June 28th, 2013
02:40 PM ET

Do Brazil still play the beautiful game?

Neymar has scored three superb goals during the Confederations Cup. (Getty Images).
Neymar has scored three superb goals during the Confederations Cup. (Getty Images).

While Brazil’s World Cup winning team in 1970 entranced the world it ensured that that golden generation became the benchmark by which every subsequent Brazilian coach and player would be measured.

No pressure then for the current wearers of the famed yellow shirt as they prepare to meet current World Cup champions Spain in the Confederations Cup final on Sunday in Rio de Janiero's Maracana Stadium.

Brazil's captain Carlos Alberto scored the final goal in the 4-1 destruction of Italy in the 1970 World Cup final - arguably the most perfect epitaph to a team that had captivated millions of people watching across the globe who were not lucky enough to be in the Azteca Stadium on that June 21 day.

Encompassing wonderful individual skill within the framework of a team that seemed to have an almost telepathic understanding, the move that led to the goal started with Tostao deep in his own half.

By the time Alberto had crashed the ball into the net the majority of the team's outfield players had been involved in the build up to its devastating denouement.

There was midfielder Clodoaldo bewitching a quartet of Italian players, with Rivelino and Jairzinho also linking up.

Jairzinho then passed to Pele, who was standing just outside the penalty box's "D". Time seemed to stop as Pele assessed his options - before sensing Alberto’s run to his right - he nonchalantly flicked the ball into the path of his captain. The rest is history.

If Pele was the reference point for that 1970 team, these days it is the 21-year-old Neymar, who after the Confederations Cup will head off to Barcelona having signed for the Catalan club in a $75 million transfer earlier this month.

Neymar has scored three superb goals during the Confederations Cup, but Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side arguably will be the underdogs when Brazil meet Spain in Sunday’s final.

These days, with 24/7 coverage of football, perhaps we have become so accustomed to seeing so many Brazilians playing in Europe that the mystique of watching the Brazil national team is no longer quite what it once was.

Cast your mind back to 1970 and the f word used to describe Brazil's golden generation of player was: flair. More than 30 years later and it's functionality.

Or as a work colleague put it: "Look at those old players and they've got rad taches and long hair. It was Seventies flair on and off the field. Now it's streamlined. A calculated machine - just like global football."

“The globalization of football has ensured that the pragmatic goal is always to win,” Isaias Tinoco, who has spent much of his working life developing young players at Brazilian clubs and Vasco da Gama and Flamengo, told CNN.

“If you can have creativity and emotion that is OK, but the main goal is the three points and titles. Football is a big deal in Brazil and Scolari's team will try to have two characteristics - results and joy,” added Tinoco, as he emphasised the word results.

In Brazil, Tinoco is viewed as a pioneer in the organization of youth football, first with Vasco and then Flamengo.

He helped design the training facilities that provided an all-encompassing approach to the development of young players, where they would be housed, fed, educated and given medical care, all in the same place or within walking distance of school.

Vasco’s most successful period was under Tinoco’s term as technical director and Eurico Miranda as president.

Winners of Euro 2008 and 2012 as well as the World Cup 2010, Spain’s recent international success owes much to the way Spanish clubs - notably Barcelona - have developed their young players in a similarly “vertically integrated” way, though the emphasis is on ball possession, passing and movement.

“Spain created a method of game selection that runs from its youth teams to the senior squad,” said Tinoco.

“In the Under-20 World Cup, which is being played in Turkey at the moment, you can see that the Spanish team plays in a similar style way to the way Vicente Del Bosque’s side does in the Confederations Cup in Brazil.

“In Brazil we had this vertical integration in clubs –- for Flamengo in the 1980s and the Sao Paulo era under Tele Santana.

“Right now we have this process being implemented at Atletico Paranaense in Curitiba, while Gremio and Internacional also do this planning in Rio Grande do Sul.

“The Spanish method is well implemented by their international youth teams; the question is whether the clubs are following suit or is it only Barcelona?”

Brazil’s geographical size and the diversity of cultures has ensured that the approach to youth development has been more ad-hoc with no systematic football federation led philosophy as there has been in Spain and Germany.

Tinoco also makes the point that Brazil clubs spend more money paying tax debts than they do investing in youth development.

And economics mean that Brazilian clubs’ approach to nurturing young players is now influenced by the need to keep one eye on the demands of European clubs who want players that are tactically disciplined and don’t make mistakes.

Equally, Brazilian coaches have been influenced by their European counterparts who arguably have a more conservative approach to the game. Scolari, of course, was Portugal’s coach between 2003 and 2008.

