During the last 4 football World Cups, we have seen how the European nations had dominated the world stage.
From the 2006 Italy to the 2018 winner France, European football has overcome south American one by a great margin and despite every single champion nation had a completely different playing style, their processes were far ahead of the South American ones.
The Europeans had achieved such a difference that they made the last 2018 World Cup looked as and European championship. The 4 semifinalists of the tournament were Europeans, also from the 8 teams that reached the ¼ finals, 6 were European nations.
Even when South America has a lower amount of nations in comparison to Europe, they always have high expectations and wait that at least one of their representatives reaches the semifinals. Yes, normally Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay are indeed the countries which expect to have great performances but we have to remember as well that this had been the only nations capable of taking away the world throne from Europe and in a sort of way the only ones that every World Cup save us from European hegemony.
But, ¿What is happening with south American football lately?
The sensation is that football from the region is under a great reconstruction stage. A stage in which every national team is seeking for a new playstyle with new faces as part of the process.
Throughout this series of posts named Football in construction, we will analyze why is it that south American football is outdated, and what is it that every national team is doing either to catch up or get behind European football.
Let´s start then with the analysis of which is probably the most consolidated team, Brazil.
If we talk about Brazil, we must remember that it was a team that in the middle of 2016 was in one of their worst football crisis. The 7 – 1 against Germany in the 2014 World Cup and the unexpected group stage elimination in the 2016 Copa America, ended up in Dunga’s dismissal which also left Brazil in the 6th place for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
It was in that moment that Tite, current Brazil coach, took the reins of a team in crisis and in less than a couple of years he turned it into the most solid team in South America and one of the great favorites for Rusia 2018 World Cup.
We could say that even though this Brazil fail to reach the last World Cup semifinals, it is the closest national team to challenge the Europeans, not only because the statistics support it (23 official games / 18 victories / 4 draws / 1 defeat) but also because it is probably the first team of the continent that changed its historic play style to modernize their self’s just as the Europeans had been doing.
With Tite, Brazil had left aside the world-famous known “Jogo bonito” and even if for the Brazilian fans it is difficult to stop seeing their team playing that way, they cannot complain about the offensive and defensive forcefulness which the canarinha has gained with Tite.
With the tactic order as the mainstay of this new Brazil, Tite successfully created a dynamic, vertical team that is also capable of asphyxiating their opponents on their half of the field very similar to Klopp’s Liverpool.
On the other hand, for Brazil it has not only been fundamental to identify with their new playing style but also another key point is that they had been one of the few national teams that had kept their manager for a long time in South America.
And even when what was mentioned before doesn’t seem relevant, it has been this despair of sacking managers the reason behind the lack of identity for other nations in the region.
The only official match that Brazil lost with Tite in charge was precisely those 2018 World Cup ¼ finals against Belgium. Despite being a huge disappointment for the verdeamarelha, the truth is that Brazil was superior that day and if not for an inspire Courtois the reds devils would have been eliminated that afternoon.
At the moment, Brazil seems to be the example to follow. If South American football wants to be back at the top of the world, it should keep evolving its playing style just as the Europeans had been doing it and at the same time disregard their historic styles just like Brazil is doing it with the jogo bonito. Of course, the jogo bonito will never stop being present in Brazilian football, nevertheless and even when it is important to remember the roots, improvement only comes with innovation.
As well as people renew their self’s day by day without forgetting where they come from and where do they want to go, in football´s world happens the same with teams that want to become successful.
In the next post, we will talk about the longest process in south American football, Oscar Washington Tabarez Uruguay’s.