They had to have a second team. My second team was – and still is – whoever plays England.
But many people’s second team is Brazil and for obvious reasons.
They have the greatest players, the most memorable shirt, the best band, and the sexiest fans.
I loved Brazil as much as the next man, especially when they had players like Zico, Socrates, Junior, Cerezo and Falcao playing what is still the best football I’ve ever seen outside of Tony Mowbray’s 2006 Hibernian side.
But then I went to the Copa America in 1999 and saw Brazil fans up close. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I couldn’t believe it when they were chanting anti-Ronaldo slogans. The best player on the planet and they were on his back!
I moved to Brazil that same year and didn’t warm to them any more. Brazilians fans don’t just demand the best. They abuse their own team when they aren’t winning. And all these years of being the best mean they neither win nor lose with grace.
So, I can’t imagine supporting Brazil as my second team.
This year I have company. I’ve never heard so many Brazilians say they want their side to lose as now and the reason is manager, Dunga.
As a player he was a midfield hard man who reached the top through fight and determination rather than silky skills. Today, aged 46, he is just as direct and aggressive off the field as he was on it.
Dunga has no room for frills and no place for fun or fancy footwork.
His teams stymie opponents and grind them down before hitting them on the break with part magic, part clinical efficiency. They are horrible to watch with the ball and ruthless at set pieces. The only two players capable of getting the blood flowing are Kaka and Robinho.
Dunga prefers holding midfielders like Josue and Felipe Melo (Who? I hear you ask) to creative attackers like Ronaldino Gaucho or Neymar.
It’s not the traditional Brazilian way.
In spite of all that, I can’t help but respect Dunga. He is his own man and he has been ruthlessly consistent in his decisions. If he
wins, the merit will be all his. If he loses, he will never be forgiven.
His first obstacle comes against North Korea and it is one Brazil should hurdle with ease. North Korea have no players who are known outside their own country, apart from perhaps Japan-born Jong Tae-Se, who has been described in the media recently as a North Korean Wayne Rooney.
It’s only their second appearance at the tournament and they are rank outsiders to win the tournament at odds of 1000-1. They are 26-1 just to qualify for the second round.
Eight years ago, Brazil faced another Asian dark horse in the group stages. They tanked China 4-0. Expect a repeat performance this time around.
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