ANGEL GONZALEZ ALPUCHE & LUKA PETRINEC / AIPS* in DUBAI: Brazil, right from the very first minutes of the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013, were the team who played the most attacking football and put on the best show for the fans.
The Scratch d’Oro captivated the followers of the United Arab Emirates with a style designed to attack from opening moments of every game.
Against champions Mexico, in the quarter-finals however, that was not enough. A 1-1 draw in Dubai was followed by a penalty shootout and an abrupt exit and end to their search for a fourth championship title.
In the competitive context Brazil were not quite as good as they thought, their big-match temperament and self-discipline not quite up to the challenge.
Coach Alexandre Gallo, for example, had to watch the opening 6-1 thrashing of Slovakia from the stands through suspension after having been sent from the bench in the last game of the South American Championship.
Brazil followed up with victories over hosts UAE by 6-1 and Honduras by 3-0. Then came the first major test in the form of European champions Russia in the second round. The South Americans, scoring their first goal only after the Russians had a player sent off, won 3-1.
But already their discipline had failed them again. Towards the end of the goalless first half six-goal top scorer Boschilia was shown a yellow card for diving to try to win a penalty. Since he had been booked against the Slovaks that meant he was suspended from the quarter-final. Against Mexico he was badly missed.
Competitive football is not about the jogo bonito – the beautiful game – but about winning.
Gallo found defeat difficult to accept.
He said: “We tried a lot to play our best football. Mexico had to work hard in the defence. They did not have many chances. I think we had deserved [to win]. But that is football.
“With all respect, our team are the best in the competition. But football is a sport of passion. It’s not always the best team who win.”
Gallo took pride in his belief that Brazil had been the most positive team in the finals compared with the cautious approach of everyone else.
He said: “Most of teams here are playing defensive football; Brazil play an attacking one. In Brazil we have another thinking. We want all the time to win. That’s why Brazil are, most of the time, champion of the youth competitions.”
But not this time.
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
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