Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Meet Lucas Lima, the heir to Santos' playmaking throne

The first pass is all about vision – that most nebulous of attributes that most players aspire to but very few attain. A quick look up in a busy midfield. A runner. A swish of the left boot. Centre-back and full-back sliced apart. Geuvânio scampers through to score the opener.


The second is different. A good pass, sure, but that’s not the main thing. Besides, it doesn’t even go down as an assist. No, the key here is the speed of thought. A free-kick. Everyone relaxes for a second. Some moan at the referee. Opportunity knocks. Ball on the floor, Eugenio Mena released. A simple cross later and Gabriel makes it 2-0. Job done.

He did not score and he did not make the headlines, but everyone who knew anything knew. One man and one man alone masterminded Santos’ 3-1 derby win over Palmeiras on Sunday: 24-year-old midfielder Lucas Lima.

Read the rest of this profile on the WhoScored website.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Eduardo da Silva proving in Brazil that his finishing powers remain undimmed

Whisper it quietly, but it is perhaps indicative of the global standing of the Campeonato Brasileiro that players can thrive there long after they hit the proverbial wall in Europe. A fading Ronaldinho? Amazing in Brazil. Kaká, years after his peak? Doing really well, thank you very much.


The trend is testament to the fact that quickness of thought can compensate for ageing legs, particularly in a league that struggles to produce cerebral, tactically-astute players. A little bit of nous gleaned from European football, allied with technical quality, is usually enough to allow a player to stand out in Brazil.

Most appear to enjoy being the big fish in a small pond. But the recent form of one man also shows that the Brasileirão can also be a fruitful hunting ground for those who tend to prefer the quiet life.

In my latest column for WhoScored, I look at the recent form of former Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva. Read it here.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Five players who could shape the battle against relegation in the Campeonato Brasileiro

Finally, after over a year of utter dominance, it looked as though Cruzeiro may have company at the top of the Campeonato Brasileiro table. The reigning champions were defeated 2-0 last weekend by São Paulo, who then proceeded to lose to relegation candidates Coritiba, moving back to seven points adrift going into the final three months of the season. However, without wishing to jinx anything before it materialises, we may still have a title race on our hands.


But while things are beginning to simmer at one end of the table, there’s a full-scale battle royale raging at the other. The scrap against relegation could hardly be more dramatic: while Flamengo appear to have done enough to stave off the threat, everyone from Figueirense down will be fighting to the death from here on in.

With margins so small, things really could be settled by a few hardy warriors. For WhoScored, I have picked out five players who could shape the relegation battle in Brazil.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Brazilian football's biggest courtroom dramas

Shameless plug alert, part two:
Available on a pay-what-you-want basis here. 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Meet the new guy, just like the old guy: Brazil's clubs hark back to the past in search of success

Shameless plug ahoy:
Buy it at your local newsagent or click here to order online.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Fantastic four begin to click for São Paulo

Of all the sides in the Campeonato Brasileiro, none contains more recognisable faces – to European football fans, at least – than São Paulo FC. There's Álvaro Pereira, the Uruguayan wing-back, on the left flank. Former Arsenal midfielder Denílson sits in front of the back four, sniffing out danger and, yes, playing five-yard sideways passes. Luís Fabiano plunders goals and collects red cards like they're going out of fashion. Then there's Rogério Ceni, the goalscoring goalkeeper, who is something of a cult figure in some circles.


Really, though, the team's true star power lies in an attacking quartet that has begun to light up the division in recent weeks. In Kaká, Paulo Henrique Ganso, Alan Kardec and Alexandre Pato, São Paulo could well have found their very own fantastic four, a combination capable of taking them into next season's Libertadores, if not a sustained title challenge (you win again, Cruzeiro).

Read the rest of this piece on the WhoScored website.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

New faces provide reason to be cheerful even in the wake of Brazil's managerial farce

Some clever bloke with a hip, east-London beard once said that history repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce. You don’t imagine that the corrupt old boys of Brazil’s football federation have much time for Marxist thinking. And yet, somehow, no group or individual in the game appears so committed to embodying that snappy, throw-away maxim.

These days, they don’t even wait for the pain to sink in before following it up with light relief. Just witness their choice in Brazil coach. Dunga was hounded out of the job after the disappointment of the 2010 World Cup, accused of being a tactical Luddite by a press corps for whom he could barely conceal his distaste.


But here we are, four years and two coaches later, back at square one. A bright new dawn was needed after the horror of The 7-1, yet Brazil have instead drifted back into the recent – and unsuccessful – past. Farcical barely even covers it.

Still, at least there was some good news in Dunga’s first squad selection. For a start, there was no Felipe Melo. Indeed, the former Internacional coach should be gently commended for drafting in five players who have impressed in the Campeonato Brasileiro in recent months – and who were overlooked by his predecessor.

Read the rest of this piece here.
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