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Both Ronaldinho and Kaka have been left out, with the former omission particularly surprising given that he has been in sparkling form with his club Atletico Mineiro.
I think he’s right to leave him out because Ronaldinho has failed to show not just his club form in a yellow jersey, but also failed to show the same appetite for the game. However, if Brazil don’t do well, the screams for his return will become deafening.
The big surprise is the inclusion of Bernard, another Atletico Mineiro player. The tiny attacking midfielder has been one of the stars of Atletico’s Libertadores campaign.
I think his inclusion is as much about preparing him for the World Cup than it is about the Confederations competition. Felipao pointedly stated that he wants to give Bernard the experience of a big tournament before next year.
Lucas, now of Paris Saint-Germain, and Chelsea’s Oscar, are two other youngsters called up.
Among the other brave decisions are the exclusion of Ramires, which I think is a mistake, and the inclusion of Leandro Damiao. The internacional striker has lost some of his gloss recently but Felipao likes an old style No. 9 and Leandro Damiao fits that bill.
Brazil still look weak at the full back positions, especially if Marcelo and Daniel Alves get injured. I don’t rate either of them too highly and Marcelo is always liable to lose the rag.
Brazil play England in a friendly at the Maracana on June 2 and then face France in Porto Alegre a week later. The Confederations Cup kicks off on June 15.
The full squad, from the CBF home page:
Julio Cesar – Queens P. Rangers
Diego Cavlaieri – Fluminense
Jefferson – Botafogo
Thiago Silva – Paris Saint Germain
Rever – Atlético Mineiro
David Luiz – Chelsea
Dante – Bayern de Munique
Daniel Alves – Barcelona
Jean – Fluminense
Marcelo – Real Madrid
Filipe Luís – Atlético de Madrid
Fernando – Grêmio
Hernanes – Lazio
Luiz Gustavo – Bayern de Munique
Paulinho – Corinthians
Jadson – São Paulo
Oscar – Chelsea
Lucas – Paris Saint Germain
Hulk – Zenit
Bernard – Atlético Mineiro
Leandro Damião – Internacional
Fred – Fluminense
Neymar – Santos
One of three men organizing the 2014 World Cup and June’s Confederations Cup warm up competition, he leaves at an inopportune time.
Stadiums are late, infrastructure isn’t being built fast enough and the budget is rising.
“Our problem is cultural. We leave everything to the last minute,” the former Real Madrid and Inter Milan striker told O Globo last week. “We’ve had since 2007 to get organized.”
And yet they haven’t. Why Ronaldo, who is one of those charged with making sure the tournament runs smoothly, is taking leave of his position right now makes no sense to me.
FIFA says he is an unpaid volunteer and that he will be returning to Brazil whenever his presence is needed at events.
The fact is, however, it is one more sign of Brazil’s lack of seriousness.
If you assume a position organising a major tournament like the World Cup, you should devote yourself to the task, not do it when it suits you.
Ronaldo’s departure on the eve of the Confederations Cup, with stadiums still not ready four months past the initial deadline, and public transportation projects so far behind schedule they probably won’t happen before June 2014, sends a clear signal to the world.
The signal is that Brazil isn’t taking this seriously.
As Brazil prepare to play Italy in Felipao’s second friendly match on Thursday night, here’s a reminder of why such games are taking place in Geneva, a home stadium for neither country.
Among the reasons: Time, money, and globalisation, as I say in my Reuters story from last year.
“It’s a trend,” says the headline and it’s not wrong.
It’s increasingly common for two international teams to face off in a third country.
The matchups and venues often sound completely random. Ireland have played Italy in Belgium and Oman in England. England have faced Brazil in Qatar and Italy in Switzerland. Argentina have taken on Nigeria in Bangladesh and Venezuela in India.
At least Brazil vs. Italy is more attractive than Brazil against Iraq in Sweden or Brazil against Japan in Poland.
