It was in Japan and Korea in 2002 that Brazil won their most recent World Cup as the so-called “3Rs” – Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo – showed off their brilliance. Brazil’s manager for their fifth World Cup title was Luiz Felipe Scolari and how ironic it is that one of the world’s great footballing nations is enjoying a resurrection once more under Scolari’s guidance. During his 11-year absence, Carlos Parreira, Dunga and Mano Menezes all tried and failed to bring back the glory years but after Brazil’s emphatic win in the Confederations Cup this weekend Scolari is again the man exciting a nation.
It has been merely half a year since “Big Phil” took over the Brazil national team for the second time and he moved quickly to ensure Confederations Cup proved he has them back on track. A comprehensive 3-0 win over reigning world champions Spain was the perfect tonic as Brazil prepares to host the World Cup next year and there are plenty of reasons to expect something special from the Samba next summer with their exciting mix of worldly experience and brilliant youth.
Of the current squad, goalkeeper Júlio César is easily the most experienced veteran and he will be more determined than ever to make-up for the blunder that saw Brazil eliminated in the semi-finals. Eye-catching wunderkind Neymar heightened his profile by claiming the Golden Ball Award as the player of the tournament. European center back duo David Luiz and Thiago Silva were as solid as rock while the midfield isn’t short of creativity with the likes of Oscar and Paulinho. The attacking trio of Neymar, Fred and Hulk will no doubt have opponents quacking in their boots with Fred scoring a classy double in the final and Neymar smashing home a cracking goal.
This is certainly not the most creative Seleção in their history, but it does seem to have the right balance between attack and defense and made a real statement by ending Spain’s 29-games unbeaten run. Brazil can only improve with more players heading to Europe this summer. Neymar is officially on his way to Barcelona, while Paulinho is almost certain to join Tottenham Hotspur in a £17 million deal. These are exciting times for Brazil as they prepare for football’s biggest part in 12 months’ time.