by Andy Roxburgh
Watching Brazil last night reminded me of a metaphor I used when speaking to a group of 50 Brazilian coaches in Rio a few years ago. I referred to their 'rattlesnake' style and they all nodded in agreement. Brazilian teams have this fluid, rhythmical pattern – the ball flows from one side to another, they go forward, they come back – they play their possession football, play 15-20 passes and then suddenly hit you with a killer ball. We saw that last night with Robinho's through-pass to Elano for the second goal, which was fantastic.
Carlos Alberto Parreira said to me that Brazilian players get their confidence first and foremost from their great technical quality. You can talk tactics all day but it is ability that counts above all. With Brazil the ability is undoubtedly there – you saw Robinho doing stepovers in the first few minutes against North Korea. However, it has to be effective, too. Parreira's view is 'I don't like those who just make smoke, in Brazil we need players who create a fire'. In other words, players who produce an end product. It's not enough to be a 'show' team, you have to be effective, with the right mix of artist and tradesman.
The other thing that struck me about yesterday's Brazil team is there was only one home-based player in the starting XI. Nos 1-3 in the team – Julio Cesar, Maicon and Lucio – were all in the Inter Milan side that won the UEFA Champions League final last month. It shows you the depth of their quality when Daniel Alves, who has been magnificient for Barcelona, cannot get into the starting line-up because of Maicon.
It is no surprise that in terms of nationality, the country with the biggest number of players in the Champions League's latter stages is Brazil. This is one notable change since when I faced Brazil as coach of Scotland at Italia 1990 when the number of foreign-based players wasn't quite as high. The style has changed a little bit since then, there's a European influence, and Dunga is trying to add a pragmatic element to a very creative team. But while they can defend and be cautious, we saw last night that they can still strike like a rattlesnake.