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More Than a Friendly!

February 8, 2011

Renato Augusto: a new Number 10!

Welcome back, dear readers!

I’ve been absent due to my work in the realm of directing for the Theatre! But now that the play is done, and the lines spewed by the actors have turned into thin air, I return to my beloved blog to preach a little more about another passion of mine: futebol!

And I must confess, I write this note with a sick feeling in my stomach, slightly terrified at the challenge my Brazilian boys are about to face…

The Selecao are set to take the green stage this Wednesday, February 9th, against one of their most intimidating opponents: France.

It will be a grudge match.

Yes, the French had a terribly embarrassing World Cup; yes, they no longer have a Zidane amongst their cast members; yes, they’ll be missing Nasri, their most formidable player right now…but I don’t care. A match against France, anytime (and especially in France), brings back sickening feelings to all Brazilians – even in a “friendly” game like this one.

The bare truth is that both teams will go into this under great pressure to perform and succeed. Both nations need to win, and neither manager is seeing this as a “pointless” friendly game. Blanc and Mano are in the process of re-building their teams, and both will battle to the death in an attempt to exorcise their own demons. The French want to forget their shameful campaign in Africa, and the Brazilians seek to re-invent themselves by washing off Dunga’s five-year era of cold pragmatism (a task which has proven to be more difficult than many people thought). And, lest we forget, Brazil are still healing from that defeat against arch-rivals Argentina in November…

Furthermore, these two nations share quite an intriguing soccer history that bares relevance. France eliminated Brazil in the quarter-final stages of both the 1986 and 2006 World Cups, and they also shredded the Samba Boys to pieces in the 1998 World Cup final by winning 3 x 0. In fact, the last time Brazil beat France at a World Cup was in 1958, when a 17-year old Pele led Brazil to the ultimate glory of winning the tournament in Sweden. Indeed, quite some time ago…

Since 1958, Brazil’s best performance against France at a competition was at the Tournoi de France in 1997: 1 x 1.

It was then when Roberto Carlos scored that legendary curvaceous free-kick.

1 x 1…

Brazil’s best result at a tournament since a win in 1958…

You tell me if the stakes aren’t high in tomorrow’s game.

Of course they are. This will be a massive confrontation. A grudge match to end all grudges. Ironically, it will be battled under a “friendly” pretense, but who cares?! Certainly not the players, and certainly not Brazil, who are dying for a victory against such a historical opponent.

I suspect we may even see one or two red cards. Mark my words…

However, it will be a fun match to watch. Do not expect magic, though. Nasri, Ribery, Ganso, Neymar and Ronaldinho are all out. The teams selected by Blanc and Mano are made primarly of brand new talents, such as Brazilians Renato Augusto and David Luiz, and Frenchmen Laurent Koscielny and Loic Remy. The flow and grace of the game will most likely be inconsistent and nervous, but it will be interesting and committed. Neither team will sit back and hold, and many young stars will put their hearts into this match in order to prove their place in the squad. Indeed, this will be compelling to watch.

But even if the game ends up sucking, at least we’ll be able to veg out by looking at the beautiful brand new kits both teams will premiere tomorrow…

It’s a win-win situation, ain’t it?!

RB

Brazil: new kit for a new era

France: adios Adidas!

MY PREDICTION: Brazil 2 x 1 France

BRAZIL POSSIBLE STARTING 11 = Julio César, Dani Alves, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, André Santos, Lucas, Elias, Hernanes, Renato Augusto, Robinho (C) and Pato.

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