Bruno just wants to play -- if he can get out of prison

Posted by Fernando Duarte

PABLO PORCIUNCULA/AFP/Getty ImagesA former hero for Flamengo, Bruno now faces a very long road back to continue his career.

Perhaps not even Quentin Tarantino could have come with a more gruesome and bizarre plot: a famous goalkeeper from Brazil's best-supported team goes to court accused of ordering the killing of his mistress. But this is a real case that rocked Brazilian football during the 2010 World Cup.

Four years later, Brazilians have again been drawn to the tragic life of former Flamengo captain Bruno Fernandes, who signed with lower division club Montes Claros in a desperate attempt at a second chance. Continue Reading...

Brazilian domestic game clamouring to be heard

Posted by James Young

Botofogo GettyImagesBotafogo may best represent the issues in Brazilian football.

As the start of this year’s Brazilian league season draws closer this weekend, if one were to nominate a typical Serie A club, Botafogo might be as good a bet as any. Not a supposed giant like Corinthians or Flamengo, but not a minnow like Chapecoense or Criciuma either.

Botafogo’s glorious sepia-toned past, which featured players like Nilton Santos and Garrincha, lingers in the memory. Meanwhile, today’s club break up the tedium of being quite, but not very, good most of the time with the odd tilt at glory, and rarely get involved in a relegation battle. Continue Reading...

Selecao legend Rivelino fears for Brazil's future

Posted by Fernando Duarte

Getty ImagesRivellino has seen the good and the bad with Brazil, winning in 1970 but finishing fourth in '74 and third in '78.

One would think that a football school bearing the last name of a Brazil football legend would bring more traffic jams to the already clogged streets of São Paulo's Brooklyn neighborhood. But the Rivelino Sport Center is not the place hopeful parents and children should head to if they dream of glory days; instead, even the school's website is quite frank when giving information on its activities.

"Our football school aims to prepare kids for a healthy and structured future [sic] through the practice of sports," says the disclaimer, placed side-by-side with an ad about travel packages to the Disney Cup, where the visit to the Magic Kingdom is more highlighted than the tournament itself. Continue Reading...

Kaka surge may come too late for Brazil

Posted by Tim Vickery

KakaGettyImagesKaka celebrates netting on his 300th appearance.

Kaka celebrated his 300th game for Milan at the weekend with two goals against Chievo Verona, and afterward made it clear that he is still clinging to hopes of crashing Brazil’s World Cup party. What he has to do, he says, is continue to play well for his club and hope that it is enough to get the nod from Luiz Felipe Scolari when Brazil’s manager names his 23-man squad on May 7.

A landmark occasion, some praise from his club coach, and a couple of goals against a side at the wrong end of Serie A are all very well, but it is unlikely to be enough. Continue Reading...

Who stays, who plays in Brazil's crowded midfield?

Posted by Fernando Duarte

Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty ImagesLuiz Felipe Scolari and his Brazil brain trust have some big decisions ahead.

Much has been said about Brazil's troubles in finding a consistent pair of centre-forwards to lead their charge toward a sixth World Cup title come June. But scarcity is hardly a problem for Luiz Felipe Scolari elsewhere. With little over a month before he announces his final 23, the Seleção manager must be scratching his head to solve the midfield jigsaw.

With four theoretical places to fill in his crowded squad, Big Phil faces a surplus of players for that sector, and picking the right ones is much harder than one could imagine. Continue Reading...

Brazil's physical preparation could be World Cup key

Posted by Tim Vickery

Buda Mendes/LatinContent/Getty ImagesBrazil coach Luiz Felipe Scorlari, right, and technical director Carlos Alberto Parreira will be leaning on the Selecao's physical preparation to be a difference maker at this summer's World Cup.

"The ideal would be having a month to prepare," says Brazil's technical co-ordinator Carlos Alberto Parreira about the gap between the end of the European season and the start of the World Cup. Twenty years ago he was Brazil's coach when the long wait for the fourth world title at last came to an end. "In 1994," he recalls, "we had 35 days to train together, and we managed to play four warm-up friendlies. Now we only have time for two." Brazil will play against Panama and Serbia a few days before kicking off the tournament on June 12th. Continue Reading...

