As far as FIFA Confederations Cups go, this one was fairly eventful.
For a competition thought of as a bunch of international friendlies with a trophy handed out at the end of it, the Brazilian-hosted tournament threw up some watchable games and a final that most everyone wanted to see. Until we saw it, that is.
Brazil’s dismantling of Spain was so emphatic that the matchup was over as a contest by half-time. Be careful what you wish for.
While many are busying themselves dissecting the 2010 World Cup winners and Euro ’08 and ’12 champs’ performance – wondering if their reign as the world’s kings is over – there are others pronouncing Brazil as 2014 World Cup winners-in-waiting. Woahh there!
Here are five reasons why I believe Brazil will more than likely not be winning next year’s World Cup:
Yes, sometimes you can look just too darn impressive for your own good. On the field, and from the get-go, everything turned out the way Seleção and its soccer-mad fans wanted it to. Better than expected.
And off it, you could argue that the anti-government protests caused by anger over the billions of public dollars being spent on next year’s World Cup versus the lack of investment in public services had a positive influence on Brazil’s on-field antics also.
The political waves of protest formed a bond between the team and the terraces, driving the squad to a fourth Confederations Cup victory.
As we’ve all been reminded these past few days, Brazil won the 2009 and 2005 Confederations Cups, but got no further than the quarterfinals at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. In fact, they comprehensively overcame Argentina 4-1 in 2005’s final and went into the big dance as strong favorites.
With superlative achievement can come some unneeded added pressure—as if Brazil honestly need to pile on any more expectation to what has become a massive overflowing wheelbarrow of the stuff. Coming with it will be the examination and re-examination at great length by potential opposition.
2 Weaknesses will be exposed
For all the positives exhibited by Scolari’s men – the performances of Neymar, Paulinho and Fred were obvious highlights – there were just as many questions thrown up.
For example, what will happen in games that they happen to fall behind in – often seen as a true test of a team? The attacking prowess of the likes of Dani Alves and Marcelo can leave holes that will happily be exposed by the top nations. And despite David Luiz’s memorable goal-line clearance in the final, he has difficulty sometimes remaining focused and not being where he’s supposed to be.
3 Persistent fouling
If Brazil looked like they were doing a lot of fouling against Spain, it’s because they were. Officially, the foul tally was 26 to Brazil and 16 for Spain. And they were just the ones that were called.
There are times, of course, when it is quite useful to foul, particularly when breaking down potentially damaging counter attacks when a preceding attack goes awry.
However, the main perpetrators were Neymar and Oscar, and if you were to transpose such play to World Cup 2014, it could invite upon Seleção some serious problems, especially in the presence of a no-nonsense referee. (There will be a few of the aforementioned around next summer.) All it takes is a sending off or a penalty decision to cause the wheels to start falling off the yellow cart
4 The competitive edge (or lack of)
Brazil will not have another competitive fixture until the World Cup itself. It remains to be seen if this will affect the squad come big-game time, but you can’t help feeling that it will.
5 Because Zico said so
But he does have a point about the Seleção’s current experience. “The Brazil team is still very young,” he told The Guardian. “A whole new generation came in at once. So now you get all the responsibility on a player like Neymar, who is only 21 and has never played in a World Cup before.”
While my crystal ball has been known to break down on occasion, it does foresee Brazil being a very strong contender at the 2018 World Cup in Russia once the current crop’s inexperience is overcome.