Saturday, July 03, 2010

Everybody loves Brazil

For the gorgeous women who proliferate on the beaches there.....

Though lady friends tell me their chaps are quite dishy too. Some of them, anyway. Kaka's a handsome lad, right enough, but he looks about fourteen, doesn't he?

But most of all, we love Brazil because they play the best football - joga bonita, 'the beautiful game'. With the one bizarre aberration of 1974, Brazil have been clearly the best team - or one of the two or three best teams - in every single World Cup since the 1950s. A few may carp that it gets boring, always having this expectation that Brazil are going to be favourites, likely winners. I don't see how you can get bored with excellence. Brazil play football like no other country; they produce more prodigiously gifted players than any other country; and they do it consistently. And they play in a free-flowing, often exuberant attacking style: they are a joy to watch.

Alas, the downside of being perpetually the best team in the world is the weight of expectation this imposes on the Brazilian players - and the gloomy foreboding that, more often than not, unlucky disappointment is going to be their lot, rather than deserved success. Brazil have won 5 World Cups, yes, more than anyone else. But that's only 5 wins out of 16 tournaments since the Second World War, and they were pretty much the best team in every single one. It only takes one particularly inspired performance by an opponent (or an unpunished excess of agression from one), or one piece of ill luck to tip a game against you..... and suddenly you're out.

And so it was last night. It was a superb performance from the Dutch, much the best we've seen from them this year; but Brazil were still the better team. If you played that game in 10 closely parallel universes, I doubt if the Dutch would win it more than once or twice. But in our world, they did - and the lovely Brazilians are out. The current side may not be quite as awesome as the Pelé/Jairzinho/Tostao or the Socrates/Falcao/Zico or the Rivaldo/Ronaldo/Ronaldinho teams, but they're pretty damned good - and it would have been nice to see them in the final again this year.

I am very, very SAD about this result. (And not just because I failed to predict it!)

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