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Confederations Cup Final: Three Keys for the US vs Brazil



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.


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.


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.

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  1. Tony

    June 27, 2009 at 11:26 pm


    Feilhaber is starting for sure based on Bradley’s comments.

  2. Eric

    June 27, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Are we all reasonably certain Feilhaber starts tomorrow?

  3. adam

    June 27, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Good analysis- maybe Dempsey should move back wide to attack them?

  4. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    June 27, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks Joey. Hopefully Bradley won’t be as tactically naive tomorrow as he was last week. I know alot of us, myself included are getting a ton of abuse for our attacks on BB last week but last week we played terribly and showed a lack of tactical awareness on the pitch. The last two games have redeemed us, but we must take the lessons of the first two games of this tournament and learn from them if we are going to be successful next year in the World Cup.

  5. Joey Clams

    June 27, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Nice one, Kartik. I would add that the US should get more out of their dead balls. Donovan’s corners were an improvement against Spain but our free kicks have been atrocious.

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