Here’s the most iconic image of Pele, taken from the mural that surrounds Santos’s training ground. For no other reason than it’s cool.
I am often asked, What do think the World Cup will be like in Brazil in 2014?
My stock answer goes something like this:
“Visitors will have a great time. It is a dream come true for any real football fan to see the World Cup in Brazil and they will be made very welcome by Brazilians. In addition to the games themselves, they can enjoy beaches, music, nightlife, the lot. But when they all go home, the average Brazilian won’t have a lot to show for it. Authorities are not adding the public transportation links they promised, airports will still be a mess and communications will still be deficient. And we’ll still be paying way over the odds for everything.”
I wrote a long piece for Reuters that came out today about public transportation and how cities and states all over Brazil are breaking their initial promises to provide trams, express bus lanes, highways and metro lines in time for the World Cup.
The story says that,
Although exact numbers are still changing, at least a dozen of the 49 original projects have changed completely and won’t be ready by the time the tournament kicks off off on June 12, 2014.
Five cities – Brasilia, Fortaleza, Manaus, Salvador and Sao Paulo – won’t have the promised tram lines, express lanes for buses or metro links ready, according to Brazil’s Federal Audits Court.
“The much discussed social legacy looks like it won’t get off the drawing board,” Romario, a former World Cup winner who is now a lawmaker in Brazil’s Congress, wrote last month in a newspaper column. “Almost all the transport projects are behind schedule, some have been put back and will be opened only after the World Cup and others have been cancelled altogether.”
This is one of the big tragedies of the 2014 World Cup.
The second is that more people aren’t demanding that those responsible for the broken promises be held accountable.
England take on Brazil this evening in Luiz Felipe Scolari’s return to both London and the Brazil manager’s position. (See my Reuters piece on what to expect from Felipao’s reign.)
The former Chelsea coach has just one task. Win the World Cup at home in July 2014.
What happens until then is largely irrelevant. Only an unthinkable turn of events would lead to his firing before the tournament begins and poor form up to that point will be ignored. Felipao took over in 2001 when his team were considered outsiders and barely a year later he’d led them to a record fifth World Cup title. The dinosaurs at the CBF trust him and so do Brazilians.
Ronaldinho Gaucho is being given another chance to prove he can cut it at the highest level. Dunga gave him a chance and decided he couldn’t. Mano Menezes gave him a chance and decided he couldn’t. I can’t fathom why Felipao reckons the Atletico Mineiro player is worthy of yet another chance.
He may have played well last year but the World Cup at home is a serious business and that requires concentration, consistency and serious dedication, qualities that Ronaldinho doesn’t seem to have. He may shine on occasion but Felipao needs more than that at this stage.
Luis Fabiano, meanwhile, has a goals per game record at international level that is up there with the best of them (if this site it to be believed). His problem, however, is his temperament. He was sent off several times last year and got Lord knows how many yellow cards.
The pressure on Brazil at home will be immense and the one thing that Felipao needs more than anything are players who can handle that pressure. I doubt Luis Fabiano can.
The Brazil team:
Júlio César; Daniel Alves, David Luiz, Dante and Adriano; Ramires, Paulinho, Ronaldinho Gaúcho and Oscar; Neymar and Luis Fabiano.
Kick off 7:30pm UK time, 5:30 pm Brazil time.
Worrying news from Brazil, where the first matches to be played in a renovated World Cup stadium were a failure with the paying public.
Only 33,000 fans turned out to see the double header that opened the Castelão stadium in Fortaleza. The city’s two biggest teams, Fortaleza and Ceara, played games one after another on Sunday but still only half the capacity of 64,000 people turned up.
Why were fans reluctant to see such a big event live? Could be high prices. Could be that the games are on TV. Could be that they are treated like cattle by police and security. Could be that public transport to the game is atrocious and parking is absurdly expensive.
I wrote about those issues in this Reuters piece last week and the broader fear that real fans will be priced out of the new grounds.