If Brazil's “craque” - a type of a gifted, creative and skillful player – factory is no longer in existence, the South American nation remains the number one provider of expatriates within Europe, with 515 Brazilians spread across the 31 divisions, according to research earlier this year from the CIES Football Observatory in Switzerland.

Whereas in the past Brazilian players would move to Europe much later in their careers that is no longer the case.

“Athletes are being taken to other countries without completing the established cycle of development of at least seven years,” said Tinoco. “The exodus is very intense.”

It is an exodus that is understandable given the Transfers paid to Brazilian clubs as well as the third-party owners of players, but at what price for the future of the Brazilian national team?

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. GT66

    "Do Brazil still" Seriously? Who's editing this stuff?

    June 28, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  2. cdcw

    Scolari is first and foremost a tactical and discipline oriented coach. He received a lot of criticism prior to the 2002 world cup due to his pragmatic approach during the qualifying campaign, where Romario was the single world class attacking player on display. But then once he reached the WC he surprised everyone by first controversially omitting Romario who led alls corers in qualifying, then unleashing the attacking trio of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho (all 3 previous or future world footballer of the year winners) to devastating effect. But behind them Scolari constructed a defense with a midfield shield in front of it, that allowed the fewest goals in the entire tournament. Now the pragmatism is still there, but Neymar is the only potentially world class attacker in the team. There is no Rivelino, Tostao, Gerson, Pele, Jairzinho as in the 70's, or Zico, Socrates, Careca, Falcao, Alemao as in the 80's, or Ronaldo, Romario, Bebeto, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho as in the 1990's or early 2000's. With Neymar, Oscar, Fred and Hulk Brazil will not be beautiful, but Scolari will ensure they are efficient and effective. Argentina now clearly boasts the best lineup of 'beautiful' world class attackers of any South American team. They now play both beautifully and efficiently, having fixed their issues in defense and midfield.

    June 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  3. daniel

    The big question is: what is beautiful game on these days?
    The way Brazil plays now has to be adapted to today's game.
    Competition, results and victories... that is what soccer is about today but there still are some good and beautiful moments left.... Brazil win against Uruguay in the semifinals match was a joy to me.. I hope Sundays match give us Brasilians some of this old emotion back...... GO CANARINHO squad....

    June 28, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Reply
  4. wow

    "Do Brazil still play the beautiful game?"

    ...thanks for fueling the Republican's hatred of any and all non-native English speakers.

    June 28, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Reply
  5. cazsoccerrox

    "Does (sic) Brazil still play the beautiful game?" Come on CNN, hire an editor :/

    June 28, 2013 at 11:08 pm | Reply
  6. Mills

    Shouldn't it be "Does Brazil still play the beautiful game?"

    June 29, 2013 at 1:29 am | Reply
  7. Gustavo

    Yeah!!! Brazil jolts to champion of Confederations!!

    June 29, 2013 at 2:45 am | Reply
  8. Joilson José

    Whether we win, we're still the best in this art.
    A hug, planet earth.
    Brazilian greetings

    June 29, 2013 at 3:49 am | Reply
  9. ahsan habib sumon

    Win is more important now !!!!

    June 30, 2013 at 7:24 am | Reply
  10. Youganand Gopaul

    Brazil is at home. The team should win; otherwise forget the world cup 2014. If Brazil wins the confederations cup, it is a passport for the world cup.

    June 30, 2013 at 8:37 am | Reply
  11. wilkor987

    The style of brazil still isn't on the same stage as it was on the past. Their style doesn't give me satisfaction while i watch their matches like before. For example they don't improvise during play and they lose no sense balls. Their style is stupid like that : http://youtu.be/gXX22ZT4vdw

    June 30, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Reply
  12. Flavio

    Hope you're watching the final game now . lol that's the answer.

    June 30, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Reply
  13. Rita

    YES!!!!!!! 3 x 0 " barcelona" oooppsss. – Spain!!!! LOLOLLLL

    July 1, 2013 at 12:23 am | Reply
  14. Ana

    We still the best.....We are showing to evryone rigth now...that Brazil still good in soccer. We are winning now from Spain.....Adios..España.

    July 1, 2013 at 12:39 am | Reply
  15. Mariana Duarte

    Today was Brazil 3 x 0 Spain! Brazil is the champion of Confederations!

    July 1, 2013 at 12:45 am | Reply
  16. Glauco Ortolano

    The "underdog" Brazil has just beaten "the best team in the world" 3X0 to win its 3rd straight title in the confederations Cup and 4th overall. That's more title than all the other teams in the world put together.

