To be very honest, Brazil’s defeat did not surprise me. From the very beginning, I found the team rigid, overly physical and lacking in authentic creativity. It tells you something abut the Brazilian team that everybody’s been gushing about Lucio and Juan and the rest of Dunga`s defensive set-up. All of a sudden, it was wonderful that both central defenders weren’t “shy about advancing of the field”, as my very esteemed colleague Aleksandar Hemon put it. Well, yes. It’s always nice to see defenders willing to attack. But that, I’m afraid, just ain’t enough, specially when facing a team like Holland. The Dutch knew that the way to keep Brazil at bay was covering the field horizontally on defense and play vertically on offense. And it worked, even if Brazil’s first goal came about precisely because of the evident Dutch worries with Maicon and Bastos. But then Holland’s beautiful midfield took charge and reminded Brazil what can be done with esthetics rather than that wretched “physicality”. Sneijder was far more “Kaka” than Kaka. The same could be said about Robinho and Robben. In the end, the better team won. And, if you excuse the worn-out phrase, football won as well. By the referee’s final whistle, Brazil had turned into a team of pugilists and crybabies; gone were the smiles long associated with their once precious and carefree style of football. It’s sad, really: Brazil insists on betraying its historical virtues. It better rethink its strategy: there has to be a middle ground between this Dunga team and the beautiful but unproductive Brazil of Zico and Socrates. Brazil has to find it soon or 2014 could turn into another edition of 1950.
Leon Krauze, a Mexican journalist and writer, anchors Univision’s evening newscasts in Los Angeles, hosts Open Source on Fusion, and is the former official historian for the Mexican national team.