RIO DE JANEIRO -- At some point in our footballing lives, we've all been part of that "magic." At sometime in our lives we were Brazilians, through a field, a ball, 11 players and some geniuses dressed in shorts and clad in leather soccer shoes. We've all been Brazilians at one time or another.
The Brazilian in all of us.
I still remember that package wrapped in brown paper that my father handed me on my fifth birthday. I made him travel hundreds of kilometers away from one village to another in search of that whim -- for my dream -- that that boy (who was me) had: the "verdeamerella" shirt with the 10 on the back, belonging to "O Rei" Pele, the one which I carried with pride in the neighborhood, the one with which I identified myself above the others, the one I never took off even to sleep. I was also Brazilian once, many times, throughout my life.
Who hasn't been a Brazilian at least once in their life? Who was unable to let themselves be seduced by the legendary touches that those figures gave the ball. From Garrincha's dribbling to Didi's ability. From the national team of '70 to Brazil '82, that played by note and did not win. From Pele to Ronaldo, from Ronaldo to Romario, from Romario back to Zico and to Sócrates. From the historic Zagallo to some great figures who flooded the Mexican fields, who gave life, inspiration and magic to our soccer: Cabinho, "El Tuca", Batata, Donizete, "Tita", Zizinho, Bahia, Santos, Eusebio, Nene, Yahir, Amaral, Sinha, Dirceu and many more. So who? Who hasn't been a Brazilian at one time or another?
Or perhaps when the Mexican national team reached the limit of its possibilities and the Brazilian national team always appeared like a refuge in our heart. A second flag to wave for, a second "football country" that never let us down. Brazil was there for us, ready, open, loving as ever to embrace us with its glorious heat.
The World Cup opens this Thursday in the country that transformed the game of soccer into a "Jogo bonito." In them, in the creators, the inventors and in the producers of the art transformed into soccer, will much of the pressure and the obligation of this World Cup be deposited. The problem is that this Brazil is hard-pressed and urgently needs to validate their condition as the protagonist in football. and in order to achieve this, by any means, it might even betray the ideals that have historically accompanied its game.
A year ago, when they won the Confederations Cup, crushing Spain at the Maracana, Brazil used other types of arguments that don't seem in keeping with what their shirt and their spirit proclaim. With Neymar at the front as a great media and marketing figure and after a season of ups and downs in Barcelona whose final outcome ended in failure, today Brazil has a national team that bases much of its aspirations on the collective game, on the strength of its defense, in the generating capacity of its fullbacks -- Marcelo and Dani Alves -- and on the youth of a midfield that shares the obligations. Brazil is not what it was before and to top it off, it has the emotional burden of a nation that wants to avenge what happened 64 years ago in the mythical and tragic "Maracanazo."
The World Cup begins in just a few hours and it does so in the context of a nation vibrant in rhythms, color and passion and does it in a land that knows football, beautiful football, the art of football, the magic of football. The risk we run is that Brazil may set aside those characteristics or ideals to try to win.
In any case, the context is ideal, precise and timely for us to bring out the Brazilian in all of us.