Luke Taylor has conducted an interview with South American football expert Paulo Freitas. Paulo is an enthusiast of Brazilian and Latin American football and shares this through his Twitter and his writing. He is a Sky Sports News correspondent and Brazil’s head researcher for Football Manager. He also writes for JustFootball and SambaFootEn.
Why did you get into Brazilian and Southern American football?
R: I am Brazilian, so I started liking Brazilian and South American football at the same time I became a football fan.
What makes South American football so good?
R: Football came to South America very early with the immigrants and British workers, giving South American football almost as much time as European football had to evolve.
Who would you say are the 3 brightest Brazilian stars and why?
R: Neymar is very complete and versatile although a bit selfish, Oscar too very complete, good mentality and very versatile too. Thiago Silva is one of the best defenders of the world and also is very complete and has a good mentality.
The World Cup will be hosted in Brazil next year, who do you think will be the strongest team to win it?
R: I expect Spain or Germany to win. They have both the experience and the quality to win, and they have a big advantage in that many of their
Do Brazil have a chance of winning the World Cup in their home country? Are they strong enough to oversee other international opponents?
R: Brazil’s home advantage will help the Seleção a bit, but as history shows, you need more than that to win the title. Brazil’s squad still lacks maturity to win a World Cup, and Scolari is not the wisest manager.
Do you think Brazilian football leagues could become some of the best in the world?
R: I think it will become eventually, but it will take 20-30 years or so at least. Although many players are coming, Brazil still export too many players, as the recent rumors (Paulinho, Bernard, etc…) show.
For novices of the Brazilian leagues, could you give us an outline of the football there? Players to watch, best teams, underdogs and even stadiums.
R: The best players are Bernard and Ronaldinho (Atlético Mineiro), Dedé (Cruzeiro), Fred (Fluminense) and Paulinho (Corinthians). Corinthians, Atlético Mineiro, Cruzeiro, São Paulo and Fluminense are the best teams, while Botafogo could be considered the underdogs, Seedorf has been doing great for them.
Maracanã (in Rio) is the most famous stadium, but the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte and the Morumbi in São Paulo are also big and famous stadiums.
South American football is very passionate, but which part would you say has the most passion within?
R: Despite the clichés, Brazilians are not the most passionate in South America, Uruguayans and Argentinians are far more passionate while Brazilians often only support their teams when the teams are winning. Argentinians and Uruguayans, on the other hand, often support their teams during the whole game, no matter the score.
Which South American team is the best and why?
R: Corinthians are on paper the best one, but all the best teams are from Brazil although Newell’s from Argentina and Vélez (also from Argentina) are good teams too.
In the future, which South American team could become the best out of the lot?
R: Corinthians and Flamengo are the clubs with most potential due to having the biggest fanbases in the region, many in Brazil fear they will dominate football in the country like Barcelona and Real Madrid do in Spain.
Which part of South America has the best fans?
R: Argentina have the best fans, they chant the whole game, and are loyal to their teams, unlike what happens in places like Brazil, where fans are often glory hunters.
The problem though is that hooliganism is also much bigger in Argentina and fans are killed more often than in other countries, although the causes for that situation are not only related to football, as many people join the ultras just to fight.
How does Brazilian football compare to European football?
R: Brazilian football style is far more pragmatic than in Europe, as teams generally focus on counter-attacks and on set pieces to score goals. Thus, the style is very different from the clichés about ‘jogo bonito’ as instead of short passing, teams often have a more direct approach.
The amount of goals per game in Brazil is lower than Italy for that reason, and also because tempo is slower in Brazil. Referees are harsh regarding fouls and so they often stop the game.
Who would you say is the biggest Brazilian flop of all time and why?
R: Robinho is possibly the biggest flop, he had a great start of career at Santos, but his mentality is poor and he forced his way out of Santos to join Real Madrid, before he was ready to play there.
He failed to impress and forced a move again, joining Manchester City but after a good start, he also ended up failing to impress. A move to Milan didn’t help him either and he was overshadowed by Neymar when he was loaned by Manchester City to Santos.
He was originally expected to become the next big Brazilian player after Romário and Ronaldo but could never live up to the expectations and has become a pretty ordinary player, and has already lost his place at the national team.