The story started:
(Reuters) – Upgrades to Brazil’s crumbling football stadiums ahead of the 2014 World Cup promise a safer, cleaner and altogether more pleasant environment for fans but the luxurious new grounds come at a price – quite literally.
Brazilian fans are already complaining about high ticket costs and a debate has begun over whether some supporters will be priced out of venues that boast cinemas, shops, restaurants, and even automatically flushing toilets.
“I fear that the new stadiums being built for the World Cup will make football more elite,” Tostão, a former World Cup winner with Brazil in 1970, said in a recent newspaper column.
“Different priced tickets need to be sold in order to avoid that. Those who want to be waited on can pay for it. More humble fans have a right to pay reasonable prices and get safety and comfort.”
Tostão, once again, got it right.
Brazil has to be very careful here. It doesn’t want to go the way of England, where working class fans have been priced out and football lost it soul.
Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has just announced the squad for the Brazil vs. England match at Wembley on Feb. 6.
It is the first squad of his new reign and there were, as expected, a few surprises.
I think he’s right in recalling QPR goalie Julio Cesar and Lazio midfielder Hernanes who, I read the other day, has scored more goals than any other Brazilian playing in Europe this season.
But I can’t really see the point of recalling Ronaldinho. Talented he may be but he is lazy, and more of a problem off the field than a solution on it.
Fred deserves a chance given his scoring record but he may be getting on a bit for 2014.
Recalling Luis Fabiano, however, makes little sense. The hot headed Sao Paulo striker is just as likely to get sent off as score a hat trick and in the pressure cooker situation of a World Cup on home soil you can’t risk those kind of players.
I was also surprised to see Kaka missing, as he was superb in his last few games for Mano Menezes.
Here’s the Reuters story with more details. Link is here.
RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Ronaldinho and goalkeeper Julio Cesar were both recalled by Brazil as new coach Luiz Felipe Scolari named his first squad on Tuesday.
Scolari, who led Brazil to their 2002 World Cup title and returned for a second stint in November, also left out Kaka and gave another chance to striker Luis Fabiano for the friendly against England next month.
Lazio midfielder Hernanes, another player overlooked by previous coach Mano Menezes, was also included for the match at Wembley on Feb 6.
Scolari has less than 18 months to build a team capable of winning a sixth world title for Brazil on home soil.
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Queens Park Rangers), Diego Alves (Valencia)
Defenders: Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Adriano (Barcelona), David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich), Leandro Castan (AS Roma), Miranda (Atletico Madrid), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid)
Midfielders: Ramires (Chelsea), Arouca (Santos), Paulinho (Corinthians), Hernanes (Lazio), Oscar (Chelsea), Ronaldinho (Atletico Mineiro)
Forwards: Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg), Neymar (Santos), Lucas (Paris St Germain), Fred (Fluminense), Luis Fabiano (Sao Paulo)
When people ask me what I think the 2014 World Cup will be like I have a set answer that goes something like this:
“I think it will be the greatest World Cup ever because it’s any fan’s dream to see a World Cup in the spiritual home of football. Brazilians will welcome visitors with open arms and there will be sun, fun, samba and caipirinhas galore, in addition to the action on the field. But when the party is over, Brazilians will have a massive hangover and the government won’t have done half of what it said it would do to make the country a better place for all. Infrastructure will still be lacking and we’ll have paid over the odds for what we did get.”
The Brazilian government invited a select group of foreign journalists to Brazil last month to take a sneak peek at preparations in the World and Confederations Cup cities. They have a slightly different perspective from me in that they are more concerned largely with the logistics of covering the tournament.
But it’s still interesting to hear their thoughts.
Here’s Mike Collet, Football editor at Reuters, and Brian Homewood, the former South American sports writer, talking to the UK Football Writers’ Association on how they see covering Brazil in 2014. (See link to page.)