    A team that has won 5 World Cups and 4 Confederations Cup to be called the "underdog" is either a complete lack of respect or sheer ignorance about football. Brazil came into the competition with two consecutive titles but was never treated as the defending champions. Beats me!

    As of today, with a combination of titles won in FIFA World Cups and Confederation Cups, Brazil has amassed 9 titles. Spain, on the other hand, has a mere 1 title. In 2013, Brazil has won the FIFA Confederations Cup and the Brazilian team, Corinthians are the defending champions of the FIFA Club World Cup. So, again which nation has the best football in the world?

    July 1, 2013 at 1:00 am | Reply
  17. Emerson Santos

    Brazil 3 : 0 Spain.. Do you have any doubt about that?

    July 1, 2013 at 1:30 am | Reply
  18. Thomas Walker

    Luiz Felipe Scolari do not respects Banco do Brasil employees!

    July 1, 2013 at 2:21 am | Reply
  19. Andressa

    After what we have seen on tonight's game: Yes, Brasil still has it all!
    It was definetely a good start for Scolari's team and they played fantastic against Spain tonight!

    July 1, 2013 at 3:03 am | Reply
  20. Marta Luchesa

    What Brazil did today will stay in our history. The strong connection among the players was awesome. Therefore, we Brazilians couldn't wait another result. It was outstanding.

    July 1, 2013 at 3:40 am | Reply
  21. Wellington

    Who is Tinoco!!! Looking for coaches in San Paulo!! kkkk

    July 1, 2013 at 4:17 am | Reply
  22. luis

    Brazil does not play beautiful anymore. Today they play very rough like Chealsea stile or Uruguay style.

    July 1, 2013 at 5:02 am | Reply
  23. 24wessie

    Reblogged this on Yorkshires and commented:
    Brazil played a great game this morning to be the best u must beat the best.

    July 1, 2013 at 11:14 am | Reply
  24. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    World class Neymar was superb in the finals this morning. The rest of the Brazilian squad members are robust and efficient. Jogo Bonito level is yet to come from Scolari and his men in yellow.

    Spain is playing their usual tiki-taka stuff. But it was not enough in the Confed Cup finals. Germany, Italy, Uruguay, Argentina, England and Belgium will pose problems to Brazil in the coming World Cup. There is lot more room for improvement and fine tuning.

    July 1, 2013 at 11:52 am | Reply
  25. joao henrique

    Brazilians woke up yellow today. we are the best.

    July 1, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Reply
  26. Jeu Wesley

    i've saw many players, good players, like Romario, Ronaldo, Zizou, Roberto Carlos, neymar is good, but he's stuck up, unhumbly.

    July 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  27. Jonny

    There is so much to address here. Let's start with some basic football knowledge. First, World Cup is a young man's game. Second, as in most sports, defense wins championships, and third, the field size. But never fear Spain lovers, there is hope in WC14.

    Spain weakness – they're old. David Villa lost his step, and guys like Puyol are too out of shape to play. This isn't the same Spain as the UEFA Cup. I'm surprised they got past Italy – I love that young Italian Squad.

    Also, Spain's defense is cupcake soft. Jorba alba and Arbeloa are jokes. Sergio Ramos is way overrated. Pique is solid, but slow. He needs a speedster like Danni Alves beside him. And Brazil's defense is the best trio in the game. That's my defense on FIFA 13. Thiago silva is the best cb in the game, Alves is the best outside back, and Luiz can do it all, literally. And also, Marcelo is a stud. Real Madrid went downhill when he wasn't playing. Marcelo is a bigger, stronger, faster Sergio Ramos.

    The field size catered perfectly to Brazil. Spain is a small possession team. Playing on a small field means less space and creates a more physical game. One Brazilian equals three Spaniards. Did you guys see Hulk? He looks like Hulk! Spain can't play compact and physical. Put them on a bigger field and the game will be entirely different.

    The Spain coaching was pathetic this past Confederate Cup. Why is Torres the 1? He should never be on the field. Spain won last World Cup because he was on the bench. Also, Spain needs to put Mata and David Silva at the 2s. David Silva can ball. I love the left side threat when Villa and Silva stinging shots. Also, Spain HAS to take out sissy Torres and Pedro. Put Villa at the 1! In big games Villa will show up!

    Watch the WC Cinderella team will be Belgium. And France wins u20 WC.

    July 11, 2013 at 5:01 am | Reply

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