What did England and Brazil have in common tonight?
Both sent their star-studded, astronomically-paid, highly-hyped national football teams to play on home soil, in their largest cities, against opposition that, while having good campaigns, is a bit substandard on a name-by-name basis. e.g. most players in the opposition first-choice 11 are either in lower-ranking leagues, or are reserves in average teams of top leagues.
Still, both were thoroughly outplayed, as:
- their hapless, seemingly lost coaches made blunders out of team selections (Carson? SWP? Mineiro? Gilberto?) and substitutions (Bent for Joe Cole? Josue for Ronaldinho?);
- their central midfielders were unable to exchange the simplest of passes;
- their forwards could not connect and resorted to individual glimpses that were most of the times simple to contain;
- their defense, missing first-choice starters, was wreaked havoc upon by previously unknown players who dribbled around in Ballon D'Or exhibitions (Luka Modric in Wembley and Cristian Rodríguez at the Morumbi);
- the opposition taught a lesson of teamwork over the disorganized bunches of big names.
For England, it was an all-or-nothing match, and now they're out of the Euro, while Brazil's match against Uruguay was still at a fifth of the campaign.
And Brazil actually won its game - though, seriously, I repeat, outplayed - thanks to three things England missed:
- an excellent keeper playing at his best (Julio Cesar);
- a top-notch, classy, flawless defender (Juan);
- and a centre-forward who was not only willing and able, but also lucky (Luis Fabiano).