Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Masters v The Minnows

Pele: Arguably the greatest
Lucio, Dani Alves, Pato, Neymar. While the Brazilian names of the present don't strike the same sort of fear as the Pele's, Jarzinho's and Romario's of old, the South Americans still have a presence that the footballing world appreciates. A country rich in tradition and success on the footballing field gives an alluring picture to those used to falling at the last hurdle of qualifying time and again in recent years. When the Scotland team take to the field against the mighty Brazilians, it is a chance to test themselves on the biggest of all stages.
The Brazilians have long been admired for the attractive, creative football, showing the kind of flair and arrogance that only the best can get away with. Free flowing in their passing, fearless in attack, these players are the pinnacle to what every young footballer should be aiming to be. With 5 World Cup's and 8 Copa America string's to their bow, this is a country that doesn’t accept failure easily and the recent dwnturn in terms of silverware has led to the third change of manager since the 2002 World Cup victory. Mano Menezes is the man now charged with inciting the flamboyance and skills into this side, while delivering the success that their fans demand.

A goal against the best
 Contrast this to their opposition at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday and it’s a very different picture indeed. Names such as Bell, Crainey and Davidson won’t be throwing Brazil’s plans into disarray. With these players drifting into our squad, it is little wonder Scotland haven’t managed to qualify for a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup where, incidentally, they faced Brazil in their opening group game. A John Collins goal made it 1-1, and although Tom Boyd scored a late own goal, it gives credence to the irrational hope the Tartan Army have going into every game. The subsequent years since have been frustrating for the loyal contingent with a combination of poor performances and narrow exits from qualification leaving a sour taste in the mouths of the devoted support.

It has come to be expected that 4-5-1 is the way forward for Scotland with Walter Smith and Alex McLeish achieving relative success with a defensive, long ball structure that saw wins over the Netherlands and France in recent years. Fans have been forced to grudgingly accept that on the international scene, Scotland really are the minnows and in turn must play as such. Gone are the days of Dalglish and Gemmill who excited the fans with trickery and here to stay for the foreseeable future are a team of battlers, such as Darren Fletcher, Kenny Miller and Scott Brown. The Samba stars have their own brand of football, unfortunately for Scotland so do we.

Don Cowie: Striking fear into Brazil since 2011
Focusing on Sunday’s game it is something which every Scotland fan and player wishes to be a part of. The buzz and excitement, and the mere mention of Brazil, has injured players up of the treatment table and that ‘slight knock’ they have at most friendly’s, miraculously disappearing. Craig Levein, however, will be filling his players full of confidence ahead of what could be the biggest game of their careers. The chance to tell your grandchildren about the time you faced the best is one that many a soul would be sold for. A country famous for its carnival will come face-to-face with a country enjoying their own day in the sun and in front of a sell out crowd, who are probably not there to see Gary Caldwell shelling balls into the stand or the shirt-selling name of Don Cowie, everyone will enjoy the occasion for what it is. A chance to see the best playing against our own. To see football as it should be played. And have the chance to say you were there.

David Narey, Archie Gemmill and James McFadden among others have made themselves heroes with goals against the greatest. Who will step up on Sunday?

Bring it on.

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