June 29, 2009


Five things we've learned from the Confederations Cup: Although dismissed by many, the tournament offered a few clues ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (Jonathan Wilson Monday 29 June 2009, Guardian Sports Blog)

4. Brazil are better than we thought

OK, their central defence struggles to deal with the crossed ball, and Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo are susceptible when players run at them, but Dunga's Brazil are far better than the carping nostalgists who hark back to the glory days of 1970 might suggest. Late winners against Egypt and South Africa and the comeback against the US in the final suggest great spirit and self-belief; Luis Fabiano has proved himself not merely a superb taker of chances, but a highly effective leader of the line; there is a developing balance to the midfield, even if Gilberto lacks bite.

But most importantly, they seem to have a second option. Where Spain huffed and puffed against the US, trying to pass a way through a packed midfield, Brazil changed tack at half-time and spread the ball wide, using Maicon and Andre Santos (then Dani Alves) to hit the spaces left by the US's narrow midfield. They may not yet be better than Spain, but they are evolving and improving.

Maicon played those balls through the whole first half too, but Bob Bradley never adjusted and by pulling Altidore and Feilhaber we lost much capacity to drive forward ourselves and one of the guys who'd been heading balls out of the box.

As significant as our failure to adjust to Brazil's play defensively though is our failure to ape it offensively. Our current formation--basically a 4-2-2-2--lacks width. Spector occasionally plays a cross in from the wings but isn't deft at it yet and it isn't something we're looking to do regularly. He, Bornstein, and Marvell Wynne should work on nothing else the rest of the Summer. With Onyewu, Demerit, Clark, and Bradley so firm up the middle defensively we can afford to have the other guys in back make those runs and feed balls to the middle.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 29, 2009 12:19 PM
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