With the Brazil-France quarter-final later today, it seems relevant to revisit an article wrote earlier titled ‘How to Beat Brazil’ and see what tactics France will be using today in a bid to repeat their World Cup 98 heroics.
Here’s the dream team I picked to face Brazil:
GK – Iker Casillas, Petr Cech
DEF – Nesta, Terry, Ferdinand, Cannavaro, Gallas, Lahm
MID – Essien, Gattuso, Ballack, Riquelme, Gerrard, Pirlo, Robben, Cole, van Persie, Lennon
ST – Rooney, Henry
To these I would add Vieira, Makelele and Mascherano in the midfield, and perhaps Tevez to the front line.
As far as tactics are concerned, France will be playing the same 4-5-1 I discussed (with Zidane, Ribery and Malouda playing ahead of Makelele and Vieira with Henry again alone up front). This formation may not be ideal for Henry (as numerous people have pointed out, the Zidane-Henry partnership has produced 0 assists in their long and glittering career), but not only is this formation very effective, it also needs a player of the quality of Henry up front to make it work.
Will France still prevail, despite their team having the ideal players to beat Brazil’s style and system of playing? Remember that Carlos Parreira, Brazil’s coach, is a man accused of putting ‘efficient’ football above free-flowing, stylish play by the Brasilian press. Parreira was in charge of the Brazilians as the won in 94, and the national press still hounded him for winning ugly.
The point is that Parreira knows the weaknesses of his system (every system has a weakness), and he knows that France will put all their experience (these two are the oldest teams in the tournament – Brazil is a team where Ronaldo is a relative youngster at 29) and skills on the line, and not only will the full backs be hounded (by Zidane and Ribery), but the pace of Henry vs Lucio and Juan promises to be an entertaining contest as well.
Germany vs Argentina yesterday thrilled, but the game was soured by Pekerman’s poor substitutions and the post-match fighting. This World Cup has seen it’s share of drubbings and toe-to-toe combat, and now it’s crying out for something special.
Let’s hope Ronaldo and Zidane – the two men with the most to play for – will live up to the hype.