Thursday, 19 January 2017

Brazil's 2002 World Cup winners: Where are they now?

The three Rs, Cafu, Roberto Carlos... Brazil's squad for the 2002 World Cup was certainly not lacking in star power or quality. Under Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Seleção made amends for the disappointment of 1998 by taking their fifth title, seeing off Germany in the final.

You'll know what happened to quite a few of the players in the years following that success. But which member of the squad appeared in a reality show? Who is still playing in India? And who has a zoo animal named in his honour?

I've taken a look at the 2002 heroes for the latest instalment in FourFourTwo's Where are they Now? series.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Porto Alegre giants Internacional facing up to life in the second flight after year to forget on and off the pitch

2006 was a high watermark in the history of Sport Club Internacional. The side from Porto Alegre won the Copa Libertadores for the first time and, just before Christmas, came to global attention by beating Barcelona in the final of the Club World Cup.

Under normal circumstances, the tenth anniversary of that golden year would have prompted a fresh wave of celebration; Brazilian clubs rarely need an excuse to hark back to past glories, after all.

But few fans had much time for the commemorative medals and sticker books that hit the market in 2016, for Inter endured an annus horribilis both on and off the pitch.

You can read about their plight in the February edition of When Saturday Comes magazine, which is available in newsagents and on their website.

Monday, 16 January 2017

The new Rivellino, the ultimate utility man, 'Jorge Alba' and more Brazilians YOUR club should be trying to sign

After a five-month wait, Gabriel Jesus could make his debut for Manchester City this weekend.

The Brazilian, who joined the Blues in a £27million deal before being loaned back to Palmeiras, is hoping to be in Pep Guardiola's squad for the visit of Tottenham.

Of course, England has not always been a fruitful stomping ground for Brazilian players. For every Juninho, there has been an Afonso Alves; for every Gilberto Silva, a Paulinho. Yet the success stories are becoming more and more frequent: Willian, David Luiz, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Fernandinho have all thrived in the last few seasons.

Those players, admittedly, did not come directly from Brazil, but via other European clubs. But if Gabriel Jesus can settle and live up to his colossal potential, other clubs will be tempted to dip into the Brazilian market in search of rough diamonds.

I picked out five that should be your club's radar, for Mirror Football.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Brasileirão 2016 end-of-season awards

The delayed final round of the Brazilian season was a touching, tearful affair. Up and down the country, tributes were paid to the victims of the tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of 19 Chapecoense players, plus other club employees and members of the press, in Colombia last month.

Most teams wore special kits bearing Chape's logo; some even broke with tradition and wore green for the occasion. In every stadium, the stands were full of flags and banners showing support for the stricken Santa Catarina club.

It was a heartening display of solidarity and understandably overshadowed events on the pitch. In the longer term, 2016 will always be remembered as Chapecoense's year.

It feels slightly vulgar to dish out awards in the wake of such events, but that's what I've done for WhoScored, choosing my player of the year, breakout star and so on. 

Friday, 25 November 2016

Inter the abyss: Struggling Internacional in need of a miracle as first ever relegation beckons

It wasn't meant to be this way for Internacional. Their opening eight matches of the Brasileirão season yielded 19 points – enough to take them to head of the table, three points clear of the chasing pack. A good season looked in prospect.

Since then, however... well, you could only really call it a disaster. Inter went on a 14-game winless run, sacked three managers and, with two seasons of the season remaining, find themselves in the relegation zone.

They have never been relegated from Brazil's top flight, but the Colorado now need a miracle – or a couple of them – if they're to avoid demotion on the weeks ahead. Read about their situation in my latest for WhoScored.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Job security? You've come to the wrong place! Why Brazil's sacking culture is holding coaches back

Levir Culpi wasn't going to go quietly. The coach, axed by Brazilian giants Fluminense, had a few things he wanted to get off his chest first.

"I'm pissed off," he wrote in an open letter to the club. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to be part of Fluminense's history. To work for nine months at a club famous for being the best in the world at sacking coaches is no mean feat."

His ire was understandable. True, Flu had gone six games without a win – a run marked by some fairly miserable football. But Levir had brought stability to a club rocked by behind-the-scenes turmoil and the sale of star player Fred, even guiding the Tricolor to glory in the inaugural edition of the Primeira Liga.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is all too common in Brazil. While Levir's claim that Flu are the worst offenders is up for debate, there can be little doubt that Brazilian clubs on the whole are world-class sackers of football managers.

Read my latest for FourFourTwo here.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Back to the scene of the crime: Brazil return to the Mineirão looking to exorcise ghosts of Germany thrashing

Even two years on, the memories remain fresh. It was a harrowing, indelible night, one that continues to be spoken about with a vague sense of disbelief. There are defeats and then there are defeats, and Brazil's World Cup capitulation at the hands of Germany – 'the 7-1', as it has come to be known – will forever merit the italics.

On Thursday, the Seleção return to the scene of the criminal defending for the first time, looking to exorcise some of the demons that have taken up residence at the Mineirão. Brazil vs Argentina: it's a match that doesn't really need subplots, but by God, we've got one.

Read my match preview for WhoScored here.