BRAZIL IN A MESSI; Going Nuts: Tempers Fray as Messi (18) Tangles with Gilberto and Anderson (Inset)

Daily Mail (London), June 20, 2008 | Go to article overview

BRAZIL IN A MESSI; Going Nuts: Tempers Fray as Messi (18) Tangles with Gilberto and Anderson (Inset)


Byline: NEIL ASHTON

FOR a country that specialises in football education, Brazil can alsospeak the universal language.

'Adeus Dunga' leaves little to the imagination, especially when the leadsingers are inside a sprawling concrete bowl in Belo Horizonte and the backingvocals are provided by 114million Brazilians screaming at their televisionsets.

Seems like they want you out, old son.

Maybe fourth place in their World Cup qualifying group, behind Paraguay,Argentina and Colombia, is the new first.

Not for a country that has won the World Cup a record five times and demandsfootball of a certain flavour it isn't.

Fans can still taste the triumphs of 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. They spatthis World Cup qualifier out, though.

Brazil coach Dunga picked his spot on Wednesday night, selecting the60,000-seater stadium high up in the hills of Belo Horizonte because theyalways see off Argentina when they play here.

This was the exception, then.

When Argentina are in town, they don't need a team talk. Or at least theyshouldn't need one.

Supporters take their seats three hours before kick-off, soak up the steamyatmosphere and sing along with the warm-up act who are on a stage behind thegoal. This is something else.

It is the game where you pull in favours to get a ticket; remind friends it ispayback time for when you helped them move house or you sell the wife straightdown the Amazon.

Tickets exchange hands in hotel foyers for [pounds sterling]200 a timea month's wages to some Brazilians and the expectation exceeds anything else.

Liverpool-Everton? Kids stuff by comparison. Rangers- Celtic? Child's play.Arsenal- Tottenham? Oh, come on.

Feel the noise. Feel the passion.

For that, Dunga gets to feel the heat of a nation which craves creativity asmuch as the World Cup.

Sport TV begin their build-up five hours before kick-off and their touchlinereporter interviews players as they walk off the pitch at half-time, when thereis a break for an injury and again at full time. Geoff Shreeves, eat your heartout.

A carnival? You must be kidding. The two countries stand still for this one,colliding at 10pm local time, kicking lumps out of each other and careeringtowards a desperate 0-0 draw.

Brazil are in trouble. Big Trouble. There, it has been said. Someone had to, 50years on from Pele's first appearance at the World Cup finals.

There is nothing wrong with the national league, where Flamengo v Sao Paulo inBrazil's Serie A last weekend served up some of the best football you will eversee. …

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