The world over, Brazil have a tradition of skillful, flair filled play that is the envy of nations everywhere. Traditions are not always upheld, though, and that’s the position Brazil are in at this moment. The Selecao currently just do not have the level of talent to play as openly and with the patented samba flair that they have been so known for throughout history.
This World Cup has pretty much exposed that, and playing the way they have done in this tournament, this Brazil team never had a legitimate shot to hoist the illustrious World Cup trophy. The Brazil boss, Luis Felipe Scolari, got his team setup completely wrong with his approach to this tournament, as the foundation of the team was flawed and the pieces on top were equally as brittle. The team looked like it was stuck between needing to defend as a unit and needing to attack with the flair they’re known for. In the end, they did neither.
For the most part, Brazil set up in a 4-2-3-1 but did not have the necessary players to play such an open formation. It’s a formation which puts a lot of emphasis on the two holding midfield players and the four-man defense — two areas which abysmally failed the test against Germany. The wide players of Hulk and Neymar (before his injury) are not the type of players to do a whole lot of defensive work, but it was those gaps which opposition teams exploited so well.
If you’re going to carry certain players on the defensive end then: a) they must deliver offensively, and b) you need to account for their lack of effort on the defensive end. Only Neymar can claim to have held up his end of that particular bargain. Without the whole team defending in unison, the ones who were defending collapsed under the workload they had. They needed help, and they needed to play as a team.
Hulk is not good enough to carry; he’s too hot and cold, and he is a liability for the team. His defensive awareness and willingness to work were so inept against Germany that a center-back, out of position playing left-back, looked like one of the world’s better raiding fullbacks. Another player the team carried was Fred, who never really contributed anything meaningful in any game other than a tap-in goal against Cameroon.
Brazil are just not good enough to be carrying these players. While they relaxed on the halfway line, awaiting possession, Germany were tearing the defense limb from limb. They weren’t the first team, either, to enjoy playing Brazil at this year’s World Cup; every team they played got some kind of joy when attacking the Brazilian defense. Scolari needed to change it way before the Germany game arrived.
He needed players with more work rate and defensive awareness to give the team a solid foundation and structure to build on. It may not be what the adoring Brazilian fans want to watch and it may not fit in with the vision and traditions of the nation, but ultimately, that’s where the team is. As it turned out, the foundations used were fragile and weak, and when put under some serious pressure, the house came crumbling down.