Posted on August 12, 2012
By Michael Lewis
LONDON — There is no middle ground when it comes to Brazilian international soccer.
You are either a champion or a failure. A good effort doesn’t count and a poor or mediocre one is even worse.
The Brazilians were not in the best of form in their 2-1 defeat to Mexico in the Olympic men’s soccer gold medal match at Wembley on Saturday. They surrendered the first goal with the game 29 seconds old and were forced to chase the game.
Of all the major soccer champions in the world, the Olympic championship has become the most elusive to the South Americans.
“You can see from the look on my face what my feelings are,” Brazil coach Mano Menezes said. “I’m very sad. We did some excellent work in the tournament, but it wasn’t enough.”
Excellent for the first for games, when Brazil was scoring three goals n a regular basis while going unbeaten and untied in those matches.
The Brazilians have earned three silver medals — the others in 1984 and 1988 — and two bronze medals — in 1996 and 2008.
“Again we came close but didn’t quite get it,” Menezes said. “I’m forced to conclude that we’re missing something in our under-23 structure.”
There has been speculation that failing to win the gold could cost Menezes his job. Menezes is using the core of this team to for the 2014 World Cup, which Brazil will host.
“Any coach must be ready to suffer the consequences of results,” he said.
Menezes has two years to get the Brazilian national side into shape.
“We will continue on our path towards the next world cup and now call into play the main Brazil team,” he said. “The World Cup in 2014 remains our goal.
“I do not think this defeat will have a negative impact on the maturing process towards 2014. Quite the opposite, you learn from defeat.”
There is much to learn, including not infighting on the field. After Rafael was stripped by Javier Aquino of the ball that led to Oribe Peralta’s first goal in the opening minute, teammate Juan Jesus argued with him.
“I had a fight with Rafael after he lost the ball and they scored from it,” Jesus said. “So we said some words to each other in the heat of the moment.
“But it is over now, and we have help to each other.”
Neymar, the Brazilians’ most dangerous player, rarely was a factor.
“Everybody knows the finals are won in the little details,” he said. “Mexico today were better than us at that and that’s why they won.
“There is no point in us regretting about the chances we’ve missed in those 90 minutes. It’s too late for that.”
According to some Brazilian journalists, the players were too arrogant and too confident entering the gold-medal match.
None of the players talked about that, but they realized the squandered a great opportunity to put what has to be called an Olympic gold medal jinx behind them.
“It was a very difficult match and this is a very tough moment for all of us,” Marcello said.
Added Thiago Silva: “What we have to do is somehow get through this bad moment. Life doesn’t end here.”
Photo: Neymar did not make much of an impact in Brazil’s gold-medal loss to Mexico. Andy Mead
Categories: Mexico, North America, Olympic Qualifying
Tags: 2012 London Olympics, Javier Aquino, Juan Jesus, Mano Menezes, Neymar, Oribie Peralta, Rafael