SUNSHINE…SAMBA…BUT BRAZIL 2014 WILL NOT BE EASY
BRAZIL. A country that conjures up images of sunshine, fabulous beaches, carnivals, Pele…the most successful nation in World Cup history, so what better place to stage the 2014 World Cup finals?
Mike Collett, the football editor of Reuters and member of the Football Writers’ Association’s national committee, spent two weeks in Brazil checking out the venues and any possible problems. Brian Homewood was Reuters’ South America football editor for 20 years. Footballwriters.co.uk asked them about the good and bad of Brazil 2014.
Mike, in one sentence, what was your verdict?
MC: It will be a fabulous World Cup, but it will not be easy.
What are the biggest problems?
MC: Travel and the language, the travel first. Brazil is a massive country and to travel around it is fraught with difficulty. We were on an organised FIFA/Government/State Travel Agency tour and we still encountered problems at airports.
Which was the worst?
MC: The airport at Belo Horizonte was particularly chaotic where the Departure Gate changed four times in the hour before the flight, causing general mayhem. We were lucky to be in the hands of the Brazilian travel people. Anyone in the airport that day who did not speak Portuguese could have been left stranded. The travel did work and was generally OK, but it is organised chaos and very stressful. We took nine flights in just over 10 days and every single seat on every plane was taken.
Can’t you drive between the host cities?
BH : Only a very few journeys are drivable. Rio de Janeiro-Sao Paulo is about five hours, other trips of a similar distance would be Sao Paulo-Curitiba, Belo Horizonte-Rio and Recife-Natal. Forget anything else, notably Sao Paulo-Cuiaba which is 24 hours, Rio-Recife which is 60 hours and especially Porto Alegre-Manaus which is 72 hours by coach to Belem and four days on a boat Belem-Manaus.
On the shorter journeys, what are the coaches like?
BH: The buses are quite comfortable, by that I mean no chickens or pigs inside, but there is a small risk of hi-jacking. The usual trick is for a couple of crooks to get on posing as passengers and their colleagues to follow in a car. When the bus reaches the outskirts of the city or somewhere remote, it is forced down a side road, the passengers are robbed at gunpoint and are often locked in the baggage hold. There are no long-distance trains in Brazil.
So what is your advice to football writers and supporters?
BH: Travel is best kept to a minimum. The system struggles to cope even with Brazilian holiday periods so I have no idea how they will manage with a World Cup. Flights are long and expensive. Sao Paulo-Manaus is three-and-a-half hours non-stop, Sao Paulo-Recife is three hours. Some venues such as Cuiaba, Goiania and Natal often have only a few flights a day, all on smaller aircraft so I don’t know what they will do if they suddenly have 10,000 Dutch fans wanting to go travel.
What about flying to Brazil initially?
BH: Where possible, it is best to fly direct to your Brazilian destination rather than going via Rio or Sao Paulo and taking a domestic flight. TAP is the only airline which flies from Europe direct to Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Salvador and Recife as far as I know, via Lisbon obviously. I think you can fly to some of these places via Miami although that means facing Homeland Security.
How did you get to Brazil, Mike?
MC: I flew from London to Brazil via Miami. The flight times were only two hours apart and this led to huge problems and loss of luggage for three days. Copa flies from Panama City direct to Manaus, Brasilia and Recife which may be a good alternative. They have a code-sharing agreement with KLM which flies to Panama from Amsterdam. Panama City airport is a much better place to change planes than Miami. It’s small, well-organised and you don’t have to go through immigration or collect luggage.
Football writers often do two jobs in a day, such as a press conference and then a match. Will this be a problem?
MC: I think one factor we must minimise for reporters is stress. It can take hours sitting in traffic to reach anywhere in the cities. In terms of a working day at the World Cup, I think it will be impossible for a reporter to do anything other than cover one thing on match day – the match. In my view, it will not be possible for a reporter to, say, cover a press conference in one part of town, and the match in another on the same day.
