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Brazil's national team faces its most serious crisis during coach Wanderley Luxemburgo's
term. The 1x2 score against Paraguay was the second Brazilian loss ever in the history of World Cup
Qualifiers.

But the relevance of this historic result is a bit overestimated by the media in its search for
immediate impact. After all, we shouldn't forget that the first Brazilian loss in Qualifiers was suffered
in 1993 against Bolivia, by a team which a year later would become world champion. So the result
itself isn't a best reference.

Brazil's loss could or should have happened before Paraguay, and that is what counts. Because
looking back at all previous matches, tied or won, we perceive a lasting pattern, of a team which has
never allowed for much optimism, however you looked at it. Not pleasant to the eyes, neither
competitive enough.

Former star Roberto Rivellino, in a recent TV interview, laid out the cards of the puzzle: look at
Brazil's sum of individualities and there's just no comparison with other continental teams except
Argentina. Then how come this embarrassing performance in the Qualifiers ?

As stars constellations may be just apparent, result of a simplifying perspective, we could say
that we have players but not a team, even though at some point it seemed that some shape was being
built, unfortunately to no successful continuity.

The pattern that we have followed so far with Wanderley Luxemburgo's team is this: whatever
he prepares technically before a match just doesn't work, the team usually disappoints in first half.
Then he'll do something for second half, either by changing a lineup that had been cared for during
days, or by demanding more dedication. Reacting effect is then perceived, for some little extent.

This routine has kept us wondering: what is Brazil's team ? which is the official lineup ? who
are the starting forwards ? In Zagallo's days we used to criticize him for not recurring enough to
substitutes. In another extreme, Luxemburgo has been making too many changes.

Upcoming is next Wednesday's super-classico against a high-profiled Argentina, to possibly
save Luxemburgo's fate. Despite meeting the strongest of all opponents, there's no better chance for
a Brazilian rehabilitation, f or momentary that it might be. But where will the players get enough
energy, especially under the skeptical audience at Morumbi stadium ?

The answer could lie in the events which followed the loss in Asuncion, with captain Cafú
leaving earlier and players being accused of not having enough dedication to honor the yellow shirt.
Which in fact was Luxemburgo's own excuse.

In the day after, the players met for some "laundry" and self-criticism, pointing towards a
different attitude to be expected against the Argies. But, even if true, we'll have to know later how
long it lasts. There's always the risk of conclusions drawn out of isolated facts, especially in a moment
when Argentinal seems to carry a full stomach, comfortable with its straight-wins leading record.

The shadows around Luxemburgo's team have been fed by an aggravating ingredient: in the
days prior to the match in Asuncion, there were some outspoken remarks from team members against
ex-players who are now critical commentators.

As we may recall, before Brazil's fourth world title in WC94 there was also tremendous
pressure and criticism against the team coached by Parreira. But we learned then that such team had
something in return: despite short of finesse, it was a united one, determined to win against all
obstacles. Today there's not even a team yet, let alone companionship feelings.

The affair about red-carded Cafú's leaving earlier has been somewhat distorted and seems
coherent with the lack of true unity in today's squad. Who didn't know from the very beginning that
such player was never any kind of leader ? Had Brazil won against Paraguay and maybe there would
be no fuss about his going home sooner, practical stuff. With the loss, as Cafú himself innocently
suggests, some comrads have surprisingly over-reacted, possibly worried about saving their own ...

I don't like the concept of guilt and blame, much rather preferring that of cause/effect. Among
the causes for the so far disastrous effects (from a usual Brazilian stand point), the coach job is
certainly present, even though we just can't say that things would be much different with someone
else other than Luxemburgo.

It is truly a new reality, this one in which the Qualifiers are a long event disallowing continuity
efforts, coupled with players availability issues. But that is the rule for all, not fair as excuse. Fact is,
against such difficulties, whatever planning that Luxemburgo may have done just seems to have
failed.

As we recently mentioned, Pelé questioned why the coach did not take the pre-Olympic
champion team as starting point, choosing instead to experiment with consecutive lineup changes,
some of which quite bizarre.

It has been street knowledge that Luxemburgo has never allowed a same attacking duo to start
in these Qualifiers. The image gets even worse when you remember that in most matches he changes
whatever attack he chose, to just duplicate the lack of continuity.

Many complain against a too-defensive midfield, but not even that is the problem since less
defensive names have made no difference. How defensive or offensive a team behaves has to do
greatly with how the coach positions his players, a point already discussed here.

In the past, I complained a lot against Zagallo because of his disregard to making the team
practice. On the positive side though, and despite questionable listings, the WC98 Zagallo showed
some ability in choosing the field names, without just making up ideas out of the moment.

It's ironic how precisely this detail has been missed by Luxemburgo, a coach acknowledged as
much more hard-working and competent than his predecessor. He's already produced quite a few
"inventions", sending in players to tasks totally diverse from their nature.

Since he keeps changing, none of the formulas enjoys a true chance. Even putting together half
of Palmeiras's shiny team of the mid 80s didn't help against Paraguay, since it was, again, another
one-shot attempt.

It seems that despite all adversities, Luxemburgo hasn't yet chosen a clear plan B, which
should imply an urgent return to basics, giving away for the moment any modern concepts which he
had wished to adopt but which keep facing an obstacling reality.

He should better off make up his mind for fewer names and allow these the chance of building
self-confidence and companionship so one can tell which team is Luxemburgo's team. Unless he does
so from now on he'll be in serious trouble and even a momentary rehabilitation Wednesday against
Argentina won't be cure enough.

Should Luxemburgo be too stubborn to revaluate things, then we might be facing again a
dilemma similar to that involving Zagallo in months prior to WC98. Blame it on Brazil's association
CBF which has again committed the basic sin of leaving too much power in the hands of the coach.
Now unless the scenery changes for the better, and unless he's willing to accept the idea of a
coordinator, another intervention could become likely.

I write all this trying to spot a way out for Luxemburgo's own methods, not that I entirely agree
with them. I would rather have players of more personality as well as a true leader to demand
dedication, but that is just not Luxemburgo's style and even though I find it not ideal I must not forget
that it produced results in the clubs he's worked with.

Thus, when opinion-makers now demand the presence of a leader a la Dunga in the team they
are in practice disapproving Luxemburgo's style, one that many of them initially praised.

Technically, Brazil has already been an inversion of that offensive game achieved by
Luxemburgo with old Palmeiras and last year's Corinthians. Couple the current defensive approach
with some true field leader and it sure won't look anything like what we knew as Luxemburgo's way
 
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