Brazil – @GoalkeeperHelp
To say the pressure on a host country to win the World Cup is hard, imagine being Brazil where you are expected to win every match, tournament, and title possible. Now we know the focus on Brazil, is goal scorers, and not goalkeepers, but all of us here at Complete Keeper, really know who is the last line of defense and first line of offense. I’m sure we don’t have many Brazilian followers, since no one really wants to be a goalkeeper anyway. A recent article by Yahoo! stated, “ The first thing Brazilian kids often do before pick-up games is play “rock, scissors, paper” to decide who gets stuck in goal. With so many outstanding strikers and midfielders in Brazilian history, few chose keepers as their childhood idols.”( http://news.yahoo.com/brazil-pays-price-lack-goalkeeping-culture-024906321.html)
In the land of Pele and now Neymar and Oscar, everyone thinks of goals and more goals, but not goalkeepers. As a young 14 year old stateside in 1994, I was watching Taffarel and thought wow what a job it must be to play goalkeeper for Brazil with Romario and Dunga in front of you. Your team scores goals and frustrates opponents, so you pretty much stand around. Well goalkeepers do not have the luxury of doing nothing in fact, many folks forget to mention the likes of a goalkeeper like Taffarel and Felix, who both had solid careers in the nets for Brazil, but as we as goalkeepers know, everyone loves the ones scoring the goals.
Felix called “Paper” in his playing days, was only after his death, recognized for the key save and part he had in the 1970 group match 1-0 Win over England. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/felix-goalkeeper-in-brazils-greatest-football-team-8099842.html)
Zetti, Taffarel’s back up in the 94 Brazilian World Cup squad, has started his own goalkeeping academy as a way to try and change this view. “If the kid is good enough with the ball, probably he will not want to play in goal,” Zetti stated. Zetti also explains part of the lack of a goalkeeping stronghold, “Brazil long neglected to take goalkeeping seriously, he explained. Teams didn’t hire trainers for that position, so goalkeepers couldn’t match strikers and midfielders for quality.” (http://news.yahoo.com/brazil-pays-price-lack-goalkeeping-culture-024906321.html) This issue has been discussed on Twitter as fellow coaches discuss the need for specialized training and development of our goalkeepers too, yet clubs do not necessarily see the importance that they take in the development of their outfield players.
If you had told me at that same time in 1994 that an American goalkeeper would be captaining an English Premier League team in Everton and a Brazilian goalkeeper would be the big signing for a Canadian team playing in Major League Soccer, I would have laughed. Many question why Julio Cesar would take a loan to Toronto FC, but it is Cesar who is having the last laugh. Brazilian National Team Coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, named Cesar as one of his four captains for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. As a goalkeeper you want to lead your team and now have a chance to make youth want to be Cesar instead of being Neymar, as they look to advance past the group stages against Croatia, Mexico, and Cameroon.
- Julio Cesar, 35, playing on loan for TorontoFC (MLS-USA) will be Brazil’s number one once again in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. This is his third World Cup after being a reserve in 2006, then the number one in South Africa 2010, and while he made saves to keep Brazil in the matches, many Brazilians will remember him failing to clear away a shot in Brazil’s 2-1 loss to the Dutch, knocking the Brazilians out of a chance to raise the cup. Cesar spent 7 years with Inter Milan (Italy) and along with Buffon were the only two keepers named as finalist for the Ballon d’Or. He was given the Golden Glove in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. After his time in Milan, he made a move to Queens Park Rangers (England) where he played in 27 matches, but after their relegation we saw him move to TorontoFC where he is currently on loan. At the time of this writing he has played all six matches with TorontoFC where he is 3-3, giving up 7 goals on 22 shots for a 1.17 GAA, and 2 shutouts. I believe that Julio Cesar’s greatest asset to this Brazilian team is his leadership ability on and off of the field, plus the fact that this is his third World Cup will bring even more leadership as he carries the burden of protecting the goal in his country. He does well to be a shot stopper, relies on his hands versus boxing away balls. He has the trust in his hand and is proactive in reading the game, coming far off his line to collect services before forwards get to them. The biggest weakness I see for Cesar is the fact that he is a Brazilian goalkeeper, and if the Brazilians win, well everyone will remember who scored the goals, and if they lose, well all the blame will be put on Cesar for allowing the goal. He wears Reusch gloves despite Brazil being a Nike sponsored squad. Some highlights of Cesar can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rijKMtyDtXE
- Diego Alves , 28, despite his thoughts (see a little later) I pick him to be the number two for Brazil behind Cesar. Will he be the heir apparent, or spend his time as a back-up to this year’s starter, and then helping bring in the future Brazilian goalkeeper? Alves currently plays for Valencia (Spain) with possible links to replace Valdes at Barcelona He made his senior national team appearance in November 2011 with a 2-0 win over Gabon. He has made seven international appearances for the senior team. An area of strength for Alves is his Penalty Saving expertise where he has 13 saves in 27 shots (48%) almost 1 out of every two shots he is saving in La Liga, stuffing the likes Ronaldo and Messi, makes you do a double take. At this time playing in La Liga he is the only Brazilian goalkeeper playing in a major European League. This top level play has not gone unnoticed by Alves, who stated, “The goalkeeper position is sometimes very linked to other factors than pitch performances,” Alves reckons. “I respect Scolari’s choice, although I must say it was a bit puzzling to be left out.” Even as I pick him to be the number 2, Alves doesn’t share the same optimism. “There a lot of great goalkeepers in Brazil at the moment,” he notes. “We might not have a lot of guys playing in Europe now because Brazilian football has more competitive wages now. For me, however, coming to Europe was a huge technical and personal leap. I don’t think I will be picked for the World Cup and I wish all the guys the best of luck. They deserve it.”( http://www.espnfc.com/blog/_/name/futebolbrasil/id/1007?cc=5901
The weaknesses pointed out for him is his positioning in the goal. Sometimes he doesn’t hold as well as you would think he should, but again he’s in the La Liga and I’m writing this article right now. Alves wears Reusch gloves just like Cesar.
- Just like many other squads including my Yanks, there are three possible folks for the third roster spot, and maybe two of them make the roster with Alves as the odd man out, which would leave me scratching my bald goalkeeper head, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Jefferson (Age-31) Botafogo (Brazil) (wearing Nike Gloves, and another brand that I had not seen before) and his nine international appearances may give him the nod ahead of Victor (Age-31) Atletico Mineiro (Brazil) (wears Adidas gloves) 6 international appearances, and Diego Cavalieri (Age-31) Palmeiras (Brazil) (Reusch gloves, but I also saw photos of him in Rinat gloves) 3 international appearances, plus Diego holds Italian and Brazilian passports. The interesting fact is all three of the possible threes are 31 and all three play for Brazilian Clubs, so where do we look at the future of Brazil if they don’t bring up a younger keeper, who can get the experience of sitting on the bench for a World Cup in his home country, perhaps Gabriel (24) or Neto (21) who have played for the U-23 team.
Regardless of the goalkeeper, no one except goalkeepers will remember them if they win the Cup, and everyone will know the goal they gave up that cost them the Cup.