June 26, 2011

Group D Preview: Brazil

Brazil (#3)
Region: Conmebol
Coach: Kleiton Lima
How They Qualified: Won the Campeonato Sudamericano.
Prior Cups:
2007: 2nd Place
2003: Lost in Quarterfinals

1999: 3rd Place
1995: Group Stage
1991: Group Stage
Returnees from 2007 WWC:
(13) Andreia, Barbara, Thais (GK), Aline, Daiane, Renata Costa, Rosana, Elaine, Ester, Formiga, Marta, Cristiane, Grazielle.

Roster (Average Age: 26.26)
BarbaraGKFoz Cataratas2218/2
MaurineDFWNY Flash2544/11
Renata CostaDFNone2463/27
RosanaDFCentro Olimpico2832/6
FrancielleMFSao Jose2115/5
DanieleFWVasco da Gama2812/3
MartaFWWNY Flash2569/76
Thais GuedesFWBangu185/0

Recent Matches:
5/14/11ChileFriendlyW 3-0
12/19/10CanadaSao PauloT 2-2
12/15/10CanadaSao PauloT 0-0
12/12/10HollandSao PauloW 3-2
12/9/10MexicoSao PauloW 3-0
11/21/10ChileCampeonato SudamericanoW 3-1
11/19/10ColombiaCampeonato SudamericanoW 5-0
11/17/10ArgentinaCampeonato SudamericanoW 4-0
11/13/10ParaguayCampeonato SudamericanoW 3-0
11/11/10ColombiaCampeonato SudamericanoW 2-1
11/7/10UruguayCampeonato SudamericanoW 4-0
11/5/10VenezuelaCampeonato SudamericanoW 4-0

There is the old saying about always the bridesmaid, but never the bride. Well, if you look at the results for Brazil in major tournaments over the past seven years, you get the feeling that that must be just how Brazil feels. They finished second to Germany in the 2007 World Cup and second the United States at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

Brazil has not lost a match in a good long while, but part of that is because they play so few. They’ve played only 12 matches since the beginning of 2010, seven of which were qualifying matches and four of which were in a tournament played in Brazil. Their last loss was in the spring of 2009 when they ventured into Europe for a two game trip against Germany and Sweden. They tied Germany and lost to Sweden in those two matches. It’s almost as if the Brazilians go dormant in between major tournaments.

As expected, the Brazilians swept through their qualifying matches with little trouble, taking home seven victories by a combined margin of 25-2. And also as might be expected, Marta and Cristiane did the bulk of the scoring, with nine goals and eight goals respectively.

Their next tournament was the Cidade de Sao Paulo in which they went unbeaten, but did not win the tournament. They could only manage two ties against a strong Canadian team, in spite of having a player advantage for much of the second half of the final. They have played a single friendly since against Chile.

They return 13 players from their 2007 World Cup team, what was at the time, a very young roster. They have since matured and now many of the players are in their prime. Nine of these players have played in the WPS and several have played in the Swedish Damallsvenskan.

Of course, you can’t talk about Brazil without talking about their best player and the best player in the world for five years straight, Marta. It isn’t enough that she is very talented, but she is also determined and fast as well. She followed up her nine goal performance in qualifying by scoring another six goals in four matches in Sao Paulo. And if you think you can just concentrate on stopping her, think again, because that is much easier said than done.

The second big gun on the offensive end is Marta’s forward running mate, Cristiane. She is a great goal scorer in her own right. She has been plagued by nagging injuries on and off over the past few years.

In the middle of the field, it is the ageless Formiga that organizes the attack. A very intelligent player, she distributes well and plays solid defense. She is the soul of this Brazilian team.

Aline Pellegrino and Renata Costa are steady defenders in the back. Aline is the captain of the team. They are joined by Rosana and Erika on defense. Rosana is always an offensive threat as well. The veteran Andreia will probably be in goal for the Brazilians.

The Brazilians are always a fun team to watch, but one thing you have to wonder about this team is if they sometimes depend too much on Marta and Cristiane’s scoring. In the last World Cup, Brazil scored 17 goals with those two getting 12 goals between them. Yet in the final, Germany was able to shut them down and shut them out.

Brazil should have very little trouble getting out of Group D and into the quarterfinals. Barring any upsets, they should get another shot at Germany or the United States or possibly both. Can this be the year that they win it all?

Note: Some information for this article was obtained from www.fifa.com and www.cbf.com.br.