You said the language will be a problem, Mike. Without being a little Englander, English is the official language of FIFA…
MC: I would advise everyone going to the World Cup to start taking lessons in Brazilian Portuguese. Seriously. If you are out and about, you cannot rely on getting by with just English in your linguistic arsenal. Even when we were in Fortaleza, a Spanish colleague on the tour had some troubles making himself understood. Very few taxi drivers speak English, and generally very few other people do either. Often there is no other lingua franca, as we say in Aldgate.
What about hotels?
MC: The language issue leads me to the hotel situation. We were staying in very good four star hotels near the centres of town and language was again an issue. I stayed in eight hotels in 10 days or so and some common links were obvious. Of course, front desk staff spoke English, but often not that well, and certainly, if any complicated issue arose as it did with a loss of someone’s luggage at one point, the staff had to liaise with our guides to sort out the problem. The hotels where we stayed were fine, two or three were on the beachfront, they did feel safe and secure and this is the priority. But check-ins and check-outs at every hotel seemed to be based on some ancient unworkable greater Brazilian hotel mastercomputer and took forever.
What advice for journalists and supporters about hotels?
I am sure if you are travelling with an organised Football Association or BAC tour you won’t have problems. If you are making any individual or independent plans, do not scrimp pennies on staying in out of the way places that are off the beaten track without WiFi and internet. It will be totally counter-productive and reporters/photographers/engineers/techies will simply not be able to function properly.
Brian, you know Brazil very well, what advice do you have?
BH: A big warning: many websites include hotels which are often in very dodgy areas, especially in Rio de Janeiro. For example, the Sheraton in Rio is opposite a huge favela (shanty town). Locations should be checked very carefully by whoever gets lumbered with this job. City centre hotels should be avoided in Brazil as most city centres are deserted at night and weekends, making them a mugger’s paradise. The best hotels and restaurants tend to be concentrated in outlying, upmarket neighbourhoods. In Rio, these are Flamengo, Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon and Barra.
Barra’s nice, isn’t it?
BH: Barra is the home of the new rich and has sprung up in the last 30 years. Brazilians think it’s like Miami, perhaps unaware than Miami doesn’t have open sewers all over the place. You can’t really walk around it.
And the better places elsewhere?
BH: In Sao Paulo it’s Itaim and Jardins. In the cases of Recife, Salvador, Natal and Fortaleza, the best hotels are on the beachfront. In motels, rooms are rented by the hour and are often on the main highways into cities, surrounded by shanty towns. Probably don’t need to say any more.
What about car hire?
MC: The Agencies delegates on the tour had a meeting with FIFA and Embratour, the Brazilian State travel agency, who strongly recommended, where possible, for companies to hire cars with drivers. Driving in a Brazilian city such as Sao Paulo or even Salvador is not just like tootling down the High Street to buy a packet of biscuits at Londis. Much of the driving I saw was bonkers, even by London standards.
So a Brazilian SatNav should be on the wish-list?
BH: Not necessarily. It’s very easy to take a wrong turning and end up in a dangerous favela. Car-jackings are a threat on motorways in most cities. It’s inadvisable to stop at red lights in deserted areas in cities at night. GPS systems also happily take you to favelas. Road rage is rampant and traffic disputes are often settled with the use of a gun or knife. Radio taxis are far safer than taxis hailed in the street if you don’t speak the lingo.
We heard horror stories about crime and law and order before South Africa 2010 plus Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. Both tournaments were completed with very few problems in this respect. Will it be a similar story in Brazil?
BH: The thing about crime is, it can be very variable. Rio has become much safer and a lot of what is written about bus hold-ups and the dangers of withdrawing cash from ATM machines may no longer apply. When I was there in November, people were talking about the improvements and were also wondering where all the crooks had been sent as you simply don’t see them any longer. On the other hand, Sao Paulo seems really nasty at the moment. Policing is the responsibility of the state governments, not the federal government or municipalities, and safety varies wildly depending on who is in power. If Rio were to elect a new governor with different policies next time around, it could deteriorate again very quickly.
How are the stadiums coming along?
