Earlier this summer, the soccer world was treated to the Euro 2012 tournament. Spain launched themselves into a stratosphere that no other nation in Europe has ever reached — a Euro Championship sandwich. What was the meat of that sandwich? A World Cup trophy, of course (note: Brazil did win the Copa America in 2004 and 2007 after winning the World Cup in 2002, a very impressive feat in itself).
Spain's emphatic 4-0 win over Italy was the exclamation point on an unbelievable six years of international soccer dominance. Their "golden generation" is now getting older, they still have a core of young players; however, an aging midfield might be the reason the Spanish Empire crumbles.
The 2012 Olympics could possibly be giving us a glimpse of the next team to sit on the throne of greatness: Brazil. The Brazilian team at this Olympics has been the cream that is slowly rising to the top. They play Mexico in the Gold Medal Match on Saturday morning, a moment that could be the turning point in international soccer for the next two World Cups.
The Brazilian team is not short on talent, even with the roster restrictions (only three players older than 23 are allowed on each team). They have a potent offense, scoring three goals in each of their games. No one can criticize them for being boring, as they also allow goals. Their back-up goalie, Gabriel, has proven rather nervous and unreliable following an injury to starter Raphael. All of this has made them entertaining to watch.
This squad includes Neymar, a 20-year-old phenom who plays for Pele's former Brazilian club, Santos. He has garnered comparisons to Messi, a diminutive trickster with a nose for the goal. His trademark high socks, pulled beyond his knees, is accompanied by a ridiculous hair cut and a breathe-right strip across his nose, which has not been cool since, um, well breathe right strips have never been cool. I can say that with authority, as I used to wear them myself playing soccer in middle school.
Neymar's talent could be transcendent, and the overall talent on the Brazilian team could lead us to something even greater — the next great international power.
The recipe for greatness is there; they have youth in Neymar, Raphael, Romulo, and the tournament's leading scorer Demaio. Veteran leaders like Thiago Silva, Kaka, Hulk, Marcelo, and goalie Julio Cesar create a spine for the team up the middle of the field.
While talent is important in winning the World Cup, location has proven equally vital. Last month I praised Germany for their youth development, as I felt they were poised to win Euro '12. However, World Cup 2014 in Brazil will be a difficult task for all European teams. Spain was the first European team to ever win a World Cup outside of Europe when they took the title in South Africa in 2010.
The overall talent on the Brazilian team could lead us to something even greater — the next great international power.
Meanwhile, South American teams have proven more capable at bringing their talent to other continents. Brazil has won in the U.S., Mexico, Japan/South Korea, Sweden, and Chile. The irony is they lost the World Cup final in 1950 when it was in Brazil.
I understand that Olympic success is often a false predictor for future success, however, when looking at the talent they will be able to field in the coming years, it is difficult to overlook how good this team could be. Brazil has never won a gold medal in men's soccer, which has added a ton of pressure on these players. Anything shy of gold is a disappointment. Winning the Olympics will be a very worthwhile lesson for all these young players.
An Olympic victory on Saturday coupled with their host status in 2014 and their deep talent could lead to a really great chance for Brazil to begin their dominance in the sport again. I have no doubt Messi, Ronaldo, Fabergas, Suarez, and Ozil will do their best to prove me wrong. I'm already excited.
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Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
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