Some Assorted Facts and Trivia

A Quick Note on Brazilian Football Tactics

OK... these pages are all about Brazilian players, not on tactical systems or anything like it, and I haven't been able to find time even to update that, so why am I writing on tactics?

In fact, a while ago I had the chance to watch the Brazil x Chile U-21 match while in Chile, and from the (Chilean) narrator's comments I could make some interesting remarks on the way we play and on what makes our teams "look" different (apart from the players, of course!)...

Also, I thought that it might be interesting to bring this up here, as it may help to clarify the discussion I make on the "Wingers" page (i.e., on why our side backs can be called wingers)...

'Nuff Said, To The Facts:

Well, the usual way to describe the most used tactical system in Brazil is to say we play on a 4-4-2 system... As a friend (thanks, Vic!) pointed out to me, in fact the 4-4-2 system seem to be a genuinely Brazilian invention, as a "compromise point" between the all-offensive English "WM" system and the all-defensive "6 full-backs" Italian style... Today, though, that's a completely misguiding name - at least for the way we play!

While in Europe a 4-4-2 is usually understood as two well-defined lines of four players, one in the defense and one in the midfield, our local teams (and, most of the time, our National Team) play in something like a 2-4-2-2, i.e., 2 fixed defenders, the two side-backs rougly aligned with two defenside midfielders (and all of these with an exceptional territorial freedom), two "true" midfielders and two forwards. In fact, when the team goes forward, the defensive midfielders usually advance diagonally to pair with the side-backs, while the midfielders infiltrate in the middle to pair with the forwards, thus often we see up to 8 players taking part in the offensive movement (instead of the 6 that you'd see in an "usual" 4-4-2)!

On the other hand, it has been increasingly fashionable for our teams to play in a "said-to-be-3-5-2" system (possibly an influence from Scolari's highly successful WC2002 Brazilian Team)... once again, this demands a bit of talking... this "3-5-2" is usually something like a 3-2-3-2, with the 3 defenders all lined up (nothing like a true "libero" (I guess in elgish it is called "stopper") as in the 3-5-2's you'll find in Italy, for instance), two defensive midfielders (usually one is less bound to the defense than the other), the side-backs now aligned to a single midfielder and two forwards; a usual variant if this (and the most used one) is the one in which one of the defensive midfielders in fact playes like a midfielder and the only "true" midfielder plays like a center forward coming from behind (i.e, we end up in something like a 3-1-3-1-2) - that was exactly how Scolari's team played in WC2002!

In fact, thinking a bit on it, the side-backs may be the true heart of the present "Brazilian way of playing" - our side-backs do both the defensive balance and the forward movements thoughout the whole game, in such a way that sometimes it seems that we have two extra players in the pitch!

Well... I guess I'd have some two or three more things to say here, but I'll have to save'em for a later date... But keep tuned, it ain't over just yet!!

"Scratch" or "Selecao"?

That's another interesting fact... from time to time I get an e-mail from some foreigner which refers to the Brazilian National Team as "Scratch" or "Selecao" (the same way we call the Spanish National Team "Furia" or the Italian National Team as "Squadra Azzurra"), and in Chile I had the chance to hear the narrator calling it "Scratch" more than once... The interesting fact about that is that both names sound quite interesting for us, as they would never be immediately assigned to the National Team!

Selecao (or, more correctly, Seleção) is the portuguese for "selection", and is how we call every National Team for every sport! On the other hand, Scratch is an english word that means nothing to us, but sounds very much like "Escrete", which is how the one would call a football team in the 50, 60's and so... The assignment possibly come from the fact that on those days the Brazilian Team as usually called "Escrete Canarinho", just because of a yellow bird, very common in Brazil, called "Canário...

So, all in all, for us the names "Seleção" and "Scratch" (or "Escrete") would simply mean "Team" or "National Team"! In the end, we call our national team "Seleção Brasileira" (and we call the English National Team "Seleção Inglesa" and so on - no special deference is made to ours in the naming scheme)! On the other hand, we do have a special way of calling the National Team jersey, the "amarelinha" ("little yellow"), so we often say that a player "fits the amarelinha" (when he is ready for wearing them) or that opponents fear the amarelinha (meaning that they fear the sight of our yellow jerseys... got the idea? ;-)

Guilherme Soares Zahn

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© - Guilherme Soares Zahn - 2005