Pele believes Brazil’s lack of “ginga” — individual flair — has allowed the Selecao’s South American rivals to surpass them in playing “beautiful soccer.”
In an interview with ESPN FC’s David Hirshey, Pele said Brazil are still haunted by the 7-1 defeat at Germany in the World Cup semifinals as they prepare for this summer’s dual tests of the Copa America Centenario and the Olympics.
” I am sad just talking about it,” Pele said while promoting his new film “Pele: Birth of a Legend.”
“I cried watching that game and not just because of the score. I cried because I do not know what happened to the joy of Brazilian football.
“Maybe this summer in the Olympics and Copa America, we can remind the world of how Brazil plays soccer, but it will not be easy. I fear we have lost our way.”
Brazil followed up their World Cup humiliation by losing in the 2015 Copa America quarterfinals to Paraguay on penalties for the second straight edition of the tournament.
A 7-1 loss would have been unthinkable in Pele’s day, and the former star conceded that Brazil are no longer the most creative team on their own continent.
“There is no ginga,” Pele said, using the Portuguese word for “sway” that came to describes the flowing creativity Pele used to win the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
“Other South American countries like Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador now play more beautiful soccer than Brazil and you see what happens in the last two Copa Americas. We lose to Paraguay on penalties!”
Pele also criticised current Brazil coach Dunga and his predecessor Luiz Felipe Scolari for selecting teams greatly lacking in ginga.
“Myself, Gerson, Rivelino, and Tostao were all No. 10s and yet [then-coach Mario] Zagallo wanted us all on the field at the same time so he created a formation that could accommodate us,” Pele said.
“Then in Japan [at the 2002 World Cup], we had Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and Rivaldo who all had great flair and we won again. But today we have a coach who doesn’t care about individual expression.”
Pele believes Neymar — who was injured and missed the Germany defeat in 2014 — is the only current player with ginga, though the Barcelona forward will skip the Copa America before returning for the Olympics.
“Neymar cannot do it alone,” Pele said. “You saw what happened in the World Cup when he couldn’t play against Germany.”
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