Holding Midfield: Case Study: England 2-1 Brazil 6/2/2013

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The last time Luiz Felipe Scolari coached Brazil against England, both teams were in very different circumstances. In their 2002 World Cup quarter-final, they lined up against each other as two of the best teams in the world. Scolari had rescued a trainwreck of a qualifying campaign and was on his way to guiding Brazil to their fifth World Cup, while Sven-Goran Eriksson had forged a quality-filled base to defend for the excellent partnership of Michael Owen and Emile Heskey. Now, however, neither team looks close to that quality. After the embarrassment of failing to win their last World Cup on home turf in 1950, Brazil are understandably desperate to win the 2014 World Cup, but their hosting appears to have come at the wrong time, with their player pool stuck between generations. The generation Scolari used to win his first World Cup are mostly retired or on their way out, while the next lot of stars are still young. Those who are in or around their prime are the likes of Thiago Silva or Ramires – quality players, but not the most creative of types. Mano Menezes was sacked after poor showings in the Copa America and Olympics – [...]

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