Sambafoot Sunday: Searching for the Brasileirão stars of 2013
The 2013 Brazilian Série A campaign has been an exciting one, but on the face of it this has been down to the teams involved and some surprise packages at the top of the table, rather than any individual stars. The search for the best individuals in this season’s Brazilian league begins here...
It’s one of the draws of Brazilian football that you get the opportunity to see stars such as Neymar, Bernard, Paulinho, and Oscar, in their formative years. The league is a breeding ground for the much coveted and much talked about stars of the future, and not a month passes by without a list being drawn up on some website, documenting the next big things.
The 2013 season has been slightly different in that there hasn’t really been one particular stand out player, whether they be of the new breed or part of the growing old guard who’ve returned to Série A.
The start of the season definitely belonged to the old stagers, as pointed out in this article on the subject by Fernando Duarte. The likes of Clarence Seedorf, Alex de Souza, Ronaldinho, and Juninho Pernambucano were lighting up the league with a taste of what they still have to offer as footballers in the twilight of their careers, but whether the heavy league schedule took its toll or these players just became overly comfortable playing in the division, their performances have tailed off as the season progressed.
A case for the defence
A couple of central defenders of whom much was expected this season, Dedé of Cruzeiro and Dória of Botafogo, have had fairly inconsistent campaigns, but as the season reaches its latter stages both players will feel they’ve done enough to further enhance their reputation.
Still only 18-years-old, Dória has been one of the stand-out performers in a Botafogo side which started the season so well, but collapsed as the hectic final run in approached. They were knocked off the top of the table by Cruzeiro, and now they’re struggling to stay in the top four.
Dória’s form has dipped with that if his team, but he’s still putting in performances which belie his years. There’s no doubt that he’ll be interesting some of the top teams in Europe come January.
Dedé on the other hand has had the reverse season to Dória. He struggled for consistency in the early rounds after moving to Cruzeiro from Vasco da Gama. However, as the season has progressed and Cruzeiro began their ascent to the top of the table, Dedé’s performances in the centre of defence have become more like what was expected of him.
The result of these impressive displays saw him called up for Brazil this month when he scored his first international goal, and his side are comfortably atop the Série A table and likely to be crowned champions for 2013.
Several laterals have caught the eye this season as is often the case in Brazil, but maybe none more so than Grêmio's Alex Telles. His side have found themselves in the top four after a fairly workmanlike season, and they boast the second best defence in the league. Telles also has three assists and one goal to his name.
Plenty of other defenders and defensive midfielders have made steady progress in the league this season, with Cruzeiro midfielders Lucas Silva and Nílton standing out as a pair. Gabriel of Botafogo also looks to have some potential, but the rest can be saved for the team of the season discussion in a few weeks time.
On the attack
If you’re looking for a stand-out attacker from the 2013 season, it’s difficult to look past Walter of Goiás. The striker of ample physique has stood out in more ways than one, netting 12 goals in 27 games for the newly promoted side who have been one of this season’s surprise packages. He’s also bagged 6 assists, and there are even calls for him to be included as some kind of secret weapon in Scolari’s Brazil squad.
Other mentions should go to Éderson of Atlético Paranaense, Gilberto of Portuguesa, William of Ponte Preta, and Bahia’s Fernandão. They may not be the much sought after wonderkids of Brazil, or play for the most fashionable sides in the league, but they’re all battling it out at the top of the Brazilian goal scoring charts.
Flamengo’s Hernane has also been on a run of impressive goal-scoring form, and whilst he may play for a more fashionable Rio de Janeiro based side, you’re unlikely to hear much about the 27-year-old beyond the confines of dedicated Brasileirão coverage.
Making things happen
Brazil always seems to have an array of talent in the attacking midfield positions, but many of these have been plucked from the league by teams in Europe during the past year or two. That’s not to say that this season hasn’t had its fair share of creative schemers and tricky dribblers who make things happen for their team.
The much hyped Ganso has experienced something of a revival of late after a several months in the wilderness at São Paulo. He’s back to troubling the statistician’s computers with assists and goals, and São Paulo’s recent run of form has seen them escape a relegation fight which was unimaginable at the start of the season.
Everton Ribeiro has been one of the stand-out attacking players for the champions-elect, putting in consistent performances for Cruzeiro throughout the campaign. His 6 goals and 8 assists have been a major factor in his team’s success, and he is considered by many to be one of the stand-out players in the league this season.
Fred’s premature exit at Internacional left the attacking midfield areas open for others to shine, after the 20-year-old was poached by Brazilian hoarders Shakhtar Donetsk. Andrés D'Alessandro has impressed throughout the season, with a return on 10 goals and 8 assists in the league. Youngster Otávio has also chipped in with 5 goals and 2 assists, and the 18-year-old has set a solid foundation for future seasons where he could become a focal point in the Inter attack.
Another player who left the league before his career in Brazil had barely begun was Vitinho of Botafogo. CSKA Moscow saw the potential in the young wide forward and took a gamble on a relatively low release fee, especially when you consider the hefty price Shakhtar paid to Atlético Mineiro for Bernard. Had he stuck around at Botafogo, Vitinho may have been the player of the season, and he may have helped prevent Botafogo’s late season collapse.
These are just some of the names to consider when looking at the individual talents in the 2013 Brasileirão, but there are many more. Once the season ends Sambafoot Sunday will look at compiling a team of the season from Série A, but until then you can leave your own suggestions in the comments below, or via @JDNalton or @Sambafoot_en on Twitter.