For a competition as huge as the World Cup, strength in depth is very much needed to take home the biggest prize. There are many countries, however, who can boast this quality. Also, at a time when defences will be rigid and teams will be nervous and stubborn, it could potentially be the one moment of defensive or offensive magic which can turn bitter disappointment into triumphant victory.
Through this article, I will identify the three key players who, in my opinion, could provide this for Dunga’s Brazil squad in South Africa this summer.
There’s no point in trying to be controversial, Kaka will be the most crucial player to Brazil’s hopes to add to their five titles. Real Madrid’s fantastically talented playmaker not only creates chances, but is equally adept at finishing them off.
Blessed with natural ability, as well as pace and strength, he is also remarkably composed, and exhibits excellent leadership qualities. He was tipped to be the next AC Milan captain after the retirement of Paolo Maldini before his £58 million move to Madrid last summer. All of these qualities combined make the ex-Sao Paulo star the complete package; the perfect modern playmaker who combines Brazilian technique and flair with European physicality.
Rated widely as one of the very top players on the planet, the 28 year old has been eclipsed by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the last two seasons, but he should be coming into his best years, and this World Cup is a real chance for the to propel himself back to the summit of world football.
During qualification and the Confederations Cup (where Kaka won the best player award), Dunga’s defensive, counterattacking style has hinged on the pace and intelligence of Kaka in finding the killer pass when his side need it most; he is the fulcrum for Brazil’s attacks.
In short, without Kaka, Brazil’s chances of winning in Johannesburg are most certainly damaged.
For Brazil to have a successful attempt at pulling off this counterattack game, the defence needs to be as solid as possible, to act as the foundations on which Kaka’s stylish attacks can be built.
Lucio is the linchpin for this side of Brazil, and is coming off the back of an excellent season for Internazionale in which his team won the treble. He took part in a defence which showed real class on numerous occasions, most notably during the Champions League ties against Chelsea and Barcelona, where he helped to not only keep out such esteemed players as Frank Lampard, Dider Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Messi, Ibrahimovic and Xavi, but to nullify them so they didn’t even look like the world class players they did for the rest of the season.
Quite apart from being a defender of very high quality, he is a defender who could only be Brazilian, one who relishes getting forward and joining in the attacks. His work rate when getting back is also a key part to his game, so that a hole is rarely created in the heart of the defence.
This may be seen as a controversial choice, as I have chosen Fabiano over the goalkeeper who many consider to have usurped Gianluigi Buffon as the best in the world, but to win matches, a team must score goals, and in matches where a side may only get one chance, it is essential that a team with ambitions to win has an all-action forward who can put away that one chance.
Luis Fabiano is that striker for Brazil.
For all of Kaka’s creative plays and Lucio’s courageous defending, if Brazil don’t score then they simply cannot win. It is especially crucial that the striker can finish well in a counterattacking system as swift attacks are likely to end with the striker having an attempt at goal.
Fabiano possesses all the qualities that are so essential to lead the line in a crunch World Cup semi-final, pace, power, ariel presence, fine technique, and classy finishing to boot.
His importance is also shown by how Brazil don’t particularly have another striker who is of the same mould has the Sevilla forward; you could argue that he is the one irreplaceable element in the squad, as there are other flair playmakers to replace Kaka and defenders to replace Lucio, and although they obviously won’t be as good as the main men in those positions, they would be able to mimic their play so Brazil wouldn’t have to alter their style, whereas the removal of severe lack of form of Fabiano would leave Brazil with a huge hole to fill.
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