Brazil’s players and fans creaking under expectation

Misfiring on the field, the pressure to perform on home soil is showing

 Brazilian players celebrate with goalkeeper Júlio César  after winning the penalty shoot-out in the  round of 16 match against  Chile at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte. Photograph: Dennis Sabangan/EPA

Brazilian players celebrate with goalkeeper Júlio César after winning the penalty shoot-out in the round of 16 match against Chile at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte. Photograph: Dennis Sabangan/EPA

 

Brazilians have a terrible weakness for redemptions stories and if there is one silver lining to their side’s unmerited victory over Chile yesterday it is that the penalty shoot-out provided one.

After his error helped dump Brazil out of the World Cup in South Africa there was widespread praise for the heroics of Brazil’s goalkeeper Júlio César, returned from the wilderness he was cast into four years ago. ‘Ave, Cesar’ saluted a relieved Lance! ‘Saint Júlio César’ canonised O Dia while O Globo admitted ‘Júlio César Saves Brazil’.

But no-one was fleeing from the reality of what was widely seen as a desperately disappointing display by Brazil. ‘Lots of Luck, Little Football’ summed up the front page of Agora.

“It got to the point where it was fair to say Chile had already won the game. All that was left to decide was who would take the slot in the quarter-final,” wrote Paulo Vinícius Coelho. “Brazil needs to rethink its style and get back to having a midfield. Or it will not get past the next round.”

His colleague at Folha Juca Kfouri wondered what was coming if Felipão did not end what is increasingly seen as his blind loyalty to certain players for the sake of the team. “It is not possible that Daniel Alves and Hulk and Fred cannot be substituted, this last one with a change of system, because Jô is not the solution for anything.”

Elsewhere there was concern that wearing the famous canary yellow shirt at home in a World Cup is beginning to weigh on the players.

Júlio César was in tears before the penalty shoot-out even started, saying he was emotional “after all the beautiful things my colleagues said to me”. It follows captain Thiago Silva almost breaking down in tears at the pre-match press conference on Friday and Neymar’s deep heaves during the national anthem in the game against Mexico.

“The expressions, physiognomy and reactions make clear – the seleção is cowering. Not so much because of the rivals. But because of the obsessive way the country deals with a World Cup,” writes Carlos Eduardo Mansur in his column in O Globo.

“The blame is the type of society we have become. Perhaps we are always in search of self-confirmation, in compensation for our frustrations. And we see in football the shortest route. Therefore we have decided that 23 sportsmen are exclusively responsible for the happiness of 200 million people. As if there was no tomorrow, as if the history of football ended with this Cup. Either we win at home or it will be a huge tragedy breaking out over us. Either these 23 players resolve this giant problem that society created, or they’ll be eternal villains. It is not fair.”

Further signs that it might all be getting to the Brazil squad were in evidence after the game when technical coordinator Carlos Alberto Parreira said after the game “there is a plot in the air against the Brazilian team. The possibility of a sixth title is making many people uncomfortable”.

But what is making most Brazilians uncomfortable right now is the increasingly shaky state on and off the field of their seleção.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.