Brazil is the birthplace of the beautiful game, or as they call it – o jogo bonito. Since Charles Miller arrived in the Sao Paulo port Santos with a couple of footballs and a set of rules, the Brazilians have been going about the game of football in their own way, and in their own time. Eradicating the staidness of the British game they were presented with; they created a style of football which incorporated parts of their carnival culture, their religious beliefs, and a sense of individual flair which has made the Brazillian national team a worldwide attraction.
Then the Tika-Takas at Barcelona and Spain came along claimed the beautiful game as their own. Barcelona posses the trickery, flair, and creativity of a Brazilian footballing maestro, but present it in the form of a whole team rather than an individual. Recent claims that the Spanish style is boring to watch, might give Brazil the impetus to reintroduce their own style of the beautiful game to the masses, and take back what is rightfully theirs. Santos’ thrashing by Barcelona in the Club World Cup was a microcosm of what is happening on a world scale, but that defeated team might contain two of the players who will help Brazil reclaim o jogo bonito, just in time for 2014.
You’ll have heard of one of these players – the Brazilian wonderkid Neymar – and you might have heard of his team mate Ganso, who is to Neymar what Xavi is to Messi. These two have been much lauded by fellow and former professionals, and this praise has accompanied by the usual hype from journalists, and the self proclaimed football experts of the interweb.
Luckily for Brazil, these aren’t the only players emerging from the country to stake their claim for a part in the Selecao’s future endeavours. And a few of these players could even match the heights of the aforementioned Santos pair.
Two of these young stars have already been linking up at Porto Alegre side Internacional, and their performances have resulted in call ups to the Selecao and secured them a place in the Brazil u23 Olympic side for 2012. The first, Leandro Damiao, is a centre forward who possesses the pace and power to lead a line, and ruffle the feathers of even some of the more physical defenders around. These attributes have led to interest from sides in the English Premier League who are normally wary of signing from the Brazilian league, as well as teams across Europe. The second of these young Internacional stars is Oscar, who lit up the under 20s world cup in 2011 with a hat trick in the final, which helped his side beat Portugal 3-2 AET to win the trophy.
Maybe the most unassuming of the current bunch of Brazilian wonderkids, is the midfielder Romulo, who recently signed for Spartak Moscow from Rio side Vasco da Gama. Born in the city of Picos in North East Brazil, Romulo is the type of unsung hero who will knit together a team of more flamboyant stars, and is as strong in defence as he is in attack. Comfortable on the ball (he’s Brazilian), Romulo is good in the air and tenacious in the tackle. He could be described as a cross between Liverpool’s Lucas Leiva, and Sandro of Tottenham Hotspur, both of whom could see their place in national team squads under threat from the 21 year old in the near future. At 8m Euros Spartak might have just got themselves a bargain.
An often used phrase in football is that history only remembers winners, but ask anyone about the best football teams in history and many will mention the Brazil side of 1982, who didn’t win anything, but entertained the spectators with their style and flair. The new generation will hope to do the same, but add the winning mentality of the world cup winning sides. With tiki taka starting to send many onlookers into a slumber with its hypnotic rhythm, the stage is set for a new generation of Brazilian footballers to wake people up with the latest incarnation of o jogo bonito. The alarm is set for the 12th of June, 2014.