MC: We saw six stadiums on our tour at Rio, Fortaleza, Salvador, Recife, Brasilia and Belo Horizonte and while all were in various states of readiness, the press areas and planned press areas seemed to be first class. They were very spacious and when they are kitted out, they will meet the highest international standards. The press boxes all seemed a little high, but roomy and will also have, FIFA assured us, free WiFi/internet.
The Confederations Cup, which Brazil are hosting this summer, will be an interesting dry run…
MC: The warm-up tournament is being treated very seriously by everyone. FIFA are continually monitoring the stadium building to ensure everything is ready by March for the Confederations Cup in June. While the LOC’s [local organising committees] say everything will be ready, I have my doubts about Rio and Brasilia. However, the Confed Cup can serve as an excellent precursor for us as well and, granted, it is not the most important tournament in world soccer, it is very important for us as a logistical run-through.
You can argue whether Felipao is the right man to lead Brazil to the next World Cup or not but you can’t argue he’s not a better salesman for Brazilian football than his predecessor Mano Menezes.
I think Mano was dealt a rough deal as his teams were starting to play good football. And Felipao’s track record has been mixed since Brazil won the World Cup under his tutelage in 2002.
But many people reckon Felipao was brought in as much for his ability to rally the troops as for his tactical nous.
He proved that today, with a series of smart, entertaining and intelligent comments after the draw was made for the 2013 Confederations Cup. The managers of the other six nations – Uruguay’s Oscar Tabarez apart – were dull and boring in comparison.
SAO PAULO, Dec 1 – New Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari welcomed a tough Confederations Cup draw that pitted his team against Japan, Mexico and Italy and said failure to win next June’s tournament does not mean his side cannot lift the World Cup on home soil 12 months later.
Scolari, who was last week appointed Brazil manager for the second time, denied Spain was the hot favourite for the World Cup warm-up and said he aims to put together a team that will excite home supporters.
“I don’t see any team as favourite but I want to tell our fans that if we play at home … we have to play to win,” said the man known as Felipao, or Big Phil. “That is our goal.”
The draw for the tournament was made in Sao Paulo on Saturday morning, with Brazil drawn against Japan in the capital, Brasilia, on June 15, Mexico in Fortaleza on June 19, and Italy in Salvador three days later.
The other group comprises Uruguay, World and European champions Spain, the tiny Pacific island nation of Tahiti, and the yet-to-be decided champions of Africa.
“There is no group of death, this is a strong group just like we wanted,” said Scolari. “We want tough games that put us under pressure and get the fans going.”
The former Chelsea and Portugal coach pointed out that Brazil won the last two Confederations Cups but crashed out of the World Cup at the quarter-final stage a year later.
“Brazil won the last two Confederations Cups and didn’t win the World Cups,” he said. “So having done well in the Confederations Cup masked (our situation) a bit. I don’t think that losing the Confederations Cup means we go to the World Cup with no one believing in us.”
Scolari said belief is an important factor, and getting home fans behind the team is a key challenge over the next 18 months. Brazil’s fans are as fickle as they are demanding and they have not shied away from booing their own players if they are not winning in style.
Felipao said he wanted people “to believe more, to feel more for the team, to go to stadiums”, and said the team will do its bit to bring a happier atmosphere to Brazil matches.
“We will look into how the players — they are, after all, the ones carrying the flag — can bring back an atmosphere of joy and friendliness,” he said.
“We are going to work with the technical commission to discuss ways to get people that aren’t involved with football more involved.”
The World Cup will take place in 12 Brazilian cities in June and July 2014. Brazil has not hosted the tournament since 1950, but it is the only team to win the World Cup five times.
See them all here at the FIFA site.
They’re all predictably colourful and apart from two or three similarly stylised.
The more I look at them the more I think the majority of them are a bit of a mess.
My favourite is probably the one from Manaus (pictured right), which is the one that most avoids that stylised pattern and the abuse of colours: