Even without their two star names – Neymar and Lucas – Brazil won the under 20 World Cup in Colombia. They beat Portugal 3-2 after extra time in a lively final in which midfielder Oscar was the hero, scoring all three of Brazil’s goals. It’s the fifth time that Brazil have won the trophy.
I must confess that I didn’t see that many games but from what I did see, it seems like Brazil were worthy winners. The team’s coach Ney Franco has done an excellent job with the under 20s, winning the South American under 20 championships in Peru earlier this year. In this tournament, he showed his tactical acumen by making the right substitutions at the right time. Against Mexico in the semi-final, with the game tied at 0-0, he brought on Dudu, Negueba and Allan (for Willian José, Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Silva), reshuffling the positions of the players already on the field (Juan went to left back, Casemiro went to centre back and Danilo went from right back to centre midfield). Brazil’s play improved with Danilo giving the team more drive and it was substitute Negueba’s cross that set up Henrique’s goal in the 84th minute. In the final, he made the same three substitutions (two of them at half time) and they paid dividends once again with both Dudu and Negueba threatening from the wings.
Many of Brazil’s young players have now shot to fame on the global stage nobody more so than São Paulo forward Henrique . He was the star of the tournament and picked up the golden boot (with five goals) and best player awards. He currently earns R$ 9,000 (about 3,500 pounds) per month but no doubt that he won’t be earning that for long. Personally don’t think he is a new Ronaldo, Pelé, Neymar or anybody like that, just in case any readers are wondering and considering splashing out 50 million pounds for him in football management games.
Many of the player’s who won the tournament are being linked with moves overseas although Henrique isn’t one of them. His agent Giuliano Bertolucci said: “we think its better that he stays in Brazil and negotiates a new contract with São Paulo”. São Paulo are not too pleased. The player’s agent negotiating higher terms for Henrique (something he is right to do after his performance at the tournament) than the ones agree upon before the start of the tournament. But what really riles São Paulo is the fact that Bertolucci is also the agent for Oscar and took the club to court over unpaid employment benefits for his client just over a year ago. He won the case and the player left São Paulo for Internacional.
Danilo is another player whose value has shot up after the tournament. He will stay at Santos until the end of the year but has already agreed a multimillion pound transfer to Porto next year. His marauding performances at right back for the young seleção have also earned him a first call up to Mano Menezes senior side for the Ghana friendly. As well as excelling at right back, he switched from right back to centre midfield, in both the semi-final and final, and excelled there too.
Defensive mid Casemiro has been linked with Inter Milan and according to the local paper Estado de São Paulo Roma have now joined the race and are considering a bid of 20 million Euros for the São Paulo midfielder. A bit pricey if you ask me! Tottenham Hotspur (the team that specializes in taking interest signing excellent defensive midfielders) have also been linked in the past.
Ex-Santos left back Alex Sandro missed the tournament through injury and but has already signed for Porto. His replacement, Palmeiras’ Gabriel Silva, had a good tournament and is interesting Udinese according to Estado de São Paulo.
One player already in Italy (with Inter Milan) who hasn’t quite lived up to all the hype is Philippe Coutinho. He started most games as an attacking midfielder but was upstaged by fellow attacking mid Oscar. Overall not a bad tournament though for the ex-Vasco man.
Centre back Juan is quality although pretty dirty. Bruno Uvini is a good leader but a bit slow. Dudu (Cruzeiro) and Negueba (Flamengo) are the little and large attacking substitutes. Both quality. Defensive mid Fernando (Grêmio) and goalscoring final hero Oscar (Internacional) are both said to be interesting Lyon. And that’s all folks.
Follow this link for a full review of Brazil’s best young players.