World Cup Player to Watch: Part Seven
Brazil – Lucio
As the focus is always on the ultra-skilled attacking players of the Brazilian side, their defense rarely gets talked about. Lucio (his full name is Lucimar Ferreira da Silva) is Brazil’s best defender and one of the world’s greatest stoppers. He plays his club football for Bayern Munich and is a veteran of the national team having played every minute of the 2002 World Cup.
The Brazilian defense is often criticized and former national team defender Roque Junior reportedly got so fed up during the 2005 Confederations Cup that he angrily confronted one of the country’s best-known television commentators after a practice session. I think some of the criticism is unwarranted as there is no defense that is consistently unbreachable but if there is a weak point of the Brazil team, it is on the defensive side of the ball. However, when the Samba Boys are knocking the ball around with impunity, getting it off of them to create an attack can be a mammoth task.
In the past Lucio was considered a loose cannon after being involved in bust-ups with teammates on several occasions but that attitude seems to be behind him and he has quietly become the rock that steadies the Brazilian defense. He is the prototype for a modern centre-back, a blend of size and skill that few in the world can rival. His vision on the ball is exceptional and though he has been prone to the occasional defensive lapse, this has diminished as he has gained experience. Lucio and his partner Juan have a huge task on his hands keeping the Brazilian defense solid as there are concerns about the age of Cafu and Roberto Carlos.