Not the moment of truth, but getting close to it. Neymar scored a fantastic opening goal as Brazil avoided any trouble in their Confederations Cup opener, and despite the usual critiquing expecting the Selecao to play some version of sublime football, compared to the road leading up to the tournament, they couldn’t have gotten something better.
After all, a 3-0 win against Japan, a national team that’s been brought up and raised by Brazilian coaches, isn’t something to forget about. They’re the first team to secure a spot in the World Cup not including the hosts in an improving footballing qualifying zone, not to mention the very rough time they gave strong opposition in the 2010 World Cup.
As for Brazil perfection? There’s some sort of ideal and idea as to how Brazil should play at its finest. The World Champions of 1958, 1962 and 1970 are the prototype, but the sport was very different back then. The champions in 1994 and 2002, while having some superb and talented players, had quite a lot of pragmatism in them, besides all the flair, technique and sparks of rare football.
Problems? Weaknesses are probably more accurate. One of the problems of the current generation is the lack of a formidable striker. The use of a ‘false 9’ or simply playing with Neymar as the most advances player on the field isn’t something Scolari wants to do. He likes to see wing changes between his players, as Hulk, Oscar and Neymar never fill the same position for very long. This leaves Fred as the best they have at the moment, as long as Damiao is injured.
Fred hasn’t really developed into the super striker some thought he would manage during his days with Lyon. Now with Fluminense, he does bring a lot of experience and box-presence to the side, but he isn’t too quick with his feet or too accurate with his shots to make an overwhelmingly difficult target man to stop. The true threats at goal from the Brazilian team don’t come from him.
Where is this team at its strongest? Obviously, and very similar to Chelsea, it begins with the talent behind Fred. Neymar, Oscar and Hulk, who all had good performances against Japan, although all of them tried to do a little bit too much, each at his own time, to impress the fans inside the stadium at Brasilia. Lucas Moura might deserve a spot in this 11 at the expense of one of them, but Scolari is going for cohesion instead of picking players based on their talent and form.
Which explains Dani Alves and Marcelo, although the Real Madrid left back did put in a decent performance. Dani Alves has been terrible all season in his defending and delivery for Barcelona, but that hasn’t stopped Scolari from giving him the spot in the lineup. Again, it’s about creating a cohesive unit heading into the 2014 World Cup, hoping he won’t have to make too many adjustments down the road.
This isn’t the best Brazilian side we’ve seen, but there’s plenty of talent in the lineup and on the bench. If they can overcome the fact that there won’t be a world class striker to make use of in the tournament and in a year from now, they’re as likely as any of the early favorites, including Spain, to come out as winners of the Confederations Cup and the World Cup 12 months from now.