Alecsandro: Biggest event of our lives
© AFP

Despite fan discontent at the decision to eschew a late push for the 2010 Brasileirao title in favour of focusing on their FIFA Club World Cup preparations, all will surely be forgiven should SC Internacional do Porto Alegre claim a second world crown here at UAE 2010.

And on the evidence of O Colorado’s training sessions so far, coach Celso Roth’s exhaustive build-up plan looks to be bearing fruit, with his players clearly in buoyant mood and fine physical condition. What’s more, the squad’s lengthy preparation time has equipped them with the ability to switch between 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 tactical systems, depending on the circumstances and the threat posed by different opponents.

What will not change, however, is Alecsandro’s role as the team’s goalscorer-in-chief. “We’ve got these two different tactical systems and we’re well-drilled in both. Celso has been doing a lot of work in training so that we’re able to switch positions depending on how our opponents line up,” said the No9 in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com.

“At the end of the day, I’m fine with both formations. That said, when I’ve got another forward close by, such as [Rafael] Sobis, we can share the burden of tussling with the defenders,” continued the powerful striker. “What’s more, with Sobis alongside me and Tinga and [Andres] D’Alessandro right behind us, or with Tinga out wide and D’Alessandro playing through the middle, we look a stronger team. That’s because they all get forward a lot and create even more attacking moves than in the lone-striker system.”

They’re a strong, quick team and play exciting football, but I wasn’t impressed with them tactically.
Alecsandro on TP Mazembe

For the moment, both formations appear to be working well, at least in training, with Sport Club Internacional thriving since their arrival in Abu Dhabi. “The last three weeks of the Brasileirao were tough, because we were no longer in the championship race,” said the player, who was relieved to end a 38-day goal drought by scoring against Gremio Prudente on the final day of the season. "All we could think about was that we had the biggest competition of our lives coming up."

“But once you arrive here, you get into the atmosphere of the tournament,” added Alecsandro, who had a brief spell in Emirati football in 2008 with fellow UAE 2010 participants Al-Wahda Sports Club. "And once you can start focusing on just one objective in training, it helps take the pressure off too"

When asked for his verdict on semi-final opponents TP Mazembe Englebert’s 1-0 quarter-final win over Club de Futbol Pachuca, the Internacional striker gave a mixed review. “They’re a strong, quick team and play exciting football, but I wasn’t impressed with them tactically. I don’t think they mark particularly well. Given the quality players we’ve got, if we try playing a couple of one-twos with the lads breaking from deep, such as D’Alessandro or Tinga, we’ll cause them problems.”

And should the Copa Libertadores holders manage to overcome the African champions on Tuesday, they would meet either AFC Champions League winners Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma F.C. or UEFA Champions League holders F.C. Internazionale Milano in 18 December’s decider. Well aware that much of the media focus is on i Nerazzurri big names such as Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito or Wesley Sneijder, Alecsandro believes O Colorado can use that situation in their favour.

“We do get a bit fed up by our low profile," he said. "Our league championship is very strong, but it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. And the fact that people in Europe know nothing about us ends up becoming the norm. But I prefer to go into this event as the lesser-known side. They [Internazionale] have a virtual ‘World XI’ and always have one eye on the next challenge. We can make the most of that: if they switch off, we’ll turn them over.”