Scouting Report: Meet Brazil's Future
U.S. Men's National Team assistant Curt Onalfo breaks down Brazil's 4-2-2-2 lineup and some relatively unknown players that will take the field vs. the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2003 Gold Cup.
July 23, 2003
Tonight will be an excellent night for soccer fans. Not only is this an outstanding matchup, but you will get a glimpse of the future of Brazilian soccer.
Brazil play has improved each game in this tournament. They played very well against Mexico, creating several scoring opportunities and should have at least walked a way with a point. They played an outstanding first half of soccer in their second match against Honduras, before the effects of two games in three days in altitude began to wear them down. In the quarterfinal, they out-classed Colombia in all aspects of the game.
Brazil comes out in their traditional 4-2-2-2 formation. In this system, they have two holding midfielders, which means their two attacking midfielders and two forwards have a tremendous amount of freedom to go forward. With that support behind them, the attacking group can be adventurous and extremely creative, which is both exciting to watch and difficult to defend. Complicating the situation for a defense is the ability of their wing defenders to get forward.
With this system, the midfielders' starting positions are central on the field, so we believe the best way to attack Brazil when we have possession is to come at them down the flanks. If we can quickly switch the point of attack at times, we will be able to unbalance their defense and put them under a lot of pressure.
We also know that teams that commit numbers forward are susceptible to the counter, which is one of the strengths of our team. As a result, we will need to play forward quickly upon gaining possession and have early options available to our defenders and midfielders.
As usual, Brazil presents some tremendously gifted attackers, and it will be great challenge for our defenders to contain them. Their number 11, Robinho, is left-footed, crazy quick, and loves to take on defenders. He is a constant threat, having a tendency to drift out to the left side. Diego, who serves as their playmaker, thrives with the ball at his feet, and can be unpredictable in his decisions to either distribute the ball or dribble at defenders. When he chooses to pass, he tends to deliver penetrating balls that put his attackers in great positions to score. He has a nose for the goal, always seeming to be in the right spot for rebounds or getting quick chances in the box. Kaka, their other attacking midfielder, relies more on sheer power and strength. He can strike from anywhere on the field, as evidenced by his two goals against Honduras.
In the back, their central defenders, Luisao and Alex, have a tendency to drop off, creating large holes for our forwards to check into and receive passes. Although their goalkeeper Gomes hasn't been tested tremendously in this tournament, we can see that he's a bit unsteady with his hands, and isn't confident with the ball at his feet. We're going to try and put their entire defensive group under pressure as often as possible.
We anticipate a fun atmosphere at the Orange Bowl tonight. The conditions have been warm and humid around game time, but nothing that should prohibit an energetic performance. No matter who puts on the yellow jersey, it's always a great measuring stick when you go up against Brazil. We go into tonight's match confident that we can be successful and continue our quest to get to the Estadio Azteca on Sunday.