Sambafoot Sunday: Seleção Stereotypes & Chelsea's Brazilian Blueprint
Sambafoot Sunday by James Nalton. The beat goes on...
The English Premier League has seen an influx of Brazilians in recent times. Managers in years gone by may have been put off by Brazilian stereotypes of individual skill over team work ethics, but a string of players have arrived on these shores to expose the myth.
From Juninho Paulista to Lucas Leiva, Brazilian players have eradicated these preconceived ideas, and endeared themselves to English fans with their combination of teamwork, guile, and technical ability.
One team in particular have had great success and considerable output from their Brazilian signings, and after testing the water with the likes of Emerson Thome, Alex, and then Belletti, Chelsea now have a whole host of Brazilian internationals on their books.
José Mourinho is a manager who has little time for luxury signings, as shown by the discarding of the immensely talented but less dynamic Juan Mata, and the group of Brazilian players in his squad serve to dispel any remnants of a false Brazilian stereotype. New signing for the 2013/14 season, Willian, has emerged as a key part of Mourinho’s hard working side, with his pace on the counter attack and intense harrying of the opposition forcing him into the Portuguese manager’s first XI.
Oscar is another midfielder to emerge as a key player in the Chelsea set up, and after a gradual introduction to the side in the 2012/13 season under previous manager Rafa Benitez, he’s now becoming as vital to Chelsea as he is to Brazil. Oscar is a case in point when it comes to eroding the myth of Brazilian luxury players, and during his time in England he’s proven wrong those who thought he might be too lightweight for the cut and thrust of the English league.
There’s no doubting the strengths of Chelsea’s number seven, Ramires. A subtle dink over Victor Valdes in their 2-2 draw away at Barcelona saw his side into the Champions League final of 2011/12, which they went on to win, but Ramires’ game is much more about hard work and running than it is about this type of skill.
Surprisingly, defender David Luiz is the player at Chelsea who most fits the old Brazilian stereotype. He has a tendency to wander from his centre back position, and also has a habit of switching off when undertaking his defensive duties, but despite this he played an important role in midfield during Chelsea’s recent league victory away at a formidable Manchester City side.
It’s here where the similarities between Chelsea and the Brazil national team become apparent. When you watch Chelsea’s Brazilians, you begin to see how their set-up might transfer across to The Seleção, and despite the philosophies of the two managers differing slightly, the formation and use of personnel is almost identical.
Replace Eden Hazard with Neymar and Samuel Eto’o with Fred, and Chelsea begin to look very similar to Brazil’s Confederations Cup winning side. A combination of individual talent and tactical nous, the Brazil team which beat the stars of Spain in that final, were set up in a similar manner to the Chelsea side which went to Manchester City and won.
In the past both sides may have parked the proverbial bus against an opposing team of stars, but in these two examples Brazil and Chelsea took the initiative and were the driving forces in these games, both in and out of possession.
Here’s a look at how Brazil could line-up in relation to Chelsea. This takes into account the two games mentioned above, and how a Scolari Brazil side could replicate Morinho's Chelsea set up. The numbers used represent the positions on the pitch using a Brazilian numbering system, rather than the players actual squad numbers.