Brazil’s attack, not defence, responsible for World Cup debacle

After an action-packed five weeks of international football in Brazil, it is fair to say that the best team in the World Cup ended up as eventual champions.

Germany disposed of South American heavyweights Brazil and Argentina en route to the crown, with the home side’s capitulation in the semi-finals a match of real note.

For the hosts, a 7-1 humbling in Belo Horizonte by Joachim Löw’s men ended their campaign, with a 3-0 loss to Holland in the third-place playoff compounding matters.

The defeat again Germany was Brazil’s first defeat on home soil in a staggering 42 matches, with the longstanding record spanning all the way back to 2002.

The nature of the side’s defending in both games has been heavily criticised, and rightly so, but it should not only be the back four and Júlio César that harbour the brunt of the blame.

Neymar and Oscar aside, Brazil offered little to no attacking threat at the tournament and as such failed to dominate opponents in the same fashion as previous Seleção sides.

As a result of ineffective attacking, Brazil found themselves on the back foot more often than not against the better sides, placing a strain on the team’s rearguard that they could not cope with.

However, without being too stereotypical, Brazilian teams have always had their defensive flaws – even those that have won the World Cup in the past.

This has always been something that the historic footballing nation’s head coach has had to overcome, with an emphasis on attacking play more often than not the answer.

Taking Brazil’s last two World Cup triumphs into consideration from 1994 and 2002, neither side inspired huge amounts of confidence with their defensive ability.

However, the presence of attacking stars such as Romário, Bebeto, Ronaldo and countless others has meant that Brazil could dominate games and outscore their opponents rather than close them out.

The defenders in those victorious Brazilian sides, with the likes of Cafu and Roberto Carlos the most distinguished, were almost more renowned for the ability on the front foot rather than for their defending.

FredOnce Neymar picked up his injury against Colombia in the quarter-finals, Brazil’s campaign was over; they simply did not have enough quality to replace the Barcelona attacker.

The likes of Willian, Bernard, Ramires and Hulk failed to live up to their billing, while the side’s possession play was predictable and laboured.

The side’s striking options of Jo or Fred were simply not good enough to pose the threat needed to beat the best, which is such a shame given the glorious history Brazil has of producing world-class number nines.

Whether the disappointing tournament was a result of wrong player selection in the 23-man squad or an incorrect ethos remains to be seen.

However, with the likes of Ronaldinho, Robinho, Kaká, Alexandre Pato, Everton Ribeiro and Lucas Moura overlooked by Luiz Felipe Scolari, questions should be asked.

Of the eleven goals that Brazil scored in their seven World Cup games, four came from set pieces. A further four goals against Cameroon, arguably the worst team in the tournament, inflating their goal tally.

Yes, David Luiz and Marcelo in particular deserve criticism for their defending, but where was the beautiful football that Brazil has become renowned for over the generations?

Had the brilliance of a Ronaldo, Romário, Zico or one of Brazil’s other fantastic former forwards been present in the current side, surely there would not have been such as a need to defend extensively.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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