Scolari struggles to revitalise Brazil
Published: 04.04.13 / Written by: David Gold
Luiz Felipe Scolari has now coached Brazil in three games since his return to the position of national team coach.
Charged with winning the World Cup on home soil next year, a bare minimum for the tournamentís most successful nation historically, Scolari is under no pressure then.
A 2-1 defeat to England could be swept under the carpet, as it was his opening game and some players lacked match practise. A 2-2 draw with Italy and a 1-1 with Russia later, and this Brazil team look rather ordinary. The defeat to England was remarkable in that it made Roy Hodgsonís men look like seasoned internationals who could pass the ball. Jack Wilshere was fantastic in that game but Brazil looked decisively second best.
Against Italy, Brazil found themselves outplayed yet 2-0 up thanks to some individual brilliance, before being eventually pegged back. The 1-1 draw with Russia was similarly stale in terms of the performance from this Brazil team, and it must leave their fans wondering where exactly they are going with time running out before next summerís World Cup.
It is slightly less excusable too, given that Scolariís predecessor Mano Menezes was getting Brazil playing some good attractive football, passing through the middle well. But there was a distinctively defensive tone to the Brazilian performance against Russia, for one. Scolari said that he was pleased with Kaka, back in the national team fold, but that he wanted him tracking back to deny Russia the chance to dictate play.
Kaka is not the only one back in the picture. So was Ronaldinho against England, whilst Fred and Luis Fabiano have been back in the fold. Whilst Fred has a good case for inclusion, prolific as he has been for Fluminense, the others seem like a blast back to the past for a coach looking to replicate history. And Fred, as good as he is, takes away from the strikerless system Menezes was developing that looked so fluid.
Against England it was Paulinho and Ramires playing in central midfield, with Oscar, Neymar and Ronaldinho ahead of them. A fundamentally limited and defensive central midfield is going back to the way things were, at a time when Brazil lamented an inability to pass the ball through the centre the way the Spanish could. They were looking like they were getting there again under Menezes. Scolari utilised Fernando and Hernanes against Russia. Hernanes can pass forward well, but it still seems like a limited system.
Scolari is a pragmatist first and foremost, and so the kind of extravagant Brazilian football the world is used to may not be forthcoming in the months ahead. The big worry for Brazil must be that he is actually replicating the kind of failure that he produced in his last post, with Palmeiras. He won the cup with Palmeiras, getting them into the Copa Libertadores, but was fired with the club struggling against relegation. They ultimately went down.
Brazil fans must be fearing that there may have been more to that experience than just a blip. They are unable yet to get the best out of the talented Neymar, and they must find a way to utilise his talents as best as possible if they are to be successful next summer. Time is running out though.