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Confederations Cup Final: Not Simply a Game

charlie davies scores aga 0011 300x180 Confederations Cup Final: Not Simply a Game

The US National Team often times has to fight a two front war for recognition: the first is against an indifferent domestic sporting press and the second is against a downright hostile foreign football press. As the US fights for respect in the football world, and with it the ability to move American players to better clubs, results are important but the way we play is perhaps more so.

The American press and sporting culture is results driven. For that segment of skeptic that has suddenly discovered football in the last 72 hours, the US must win today’s final against Brazil. For the euro skeptic and foreign sporting press a good show will do the trick, although style points matter. Sticking nine men behind the ball and defending generally does not win you any love in the football press unless you are Chelsea and their millions of dollars spent on transfers and you play the role of David against big bad Goliath Barcelona.

As we discussed yesterday, Brazil’s weakness is down their left side and since Dunga likes to rely on counter attacking, Brazil no longer controls possession for long stretches of matches against better opposition. This will allow the US midfielders and attackers to make a strong statement to potential suitors at European clubs.

Again here are our three keys to playing Brazil:

ATTACK THE LEFT SIDE

The left side is where you attack Brazil. Under Dunga, Brazil essentially plays without a left sided midfielder.  The left back position for the Brazilians has been a similarly problematic as it has been for the United States. Andres Santos and Klebar are both below the acceptable standard and we saw Dani Alves inserted on the left side late against South Africa despite being right footed.

Brazil’s midfield is stacked towards the right side leaving Robinho, a forward with poor defensive instincts (I can attest to this as a Man City supporter) to track back to provide cover for the left back.

In the first game the US did not exploit this weakness once until perhaps minute 85 or so when Jonathan Spector made a nice run up the right flank and setup Benny Feilhaber’s shot that went off the crossbar. Brazil was already leading 3-0 at the time.

While Cint Dempsey is more comfortable in the middle he and Landon Donovan need to drift right regularly to attack Brazil’s weakness. It may also be worthwhile to start Charlie Davies as the right forward and let him push wide on the right side as he did on the left flank against Spain. This tactical move by Bradley helped to open up the Spanish defense in the first 10 minutes Wednesday and a similar move could be repeated on Sunday.

DEFEND THE COUNTER ATTACK

Under Dunga, Brazil doesn’t play the typical Brazilian style of patient, pretty build up in the midfield. Instead Brazil tends to bunker early and then hit teams pushed up on the counter attack. We saw this against Italy as the Azzuri, notoriously slow starters actually controlled the first 25 minutes of the match but then were beat several times on quick counters.

Brazil’s lightning quick speed on a counter attack was evidenced by the US on the second goal last week when DaMarcus Beasley’s infamous giveaway led to a jailbreak of Brazilian attackers and the US defenders were caught flat footed and out of position.

Committing too many men to the attack and on set pieces can be deadly against Dunga’s Brazil.

KEEP ORGANIZED AT THE BACK

As my colleague Daniel Feuerstein has pointed out in his article on the Brazil-US series, the matches have generally been competitive and spirited. The most notable exception was last week’s embarrassment.

But in previous meetings under US coaches Bora Milutinovic, Steve Sampson and Bruce Arena the US tended to selectively go forward against Brazil and rely on proper spacing and organization at the back to compete.

As we’ve pointed out this Brazilian squad is very different. They don’t constantly pressure the ball or keep possession. That makes them no less formidable as an attacking side however.

That’s it for now. Follow me on twitter at kkfla737 or Brian Zygo at bzygo for live updates during the day. Tonight sometime around 9pm ET look for a full post match wrap up podcast, featuring our usually array of guest talent.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

11 Responses to Confederations Cup Final: Not Simply a Game

  1. quakesin2kNever says:

    Good call on the Brazilian counter attack. It is devastating. I am worried for our guys in the midfield getting caught in possession and getting countered quickly.

  2. Yeah, Quakes- hope we learned our lesson that second goal last time we played them.

  3. Lars says:

    If the United States can win this game, it will be a watershed moment in American Sports history. I’m cheering for the US tonight as a Canadian sports fan as a win here is a coup not just for America, or North America but for the entirity of CONCACAF and the game globally. Major League Soccer and USL-1 are probably praying for a US win right now as it will spark major interest in the game in North America…

  4. Lars- right on. I actually spoke to a USL-1 club official who told me they have seen a massive surge in interest on their website since Wednesday. I’m sure the same can be said for the rest of USL-1 and MLS.

  5. Lars says:

    Have to start walking to the Soccer Pub, takes an hour to get there. I’ll be joining you folks online after the game for more commentary. Keep up the good work. I’ve been linking this site to just about every football fan I know.

  6. BTW, Lars I’ll be covering the Canadian Nat’l Team during the Gold Cup. Any thing in specific you want me to focus on. They will be in Miami for the final group game.

  7. Joey Clams says:

    Lars’ sentiments are noble. But as a US fan, I only care about what our games mean to us. I’d cheer for Canada. And I do cheer for Mexico, when not cursing them. But I don’t do so hoping that by carrying the Concacaf banner well they serve us. I do so just because I want to on the day.

  8. Lars says:

    Well Joey, I’ve been on here for several months now, and in case you haven’t noticed, I could really care less about your insular view on football.

    Thank you Kartik for offering to do that. I’m talking to some of the Voyageurs and trying to find something that suits a group of us. It should get you some more readers and hits on this page, which I hope helps with the advertising dollars…

  9. Joey Clams says:

    Gee, Lars, you’ve ruined my night. Thank you for reminding me in such a polite way what I should do and why I should do it.

    Back to the Colombian final before a Narragansett and a Cheever short story before bed.

    I hope that’s cool enough for you, Lars.

    Marone. Not even honesty is appreciated with these fucking Canucks.

  10. Lars says:

    Kartik,

    After consultation with some of the Voyageur’s, we’d like to be able to see what happens at the Canadian practices, and perhaps get a behind the scenes look at the team. I’d personally like to see coverage on Canada’s players who are capped for the first time at the Senior level in a competitive game.

    I have a source for the practices and such, if you need one, contact me via my email registered with this site. If you can access that, let me know.

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