Brazil play Iraq later today (19.30 UK, 15.30 Brazil) as Mano Menezes tries to avoid a personal crisis and relieve some of the pressure that is rapidly mounting for him to be sacked. He’ll be happy that the match is not in Brazil because in their last home game – a 2-1 win against Argentina in Goiânia in the Superclássico das Americas – he was widely booed by the home crowd who made it clear that they don’t want him anymore (and would prefer Big Phil Scolari). Had it not been for Neymar’s late winner, the boos would have been a lot louder.
For the friendly against Iraq and next Tuesday’s game against Japan, Mano has only called up one player from each Brazilian club. Reasonable decision by the coach who (through no fault of his own but rather that of the CBF who are responsible for the chaotic calendar) has already managed to wreak havoc on Brazil’s top teams so far this year with his call ups. According to calculations by Globoesporte, Internacional and São Paulo have been deprived of the services of their star players Leandro Damião and Lucas Moura 14 times (in 28 league games) so far this year. Neymar has missed 13 games for Santos while the likes of Botafogo (Jefferson, 5 times), Vasco (Dedé, 3) and Corinthians (Paulinho, 3) must also be a little pissed off. Can you imagine what Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger would say if that happened in England?
The Brazilian based players in this squad will miss game weeks 29 and 30. I’m not sure of the flying arrangement but they’ll also presumably miss match day 31 since that begins on Wednesday next week (the 17th) and the game with Japan is on the 16th in Poland! Sorry state of affairs really. Shocking. What do you think of the calendar in Brazil, international call-ups and the CBF?
As part of his plan to keep his job, Mano Menezes has turned to Kaká, who looks set to win his first cap since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Kaká had been called up once by Mano for the matches against Gabon and Egypt but had to withdraw from that one with injury. Brazil won both of those games, played quite well and Mano decided not to call him up again. Until now that is, even though he hardly ever plays for Real Madrid. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Next thing we’ll be getting another Ronaldinho recall (something I wouldn’t be against actually because I love Ronaldinho and he is playing some great stuff for Atlético at the moment).
In the midst of all this there is also a first call up for Leandro Castán (Corinthians’ Libertadores winning centre back who seems to have settled in pretty well at his new club Roma).
Judging by yesterday’s training session the likely starting line-up today will be: Diego Alves; Adriano, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo; Paulinho, Ramires, Oscar, Kaká; Hulk and Neymar.
If this is the case then what was the point in dragging Dedé and Lucas all the way out there? Honestly…
Jefferson (Botafogo), Diego Alves (Valencia), Victor (Atletico Mineiro)
Marcelo (Real Madrid), Adriano (Barcelona), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), David Luiz (Chelsea), Dede (Vasco da Gama), Leandro Castan (AS Roma)
Sandro (Tottenham), Lucas (Sao Paulo), Fernando (Gremio), Ramires (Chelsea), Oscar (Chelsea), Paulinho (Corinthians), Giuliano (Dnipro), Thiago Neves (Fluminense), Kaka (Real Madrid)
Leandro Damiao (Internacional), Neymar (Santos), Hulk (Zenit)