The Olympics are here, and with it Brazil’s last chance to win something before the 2018 World Cup.
Apologies for not getting any new articles up since June. I blame Life, that mischievous bastard.
There’s been a lot of discussion about how much or how little the Olympics matter. I fall very much on the “they DO matter” side of the scale. Part of it is due to growing up in America, I’m sure, where the Olympics have traditionally been a source of national pride and attention – although that tradition seems to be fading somewhat.
But part of it is due to the Brazilian heritage that led me to become a Brazil fan in the first place. I remember how crushing it felt when Brazil lost to Nigeria in ’96 – it felt like the worst thing that could possibly happen. (Ah, the naivete of youth!) I remember the anger I felt four years ago. When you feel such intense, negative emotions in regards to losing something, it’s only natural that you’d feel such intense hunger to finally win that same thing.
But honestly, my interest in these particular Olympics has less to do with heritage or with history, but with the future. As you know, I’ve become a committed apostle of the Long View. Short term results just don’t matter that much to me at this point unless they are part of a long-term process. I want Brazil to build a dynasty again – not even necessarily a dynasty built on winning, like we saw in the ’90s, but a dynasty built on superior technique, team interplay, and a philosophy based less on grinding out wins but on relentlessly attacking the opposition into submission. (Without sacrificing defensive structure or the rigors of a modern system of play.)
From everything Rogerio Micale has said, he wants something very similar to what I want. And that’s why I care about these Olympics. I want Brazil to win the gold, of course, but which particular element on the Periodic Table we’re awarded is secondary to this:
- I want to see Micale back up his words with actual deeds on the pitch. In other words, Micale has talked the talk, but can he walk the walk? Is his coaching as good as his press conferences?
- Assuming #1 happens, I want to see Micale’s vision validated. A Gold Medal in and of itself means little; a Gold Medal that affirms Micale’s philosophy in the hearts and minds of the Brazilian people, players, and fellow managers is far more important.
To put it simply, these Olympics serve as a chance to lay a new foundation. Is the competition of high quality? No. Are the Olympics given much credence in the wider footballing world? No. Do the Olympics mean more than a Copa America or a World Cup? Of course not.
But (and I recognize it’s a large “but”, with the Tite-shaped question mark looming in the background) if the Olympics point the way forward to something bigger, something better, something long term…then they have my full and undivided attention.
Anyway, that was all a long-winded lead-up to the point of this post, which is that you can use it as a discussion thread for the first match against South Africa. (And while you’re waiting for the match to start, check out the article I wrote four years ago on Brazil vs Nigeria from the ’96 Olympics.)