Pride of the north

Posted by James Young

FlamengoGettyImagesFlamengo are a well supported club, but fans show little interest in the state games.

Unloved, unwatched and responsible for the fixture squeeze that means top clubs can play a possible 80 games per year, it seems that Brazil’s elderly state championships may finally have had their day. Last week respected journalists Paulo Vinicius Coelho and Juca Kfouri both exhorted local football fans to enjoy the televised prime rib of Real Madrid versus Barcelona instead of the thin gruel currently on offer on the Brazilian domestic football menu.

“Enjoy El Clásico! Continue Reading...

Remembering Bellini -- the World Cup's immortal captain

Posted by Tim Vickery

VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty ImagesBellini, the captain of Brazil's 1958 World Cup winners, is immortalized outside of Brazil's Maracana stadium.

If all goes according to the plan for the World Cup hosts, then in Rio de Janeiro on July 13 Brazil captain Thiago Silva will hold aloft the World Cup, imitating a famous gesture by Bellini, his predecessor both as skipper and centre back of the Selecao.

Should Thiago want some practice then all he has to do is wander just outside the Maracana stadium, where there is a famous statue of Bellini with the trophy, which nowadays serves as a popular meeting point before and after matches. Continue Reading...

Amid a sad farewell, Rivaldo finally feels the love

Posted by Fernando Duarte

Ale Vianna/News Free/LatinContent/Getty ImagesRivaldo's fight for respect began at a very early age and never stopped.

Rivaldo Vitor Borba Ferreira didn't do much differently than other sportsmen who clung a bit too long to a professional career before finally admitting defeat to the inexorable march of time. The slight difference is that every leap over the shark performed by the former Barcelona star, who retired last Saturday at the age of 41, seemed to have more to do with a search for appreciation than any delusions regarding the strength and potency of his power.

This quest was only natural for a player who spent most of his career entertaining a siege mentality that had little do with dives or feigned injuries. Continue Reading...

Home sides dominant halfway through Libertadores

Posted by Tim Vickery

Nereu JR/LatinContent/Getty ImagesAtletico Mineiro's Independencia stadium has been a fortress.

It is halftime in the group phase of the Copa Libertadores, South America's equivalent of the Champions League. The 32 teams are distributed in eight groups, and now each team has played all of its group rivals once. An ideal time, then, to draw early conclusions? Perhaps not.

At this stage the statistics are skewed by the fact that all the teams have played three matches –- either two at home and one away, or vice versa. This has a dramatic effect on the outcomes so far. Continue Reading...

The best teams are in good shape for the World Cup

Posted by Paulo Vinicius Coelho

Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty ImagesCaptain Phillip Lahm was a midfielder for Germany and a left back for Bayern.

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Philipp Lahm was quoted in a Brazilian newspaper, Folha de S. Paulo, saying that he does not want to play left-back anymore. He can play right-back or midfielder, he said. In the friendly against Chile, 100 days before the opening game of the World Cup, Lahm played midfielder, but in the left side, almost a winger.

The ability to play in many roles is one of the qualities of Germany.

It's the capacity of playing the same way and controlling the matches. Continue Reading...

Futsal, not beach football, is the key to Brazil's style

Posted by Fernando Duarte

Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty ImagesThe futsal movement is strong in Brazil. Here, kids play at the Cafu Foundation in Rio de Janeiro.

Ronaldo was probably 10 when he properly stepped on a beach. Born and bred in Bento Ribeiro, a poor neighborhood in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, he had spent more time grazing his toes on concrete or grass-less pitches than actually stepping on sand -- he would later almost drown in an over-enthusiastic attempt to tame the waves at the renowned Copacabana Beach. For him and his family to regularly check the seaside scene they would have to endure grueling bus journeys.

Pele? Continue Reading...