Brazil offer fascinating glimpse into the future
Rio de Janeiro: Brazil coach Mano Menezes offered a fascinating glimpse into the future with the 2-0 friendly win over the U.S. -- and if first impressions count, the team should be entertaining hosts in the 2014 World Cup.
It remains to be seen how many of those who started at the New Meadowlands stadium on Tuesday will be in the team that takes the field for the opening game in Brazil in four years time but the new faces on show certainly played like they were capable of performing on the biggest stage.
None shone more than 18-year-old Neymar, a player who many in Brazil had urged Menezes` predecessor Dunga to take to South Africa this year.
The Santos forward, sporting a spiky Mohican haircut, began on the left wing but floated into the middle when the space opened up and also switched flanks to keep a largely bewildered U.S defence even more befuddled.
The slightly built Neymar`s superbly taken header to open the scoring was an illustration that as well as superb control and energetic pace, he also has the striker`s ability to convert chances however they may fall to him.
Nothing is certain in football but few would bet against Neymar being a well known name, with one of Europe`s top clubs, by the time the next World Cup comes around and he certainly is not short of confidence.
"I had some nerves early on, with this being my debut," he told reporters, "But it got easier when the ball began to roll and of course the goal settled me," he said.
Likewise it is hard to imagine playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso not going on from his impressive debut to make his mark on the international scene.
He may look like a scrawny schoolkid but Ganso, another from the current outstanding crop at Santos, put the most famous shirt in football -- the gold and green one with number 10 on the back -- and delivered a performance that was as notable for its calm composure as for its technical proficiency.
Real Madrid`s Kaka, out with injury, is the current owner of Pele`s old jersey, but he will need to get back to his very best to fend off the challenge from Ganso who is very much an enabling playmaker, prompting others and opening up spaces.
But he also possesses a wicked shot as he showed when he hit the post from 25 metres out against the Americans.
"The (number 10) jersey is certainly a heavy one in terms of responsibility but it is up to me now to go away and work hard and try to earn another call-up," he said.
With Pato close to his lively best in attack, after a season plagued by injury and Robinho showing signs of his quality as well, Menezes` new team, featuring just four players who were in South Africa, already looks to be taking shape and certainly has indicated it`s character.
"Personality is not something you can really give a team," said Menezes after the game, "Either you have it or you don`t. This performance was a sign that they have it," he said.