The English Premier League took a break to allow qualifying games for the European Cup in 2012 and the World Cup in 2014. Mexico and Brazil faced off for an international friendly in Mexico. At half time, it appeared that Brazil was heading to another defeat. They were down to 10 men and 1-0 behind. Dani Alves who has not played well at right-back for Brazil was sent off for fouling “Chicharito” Hernandez in the box. In the ensuing penalty kick, Jefferson, the Brazilian goalkeeper who had replaced the injured Julio Cesar, came up with a remarkable save. Playing with 10 men in the second half, the Brazilians lifted their game and played with great gusto.
Ronaldinho, who returned home to Brazilian club football, has been called back to the national team. This is the rejuvenated Ronaldinho. Not the Ronaldinho who merely perch on the left and sent in dangerous crosses and did zero defensive work. This is the Ronaldinho who is trying to win a World Cup for Brazil in 2014 alongside Neymar, Damaio, Marcelo, Robinho, et al. The big question regarding Ronaldinho is can he re-capture the form of the 2002 World Cup when he was instrumental in leading his country to victory? Can he re-capture that form of playing at home for Flamengo? Can he stay out of the night clubs and maintain a high level of fitness? Can he perform at a high level in the 2014 World Cup at the age of 30 plus?
It was a Ronaldinho’s free kick that allowed Brazil to level against Mexico. And it was a dazzling run by Marcelo of Real Madrid that allowed Brazil to emerge triumphant against Mexico even though the gold shirts were playing with ten men.
Brazil in that second half played with great energy, grit, and gusto. Mano Menezes team may be coming together. Alves needs to be replaced as the right full back. Cesar and Lucio are part of an over-the-hill gang that does not belong in the Brazilian national team. Menezes still has to sort out his mid-field. He needs runners and creative players who can assist Neymar, Ronaldinho, Robinho and Damaio. Menezes cannot keep rotating ad infinitum. He needs to settle on a core that can establish the necessary Samba chemistry. A competitive Brazilian national team is critical to the international game.