Jose Barreto is a thinking footballer who has always been very measured in his reaction on and off the pitch. It was expected of him to take the blow on the chin and try to put things in perspective after Brazil’s biggest-ever football humiliation.
“I’m a footballer and know that the game can be cruel at times. We conceded seven goals in a World Cup semi-final because we didn’t have any defensive organisation. Germany were far superior in every department,” he told this correspondent following the rout.
Barreto is a Brazilian footballer who came to Kolkata and became a Mohun Bagan legend. He was a product of the famous Gremio youth academy where he had Brazil’s World Cup-winner Lucio as a companion.
Barreto was not talented enough to play for his country and plied his trade in a nondescript football nation like India. But that’s not important here. He was part of the Brazilian football mainstream long enough to know how things work at home and what needs to be done for improvement.
Barreto says Brazil have fallen behind. “The European giants have moved way ahead of us technically and tactically, and to bridge the gap, we must bring in a top coach from that continent. Someone like Jurgen Klinsmann would be an ideal choice.”
Traditionalists, who often swear by jogo bonito (Brazil’s beautiful game), might consider this blasphemous. A European coach for the five-time world champions! But this World Cup clearly highlighted Brazil’s shortcomings. They’ve to remould.
Brazil have already changed a lot. From Sebastiao Lazaroni to Luiz Felipe Scolari, European professionalism—cynicism, according to some emotional die-hards—has been consciously brought into Brazilian football over the past two decades. It was the need of the hour because the game has changed. You no longer get free spaces on the pitch that Pele, Garrincha, Rivelino, Jairzinho, Tostao and later Zico, Socrates, Romario and Bebeto and even Ronaldo and Ronaldinho used to enjoy. And football is getting tighter by the day. The average distance covered by every team in every game in this World Cup is more than 10 km. The team average is higher in a tougher tournament like the Champions League. So Brazil have to change further despite the fact that they’ve won the World Cup twice in the last 20 years.
Lack of match-winners is also a problem. Neymar apart, Brazil simply don’t have players to get out of the maze through individual brilliance. They have