No9 shirt a good fit for Brazil’s Andressa

Though much of the talk pre-tournament on Brazil’s attacking prowess centred on the long-established trio of Marta, Formiga and Cristiane, A Seleção’s No9 shirt was entrusted to another, much less experienced player: Andressa Alves. But it was the versatile 22-year-old who most caught the eye in Brazil’s last outing at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, grabbing the only goal of a 1-0 Group E win over Spain that guaranteed her team a place in the Round of 16.

“I’m a skilful player and I’m not afraid to get forward in attack,” she said, when asked by FIFA.com to describe her style of play. “I’m quick and I always go out to give everything for the team. I’m a very persistent player, as I showed in the goal against Spain. If I hadn’t followed up my shot , I wouldn’t have scored.”

In addition to her never-say-die attitude, also working in this all-action performer’s favour is prior experience gained at two editions of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. “Unfortunately, we were knocked out both times at the group stage,” she recalled, on Brazil’s campaigns at Germany 2010 and Japan 2012. “That said, I learned so much from both tournaments. I’ve now got more experience.”

Also in her armoury is the athleticism and footballing intelligence to play in a wide variety of positions, having performed as a wide-midfielder, left-back and now as an attacking midfielder or withdrawn forward – where she admits to feeling most at home. And while her set-piece ability is another facet of her game that stands out on the field, equally eye-catching is a rather striking neck tattoo. “It’s a diamond,” she explained. “I like the idea of the sacrifice that goes into finding them and polishing them. And the word ‘faith’ is in there too, because my faith in God is very strong.”

Recipe for success That belief and strength of character has helped this footballing gem, who started playing at the age of 14 in Sao Paulo, grow into a key ingredient of one of the most impressive forward lines at this Women’s World Cup. “But it’s not just the attacking players, everyone’s important, the 11 starters and those on the bench,” she underlined sternly. “The best thing about this squad is it’s got a great balance. That’s a real positive because the 11 first-choice players won’t always be available, we need everybody. You make a winning team out of 23 players.”

Twenty-three players and a lot of hard work, including a training camp of no fewer than five months, during which the former Sao Jose player was able to fully focus on A Verdeamarela. “That time together made a huge difference, we know each other much better now. Physically and technically we improved a lot, while we’ve got a better understanding out on the field too – we know where the other players are going to be almost without looking.”

The icing on the cake of this fitter, more in-sync Brazil is the incorporation of five-time FIFA Women’s World Player Marta: “Oh, she’s a sweetheart,” gushed Alves. “She’s a humble person, very much one of the group. She’s always supporting us all on and off the pitch, she encourages us not to be afraid to try to do things differently on the field. It’s a pleasure to play alongside her.

“We’re on the right track,” continued the in-form No9, and it is a pathway along which victory at Canada 2015 – which would be a first world title for Brazil’s women – would only complete part of the journey. “The anticipation is huge because the tournament is being played at home, but the pressure is much greater too,” said Alves, concluding our conversation with a look ahead to the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio de Janeiro 2016. “This World Cup will help us to grow and to learn, but our primary goal must be to win this trophy.”