Brazil won’t make drastic changesComment on this story
BRASïLIA – Amid the calls for swingeing changes at all levels of Brazilian football, the reality is that Neymar and other members of the squad that failed so spectacularly at the World Cup will still have an international future.
And Brazil will not have long to wait for a shot at redemption, with the Copa America in Chile to come next year and the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 before the next World Cup in Russia in 2018.
Since last Tuesday's record-breaking 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany in Belo Horizonte, the country's President Dilma Rousseff and Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo have led the calls for major structural changes to avoid a repeat in future.
Romario, in the 1994 World Cup winning Brazil side and now a politician, has called for an inquest into what went wrong while also insisting that most of the players involved against Germany should never represent their country again.
“From a group of players that lose 7-1 and suffer such embarrassment, normally 80 percent of them should never wear the national team shirt again,” he said.
“Although they are not the only guilty ones, they can't pull on the shirt again. They will forever be scarred.”
In contrast, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari claims that “12, 13 or 14” members of what he calls a young squad this year will still be around when Brazil make a new attempt to win a sixth World Cup in Russia.
With an average age of almost 28, this Brazil squad can hardly be considered young but, nevertheless, Scolari is probably not too far off the mark.
Indeed, the spine of the current side may well remain unchanged, with Neymar, who will be 26 in four years time, leading the attack while captain Thiago Silva, who will be 33, could have another World Cup in him.
The likes of David Luiz, Luiz Gustavo and Oscar should survive too, and the initial changes to the playing squad will probably be gradual, regardless of who is in charge.
This is the end of the road at international level for goalkeeper Julio Cesar, while right-back Daniel Alves and much-maligned striker Fred, as well as fringe players including Maxwell and Jo, will be pushed out too.
But the Brazilian Football Confederation must make changes at grassroots level while also ensuring that the full national team remains competitive going into the Copa America in Chile in June next year.
Winning Olympic gold, something Brazil has never done, at home in 2016 would go some small way towards exorcising the ghost of this year's disaster.
However, that is an under-23 tournament with room for just three overage players and captain Silva believes it would be dangerous to use the Copa America as a warm-up for Rio 2016.
“The competition is important. There will be Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and Chile, who will be at home,” he said. “That shows how big the competition is and how much it has grown.
“It depends on your point of view, and that of the coach, whether he wants to put out a team thinking about the Olympics. But if that happened, a lot of people would say he went into it knowing he was going to lose.”
As Brazil look to bolster their squad in the short-term, experienced defenders Joao Miranda and Filipe Luis, who helped Atletico Madrid reach this year's Champions League final, could come back into the reckoning.
And younger names such as Paris Saint-Germain duo Marquinhos and Lucas Moura and Liverpool attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho may give the squad a much-needed boost.
Either way, Brazil need look no further than the Germans for inspiration as they turn to the future.
After all, Germany's superb team of today was born at the 2006 World Cup.
Then, as hosts, they also suffered an agonising defeat in the semi-finals, against Italy, before finishing third by beating Scolari's Portugal side.
Since then, they have been runners-up at Euro 2008, and semi-finalists at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, before reaching the final in Brazil. – Sapa-AFP