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Duarte: Five good things about 2014


Confident Brazil beat fragile France in Paris

Goals from Neymar and Luiz Gustavo led Brazil's second-half charge as the Selecao overcame France on their way to a 3-1 victory.
The ESPN FC crew discuss the difference makers and talking points from Brazil's 3-1 comeback victory over France.

Three thoughts on Brazil's 3-1 win versus France, which saw Oscar, Neymar and Luiz Gustavo answer Raphael Varane's opening goal at Stade de France.

1. In battle of hosts, Brazil look more comfortable

It's a fixture rich in history and, although this friendly meeting between France and Brazil obviously wasn't at the competitive levels of their great clashes of the past, the South American side's 3-1 win was at least rich in incident and entertainment. The visitors were occasionally sparkling, especially...

 By Tim Vickery

Brazil bag biggest victory since 2014's World Cup disaster

Goals from Neymar and Luiz Gustavo led Brazil's second-half charge as the Selecao overcame France on their way to a 3-1 victory.
International Friendly: Neymar goal (57') France 1-2 Brazil
International Friendly: Raphael Varane goal (21') France 1-0 Brazil
International Friendly: Oscar goal (40') France 1-1 Brazil
International Friendly: Luiz Gustavo goal (69') France 1-3 Brazil
International Friendly: Jefferson save (7') France 0-0 Brazil

In itself, that Brazil have preserved a 100 percent record since the World Cup does not tell us very much.

After all, their record going into the tournament could hardly have been much better -- nine straight wins, 30 goals scored, just two conceded -- but it did them little good when the real stuff started.

The seven consecutive victories under Dunga, then, need to be placed in context. The time for hard-and-fast judgments comes later.

But there is no doubt that Brazil can take great heart from...

Pele prefers Messi over Ronaldo, backs Brazil to rebound from World Cup woe

ESPN FC's Alison Bender interviews Pelé, Steve McManaman, and Robbie Fowler ahead of this weekend's crucial Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool.

The last time I saw Edson Arantes do Nascimento was in a cold night in Zurich, ahead of the 2014 Ballon d'Or ceremony. Standing outside the Baur Au Lac Hotel, which traditionally hosts FIFA's executives, I was baffled by how frail the man many Brazilians still refer to as "The King" looked. In fact, that dominated the conversation between the small national press scrum waiting for the triple World Cup winner.

Ten months later, the news of Pelé's admission to hospital with kidney problems...

 By Tim Vickery

Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia seek fixes over international break

Mateo Musacchio has the chance to prove his worth to the Argentine national team during the international break.

Things are about to get serious for South America's national teams. Since the World Cup it's been nothing but friendlies, with plenty of lucrative trips to the Far East. But the next cycle of competitive matches is soon underway; it starts with the Copa America in Chile in June, and continues soon afterwards with the start of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Over the next few days the national teams are in action for the last time before the Copa America squads are announced; suddenly, then, we...

 By James Young

Historical Brazil state championships a drag on rest on of league season

Empty stadiums are the norm during most clubs' state championship campaigns, especially in Rio de Janeiro.

The steep, cramped stands of the Independencia stadium in Belo Horizonte, home of Atletico Mineiro, commonly known as Galo, have witnessed more than a few stirring moments over the past couple of seasons.

There was 2013's thrilling Copa Libertadores run, which included a last-minute, game-saving penalty stop by goalkeeper Victor against Mexico's Tijuana in the quarterfinals, followed by a penalty shootout win over Newell's Old Boys in the semis. And then there was the feverish 2-0 win over hated...

 By Tim Vickery

Brazil's Dunga has interesting options to play with at centre-forward

Philippe Coutinho retained his place in the Brazil squad, while Real Madrid's Marcelo and Santos forward Robinho both earned recalls.
Brazil manager Dunga confirmed Marcelo's return to the International side and explained that the side must remain focussed.
Santos' Robinho, who was spared the embarrassment of taking part in Brazil's calamitous World Cup 2014 campaign, is an interesting option for Dunga going forward.

Robinho gave an interview a few days ago where he gave profuse thanks for being left out of Brazil's World Cup squad. Presumably, though, he is happy to have been named in coach Dunga's group to take on France and Chile later this month.

He was spared the embarrassment of being part of the team that collapsed in such a humiliating fashion to Germany in the World Cup semifinal. But he has a chance to be a part of the group that can reconstruct the image of the Brazilian national team as it builds...