed that Neymar would be better than Messi. Pele argued that Messi like Maradona was a one-footed player whereas Neymar kicked with both feet. They are now both at Barcelona playing together and thus far there has been no rivalry.

Neymar likes to play on the left flank and functions as Brazil’s playmaker. He also has a way of teasing his opponents, gesturing to them to come and get the ball. Now you see it, now you don’t. He has an uncanny ability to beat men and let them appear in slow motion. His cuts are deadly, he shoots with power and his free kicks are delightful.

Neymar is only twenty-one and his slight frame is only beginning to fill out. He has shown that he can carry a team and when he is at his best, he looks unstoppable. We will see both Neymar and Messi at the World Cup in 2014. It will be a test of their greatness as to who can lead their respective team to the World Cup in 2014. There is much that will unfold by these two great players before next summer. Watching Messi and Neymar work on their ball artistry is a special treat for soccer lovers.

Undoubtedly, Neymar and Messi will be remembered as two of the great players of all time. Neymar is still growing as a player and will benefit from his partnership with Messi.