Monday, 30 July 2012

Ramires Recalled to Brazil Squad for Sweden Friendly

Brazil's Olympic campaign may only be two games old, but that hasn't prevented Mano Menezes from naming his squad for the friendly against Sweden on 15 August. The main headline is the return of Ramires, who has been missing from the seleção since his involvement in the 2011 Copa América.



The full squad is as follows:

Neto (Fiorentina)
Renan Ribeiro (Atlético Mineiro)
Gabriel (Milan)

Rafael (Manchester United)
Danilo (Porto)
Daniel Alves (Barcelona)
Alex Sandro (Porto)
Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain)
David Luiz (Chelsea)
Juan (Internazionale)
Dedé (Vasco da Gama)
Bruno Uvini (São Paulo)

Rômulo (Spartak Moscow)
Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur)
Ramires (Chelsea)
Oscar (Chelsea)
Paulinho (Corinthians)
Paulo Henrique Ganso (Santos)
Lucas (São Paulo)

Neymar (Santos)
Jonas (Valencia)
Alexandre Pato (Milan)
Leandro Damião (Internacional)
Hulk (Porto)

The squad remains largely unchanged from that competing at London 2012, then, with the notable additions of Jonas, Paulinho, Dedé, Ramires and Daniel Alves. Young goalkeeper Renan Ribeiro, who is currently on stand-by for the Olympic squad after Rafael's injury, has been drafted into the squad proper, whilst Marcelo is granted a rest.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Oscar Winners: Why Chelsea Are Chasing Brazil's Latest Sensation

One of the best players in Brazil over the last year, Oscar has shot to international prominence over the last few weeks due to his proposed transfer to Chelsea. With that deal looking increasingly likely (Internacional president Giovanni Luigi admitted that a verbal agreement is in place between the two clubs), it appears that English football fans will get a first hand look the man who looks set to make Brazil's No.10 his own over the next decade.



I've written a profile of Oscar for the lovely folks at Life's a Pitch, in which I discuss his strengths and how he may be used by Roberto Di Matteo.

To read the piece, click here.

(Photo credit: Alexandro Auler/Latin Content/Getty Images.)

Saturday, 14 July 2012

São Paulo's Ferrari: On Manchester United Target Lucas

São Paulo flyer Lucas has long since attracted covetous glances from Europe's big boys, but things got real this week; Manchester United made a €33million bid for the 19-year-old.



With a maelstrom of questions and YouTube-based opinions looming ominously on the horizon, I've written a profile of the young forward for Unibet. I've attempted to elucidate some of his strengths and weaknesses, based on what I've seen over the last couple of years.

To read the article, click here.

(Please excuse the crushingly generic picture that accompanies the article and join me in bemoaning the extortionate cost of buying photographs for editorial use.)

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Against History: Corinthians Win First Libertadores

After a gruelling half-century wait, Corinthians finally shook a monkey off their back this week by sealing their maiden Copa Libertadores title. A thoroughly impressive campaign was wrapped up in style in Wednesday's 2-0 win over Boca Juniors, prompting feverish celebrations in São Paulo.


I've written an article about the Timão's success - and its significance - in my weekly Unibet column. To read it, click here.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Menezes Names Olympic Squad

Mano Menezes today unveiled the 18-man squad that he hopes will guide Brazil to a maiden Olympic title in London this summer. The core of the U20 World Cup-winning side remains in place, while the three players over the age of 23 are Thiago Silva, Marcelo and Hulk.


The full squad is as follows:

Rafael (Santos)
Neto (Fiorentina)

Rafael (Manchester United)
Danilo (Porto)
Alex Sandro (Porto)
Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Thiago Silva (Milan)
Bruno Uvini (São Paulo)
Juan (Internazionale)

Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur)
Rômulo (Vasco da Gama)
Oscar (Internacional)
Paulo Henrique Ganso (Santos)
Lucas (São Paulo)

Neymar (Santos)
Leandro Damião (Internacional)
Hulk (Porto)
Alexandre Pato (Milan)

With major question marks over the ability of young centre-backs Bruno Uvini and Juan, Menezes had hoped to call on David Luiz to partner Thiago Silva. The Chelsea man has been carrying an injury since the end of the European season, however, so Hulk claimed the third overage spot.

Menezes will be confident that this group of players - who impressed in the recent friendlies against Denmark, USA, Mexico and Argentina - will be strong enough to compete in London. The squad certainly boasts plenty of talent and, in Thiago, Marcelo, Hulk and Pato, a wealth of experience as well.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Bleed for Victory: Leão Start Pioneering Donation Drive

In the über-branded football world of today, it has become all too rare for a club exploit its image for good. How heartwarming, then, to see the trend being bucked in the Brazilian second division this week.

Esporte Clube Vitória - a club whose size and popularity are belied by their Série B status - have come up with an ingenious way to encourage their fans to give blood. The club are temporarily removing the colour red from their famous rubro-negro jerseys - quite a big deal, given that teams are often referred to colloquially by the colours of their strip in Brazil.  The Leão da Barra will then 'refill' the shirts one hoop at a time as blood donations are made over the course of the season. (See 0:50 in the video below.)

The campaign, launched in partnership with Hemoba, the Bahia state blood foundation, is entitled Meu Sange é Rubro-Negro (My Blood is Red and Black). "Vitória has always bled for you," urges the video. "Now it's time to give back."

Here's to other clubs following in Vitória's pioneering footsteps.



A version of this article appeared in FourFourTwo magazine. Hat-tip to André Savastano for alerting me to the campaign.

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