For one thing, if Brazil keep up this kind of form, then they could win next year’s Confederations Cup and save Mano Menezes’ job. A recent 8-0 win over China was enjoyable, but then again, it was only China was part of the thought process behind that. A laboured 2-1 win over Argentina in the ‘Super Clasico of the Americas’ was more disappointing. Yet Brazil seem to have turned a corner of sorts, and it coincides with the return of their prodigal son – Kaka.
He was integral, as was Neymar, as Brazil blew Japan away. The Real Madrid playmaker had not been in the Brazil set up since the 2010 World Cup, where they were beaten in the quarter finals by Netherlands. Since then Kaka has struggled since moving to Real Madrid and his career has waned somewhat.
Yet back in the Brazil fold, he seems to be linking up brilliantly with Neymar, with Oscar and Hulk. Brazil’s system against Japan did not use a centre forward of sorts, and the false nine system seemed to fit the country’s magical quartet of attacking talents. They still have Leandro Damiao to come back from injury so when the Internacional striker returns things may change, but it is a positive sign for Brazil nonetheless.
The victory over Japan was one of the best since the World Cup, and possibly even the best including their performances during that competition. If Brazil can reproduce that kind of form against Europe’s best, they may well be able to reclaim the World Cup in 2014. With Neymar at his brilliant best, anything is possible really. The Santos star continues to dazzle and it would be a surprise if he was not the star of the next World Cup with his quick feet and direct running.
These are important times for Menezes and the national team. These friendlies are the only practise they will get in the long road to Rio de Janeiro for the final of the World Cup in 2014. Brazil are expected to get there and win. Yet with Argentina looking good again, Spain the favourites and sides like Germany and the Netherlands around, Brazil can take nothing for granted.
The return of the ‘jogo bonito’ will help to assuage concerns over their competitiveness. With a World Cup in Brazil, the world wants to see the hosts play with the flair and imagination they are so renowned for. Having players like Neymar, like Oscar and Kaka is essential to finding that rhythm and flow. The victories over Japan and China indicate that they may be getting closer. Only two years left to go then.