Brazil full-back Maicon says his countrymen are more focused on winning a sixth FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa than maintaining the stylish legacy of their predecessors. Brazil fans have always demanded o jogo bonito (the beautiful game) and in the past have gorged themselves on the skills of supremely gifted individuals such as Pele, Gerson, Zico and Ronaldo. But Maicon, a European champion with Inter Milan last season, says these days everything has to be subordinated to the team ethic.
"I want to be a champion, whether or not Brazil turn on o jogo bonito. Whether you turn on the style or play ugly, the important thing is that come 11 July, Brazil are in the final," said Maicon, whose Inter team-mates Julio Cesar and Lucio will be by his side at the finals.
With players of their ilk in the side, coach Dunga's Brazil have acquired a reputation for being stronger at the back than several previous incarnations. But Maicon added: "While it's nice to be considered as the best defence, the guys in there have to go out and do the work".
At the other end of the pitch, Wolfsburg striker Grafite is revelling in his status as the surprise choice in the squad after another fine season in the Bundesliga saw him move ahead of the experienced Adriano in Dunga's pecking order.
"Three months ago I would never have dreamed of playing at the World Cup," said the forward. He returned from training last month with his club to discover that Dunga had pencilled him in and found his wife and sons whooping for joy after hearing the news on television.
"My wife told me, 'You deserve it','" explained Grafite, who was a late entrant into the professional game, having sold bin liners until the age of 21 before making it with Santa Cruz as a professional in 2001. By 2003 he had signed for hometown side Sao Paulo and two years later he lifted the Copa Libertadores and the FIFA Club World Cup.
"On arriving in South Africa I straight away felt, 'Here I am at the cup,'" said Grafite, who had a spell with Le Mans in France before firing Wolfsburg to the 2009 German league title.