New Delhi: Brazilian football legend Pele once said, "Every kid around the world who plays soccer wants to be Pele. I have a great responsibility to show them not just how to be like a soccer player, but how to be like a man."
Brazil football team, the name resonates the sounds of a rhythmic roar in a huge stadium, reminds the astonishing goals, the beautiful passes, and in total, a class apart in world football; a combination of pride, glory and honour for the countrymen and lots of joy for the supporters and fans all over the world.
This team has produced some legendary footballers of all time, Pele being the greatest and the most prominent among them. And in the last few decades, they have had great players like Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Carlos, Cafu. But gone are the days when these great players played together - the team which had players like Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Carlos, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Lucio and a few others playing under the captaincy of Cafu. Those were the days when these football giants put together a team which was unbeatable by almost none other in world football.
Brazil is the team that won the FIFA World Cup more than any other team in the world. One still remembers the class that this footballing nation showed in the 2002 FIFA World Cup - the powerful, flat kicks and beautiful long passes by Roberto Carlos, the unbelievably measured and dangerous free kicks by Ronaldinho clubbed with his classy tackles, the unfailing penalties by Rivaldo and the goals scored by Ronaldo which showed sheer class and brought the glory to the country.
But all of this is history now. The current Brazilian football team doesn't look "classy" anymore. It is quite evident from the way they have performed in the last two World Cups, and of course, the recent form they have shown on the field.
Looking at the way Brazil have been playing lately, one wonders what happened with the team as a whole in spite of having some of its experienced players still providing enough support on and off the field, both with their skills and experience. If we take a closer look, we see that Brazil still have the names that recall skill, form and stardom - in short, they have sheer expertise in terms of every part of a football game.
In the form of Julio Cesar and Gomes, they have probably the best possible persons to keep the last line of defense; the experienced Lucio holds the lead role in defense along with long-time teammate and a recent comeback maker Maicon, and not to forget, the goals provided by the skilfull passes of Robinho which are taken to the goal by the sublime Kaka.
Besides these knights who have acted as the strong pillars of support for the Brazilian team for quite a while now, the young blood have also shown some heroics on the field. Thiago Silva and Barca star Dani Alves are being considered to keep the defense strong enough; Lucas Silva and Ramires are good enough on the midfield, and going forward towards the opposition goal-line, Neymar and Pato look like rising stars of the nation.
So, having a fine balance of both experience, skills and useful youngsters in all the three of defense, offense and midfield, Brazil look good enough to take on any other rival nation with the same level of brilliance that they have been always known for. But things are not going the way as expected - their performances are no more making the fans feel special and proud about this legendary football playing nation any more. Their recent exit from Copa America reassures that. Their statistics in the tournament this year was shocking and unexpected - they have won just 1 out of 4 games and drawn 3, including the one against Paraguay in the quarter-finals to face exit.
But there's a catch - Brazilian footballers are performing fairly and sometimes, even, living up beyond their expectations in club football - be it Neymar or Dani Alves. This pops up the question in one's mind - are Brazilian football stars being drawn towards the same kind of babel and doubts as Messi is surrounded with? Is it really the club over country holding more importance for footballers now? Or is it simply a passing phase for an all-time great footballing nation? Well only time can give an appropriate answer to that.