Friday, July 27, 2012

Brazil's next Golden Generation

The London Olympics get underway in mere hours.

The football, however, has already begun - with storylines aplenty.  North Korea's women have walked from the pitch in Scotland, heavily-fancied Spain were upset in their first match and finally, the football world is blessed to behold "Team GB".  True to British style, flattered to disappoint in their first match, a draw against Senegal.

And we will witness the rebirth of a football superpower.  

Brazil have stocked their squad with so much young talent that they must be considered firm favourites to collect their first football gold medal: AC Milan's Alexandre Pato, Manchester United target Lucas Moura, Chelsea's newest addition, Oscar, Santos star Ganso and finally perhaps the best Samba player to emerge since Ronaldo, their brightest star, Neymar.  

Most intimidating?  Each player on this list is 22 or younger.  Overage players include  Hulk - perhaps Europe's best player not playing in one of the big five leagues - as well as stalwart centre-back Thiago Silva.

The talent is so superior it doesn't just indicate favouritism for the Olympics, but also for the upcoming World Cup and beyond.  Not even Spain with Iker Munain, Juan Mata, Oriol Romeu and Javi Martinez can rival the Brazilians for pure, unadulterated skill.  

In fact, you arguably have to go back to the World Cup in Germany to find a Brazilian squad with this much natural ability - where Ronaldinho played in his pomp, Ronaldo and Adriano hadn't yet discovered the joys of pastry and Kaka was emerging as a real candidate for world's best player.  The last worldwide exposure we had to a Brazil team was in 2010 where a team of loping, playful souls were miscast as terriers by a terrier-like coach, Dunga.

This only juxtaposes the wellspring of youthful gifts on display.  The Olympic team is easily and obviously such a contrasts to the Brazil squads over the past half-dozen years that they should play with the joy of an uncaged puppy.  By employing senior team coach Mano Menezes as five-rings mentor, the FCB have also provided a direct link from the Olympic squad to the World Cup team.  

The football world should be sit up and take note of what promises to be a very amusing Olympic sideshow.  Because Brazil, so long the Olympic disappointment, won't be so this year.

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