Some Problems with the Current Brazilian National Team
There has been great strides in improving Brazil’s game and finding a cohesive team with new manager Luiz Felipe Scolari in charge. It seems as though Scolari actually researches the game and inputs player roles unlike Mano Menezes did. However, we will review three issues many Brazilian fans are talking about.
Hulk vs Lucas
Hulk seems to be the preferred player for Scolari, on the right wing. However, many Brazilian’s are up in arms over Scolari’s preference, asking, “How can Scolari leave a skilled, fast paced dribbler like Lucas from the starting eleven?” Well let me explain.
Hulk brings a different element to the game than Lucas. Hulk is strong and plays very direct. Hulk has the ability to play a more rounded role than Lucas. Lucas might be a better creator and dribbler, but Hulk provides consistent right side defensive coverage, and fast paced counter attacks. So in this instance it seems as though Scolari is opting for a different style player, not the better skilled player. Scolari want’s to have security on the right side rather than a dribbler. Having Lucas come in, as a sub is not that bad. It will give Brazil the chance to change styles by just switching out a player.
Hernanes vs Paulinho
This one really baffles me. Hernanes is probably one of the best players in Europe. His claim to fame was playing as a marking midfielder at Sao Paulo Futebol Clube. His ability to steal the ball from opponents and come out playing smoothly with perfect technique and passing made him a top transfer for European clubs. When he arrived in Europe his new manager advanced his role to a more creative midfielder. Thus comes the issue in regards to Paulinho and Hernanes, “who should start for the seleção?” They now play the same role and position for their club teams, “attacking midfield role.” Both are able to advance up the field quickly, in a box-to-box role. They both mark and come out playing, resulting in scoring opportunities. So what are the differences? Paulinho, is a bit more of a brute. Paulinho, is stronger and is more compacted in the midfield while Hernanes is smoother with more quality in Passing. Hernanes is able to pass and shoot with the quality of a forward. I feel Hernanes is too good to sit the bench, however, I can understand Scolari’s decision. Once again Scolari is opting for a more forceful brute style than a passing dribbling style.
Scolari, is opting for this “defensive” style to give more “freedom” to Neymar, Fred and Oscar to create. If you have more natural defenders who are strong and able to run up and down the field quicker, it allows Neymar to focus mostly on offense. However, I feel it creates a huge gap in the midfield and offensive players. There is no smooth transition between defense and offense. Essentially Brazil is playing with sex defensive players, Marcelo, David Luis, Thiago Silva, Daniel Alves, L. Gustavo and Paulinho. The only one who can come out passing through midfield is Marcelo, and he’s the left back. So obviously this leaves the middle of the field open.
For the past two years I have been complaining about Neymar’s positioning. At Santos he would run the entire field but time after time he would always fall to the left side as a left-winger. Playing in the Brazilian League it has been easy for him to dribble the “easy” marking defenders. However, when Neymar plays with the Brazilian National Team, he plays against very good defenders. I never thought the Brazilian National Team Manager would LOCK Neymar to the left side. However, Scolari and Mano Menezes have done just that! Everyone complains that Neymar is not playing well, and the defenders are taking the ball from him easily. I somewhat disagree, I feel he is doing “ok” in regards to the rest of the squad. But, he is not playing up to his potentual. I feel, that the manager is more to blame than Neymar himself. I question Scolari’s and Mano Menezes strategy with Neymar. It is a waste of talent to put the main player and best player of Brazil’s squad on the left side wing. He hardly ever touches the ball and when he does he has two guys marking him.
Let’s be honest, this Brazilian squad doesn’t have a “stacked” team like the Brazil Teams of the the past; with the likes of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho or Rivaldo. So it is “easier” somewhat for several defenders to mark or close down on Neymar. If Neymar is placed on one side of the field, it facilitates the defenders roles. If I were an opposing coach I would tell my defenders, mark Neymar and half the job is done. In essence I would like to see Neymar play a more central role, right behind the main forward, “Fred.” This way he can create along side Oscar and show his dribbling and passing skills all over the field. Neymar should be making runs to get free from defenders left-middle-right of the pitch, not only left side of the pitch.
Roberto Avey is an ex-soccer player from Brazil. Club, Associação Atlética Ponte Preta in Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil, 1995-1998 under coach, Francisco da Silva Júnior “Chiquinho." He has since graduated from Midwestern State University in Texas, with a bachelor degree in journalism and helps coach teams in Southern California. Read more