Something Great

Arsene Wenger cobbled together starting lineups with spit and duct tape and Denilson and somehow the team dragged its ass over the finish line in third or fourth.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Univision and Brasil's Swagger

"Ok, I have another theory for why Venezuela is wearing red wine," explained the Univision announcer. This was the 10th time the booth mentioned the color choice on the Venezuelan national team and Pablo Ramirez, the leader of the crew, wasn't finished bouncing ideas off his colleagues. "If you mix the colors of the Venezuelan flag together, you get red wine." His partners were incredulous, and so was I, but for entirely different reasons.

Brasil is back; it's about time. With Argentina rebuilding, and Uruguay still one bad loss from their usual existential crisis, those yellow bastards look terrifying, again. Maybe it was the five, yes, that's correct, five consecutive give-and-go's between Neymar and Andre Santos. Or perhaps it was Pato's effortless settle in the box, from a ball kicked 50 yards away, over his shoulder, with a defender painted on him, while he was at full speed. Maybe it's that Robinho looks really comfortable. I don't want to alarm anyone, but he's being used in the correct role now as well.

"There's going to be a big problem if Venezuela try to match Brasil's pimperies," said Pablo's colleague. Learning how to successfully use "pimperies" in a sentence is something that Univision can't take away from me now, but moreover, he was right.

Brasil, especially in South America, compels teams to try and play like them. It's one of the intangibles of joga bonito; teams disastrously try to match it. This was not the case when Dunga had them playing a 4-5-1. A four-five-one people, and no, that's not four forwards and one sweeper. Now they seem to be playing a 4-3-3, and it's a good thing I have to use the word seem.

But there's still one problem. His name is Lucas Leiva. It's not his fault, I guess, it's more that Brasil has nobody else to play his role. That is to say, Lucas Leiva is the best pass-first defensive midfielder they've got. If Brasil had, I don't know, Xabi Alonso on one leg and no arms, they'd win every game by 8 goals.

They may not win the Copa America. They may not even beat Venezuela right now - it's still 0-0 in the 60th minute - but they're not playing for this tournament. The Copa America, unless you have $70 on Uruguay to win at 11-1, is a mostly useless tournament. Brasil is preparing for 2014, and by the look of things, they'll be fine.

OK, more than fine.