Your favourite Brazilian football correspondent took a firsthand check on the boys from the Vila today to see if they are really all that. On first impressions, the answer is yes, especially Ganso, the goose. But, relax, neither one is anywhere near the finished article and I think they would both be better off staying in Brazil for at least another year.
A trip down the mountain into sunny seaside Santos is a great way to spend a Sunday if you live in SÃ£o Paulo. Fresh fish, a dip in the sea, kick about on the beach and a trip to Santos FC. What a good day. Middle of winter and the sun was out too.
After stuffing our faces with fish, Swiss International Daniel cracked his toenail open whilst playing football on the beach. There were no cabs in sight so we ended up having to walk to the stadium a few kilometres away. The only trouble is that we were running late and Daniel with a cracked toe was limping. In the end, we arrived two minutes before kickoff and fortunately there wasnâ€™t any queue.
Our seats were a shocker. I like that stadium: its small, youâ€™re close to the pitch and itâ€™s got an English style about it. But, they have put seats where there shouldn’t be seats and there was a stand about 1 meter above my head (when seated). That meant every time Santos got close to scoring a goal everybody in front stood up and us at the back saw nothing. Lots of shouting SIT DOWN ensued for the 90 minutes.
SÃ£o Paulo sent a complete reserve team, resting their stars for this weeks Libertadores Cup semi final against Internacional from Porto Alegre. Santos, on the other hand, rested 6 starters (Robinho being one of them) but fortunately both Neymar and Ganso were named in the starting line up.
Neymar has been subject of a multi million pound bid from Chelsea recently. I sincerely hope he doesnâ€™t go, at least not this year. The lad is still only 18 and has only been in the first team for about six months. Surely staying at Santos for another year would make sense: he would start every game, have the chance of winning more trophies and becoming a Santos legend. The lad needs to mature too and would face a culture shock if he went to Chelsea. He wouldnâ€™t get in the team there straight away and would get lumps kicked out of him in English football. Fortunately, Santos have rejected Chelseaâ€™s 20 million Euros bid. The signs look ominous though.
Santos have lost their last three games and the Chelsea issue seems to be weighing on Neymarâ€™s young mind. Today he should have scored, showed some good touches and dribbles but didnâ€™t seem to be at his best. Ganso meanwhile, has been suffering with an injury and is lacking game time. You could see the ladâ€™s class though. Heâ€™s not a dribbler and he doesnâ€™t beat anybody for pace but his passing, vision and control are really excellent. He creates space for himself before he even gets the ball. Then it comes, one touch, its under control and heâ€™s ready to ping a pass to a teammate. It looks easy and he’s got a very different style to most Brazilian craques (stars). As the game went on he got better and better and it was a shame it had to end. Santos fans say that if Neymar is worth 20m Euros then Ganso is worth double that! He really is their star.
The rest of the Santos midfield was poor. Three lads running around without much of a clue what they were doing. That obviously didnâ€™t make life easier for the Ganso. My only criticism though was that there was no urgency about his game, especially in the first half. Too often he went sideways instead of forward.
Inevitably, thereâ€™s talk about him going overseas too. In Europe he would be shocked with the pace of the game, especially the Premier League. Heâ€™s a little bit older than Neymar and been in the team for a little longer (one year vs. six months) but I still think heâ€™d be better off staying at Santos for a while yet. I would also put both of those lads in the gym too. And I really hope they both stay because I want to go back down to Santos for some more classic Sundayâ€™s.
As for the game, Santos won 1-0 with an own-goal that came from a free kick in the second half. The lad who won the free-kick really gets 10 out of 10 for the acting. He was clearly fouled but just in case he wasnâ€™t going to get it, he dived and then clutched his face three seconds later for dramatic effect. Not sure what the ref though of all that but it was clearly a foul and he won the free kick. After the goal, a body-builder wearing a g-string came running on the field wearing just that waving a t-shirt. Lots of fun. Santos fans started chanting that he was a SÃ£o Paulino (SÃ£o Paulo fan). SÃ£o Paulo is widely known as the gay team in SÃ£o Paulo and even has one gay player.
Just found out, PelÃ© was at the game too. Wooohooo!!!
See the silky skills of Ganso and Neymar at the link. Shame about the finish though.