Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body? I dunno…

5 Jul


The unmistakable sound of blunt knives being sharpened on stone resounded around the world last night to reflect the anguish many felt that Brazil had dared to dump those fun living Colombians out of the World Cup. How dare they?

It seems that the driving force behind this criticism is that they lack flair and imagination. The plan seems to be to get Fred to barge the opposing defence out of the way to make room for Neymar: that’s not good enough. They should play with grace and élan like those dudes did in the 70s, and what’s more, they should play in blue shorts. This team is besmirching my childhood by NOT looking and playing like a mirage from the past – goddam them.

Hang on a minute; let’s just take stock. They have edged past everyone’s favourite hipsters Chile AND Colombia yet are still hammered for lacking flair and an over reliance on Neymar. On the other hand, Germany’s ability to ‘get through’ is praised and respected. There seems to be a collective denial that Germany only squeaked past Algeria and that France decided to indulge in a bout of naval gazing for 90 minutes rather than, you know, attack or anything like that. Germany escapes the ire of most because ‘that’s what they do’. Brazil don’t since they seemingly should have scored shedloads of goals while playing total football.

This seems harsh. It is difficult to say whether this Brazil side has been at their best – maybe this IS their best. And if it is, so what? Why should they have to compete with the sides of the past? It would be an act of cruelty to compare, say, the current Nottingham Forest side with that of the late 1970s. I remain proud of that side’s achievements and don’t expect or demand that the current team live up to them (although that would be nice). What Brazil has done is remain resilient and exciting. Although many didn’t, I quite enjoyed seeing Marcelo hammer the ball out of his own half and into touch while being harassed by numerous Colombian players: this epitomised his sides’s spirit and will to win.

As for the referee, his supposed ‘leniency’ surely contributed to a fantastic, what you might call, ‘old school’ game of football. We’d certainly be moaning more if he was whistle happy and stopping the play every 5 seconds. Besides, James really did impede Neymar for the free kick from which David Luiz smashed it in. Get over it. The notion that James was singled out for ‘treatment’ by Brazil is also a little far-fetched; no more than teams have singled out Messi or indeed, Neymar.

Lucky Brazil? Maybe but it seems churlish to begrudge them that – all teams who progress this far are a little bit lucky. Besides, they’ve progressed this far with Fred in the side: if that doesn’t command your respect then you are a person with a heart of stone.

I can accept the notion that this seleção take a leaf out of the past. YES: they should sport blue shorts. But when it comes to assessing their progress, let the mind do the thinking rather than the body when it comes to Brazil.


2 Responses to “Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body? I dunno…”

  1. Rich Russell July 5, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    Perception is a funny thing isn’t it. I saw this as a game that was stopped every 5 seconds for niggling fouls with very little entertainment value.

    I don’t agree with your take on the expectations of Brazil either. I remember their great sides of the 70s and later. I think that far from being expected to live up to their past, they get away with murder because of it.

    The commentators are falling over themselves to praise anything slightly good. They ignore the fact that they can cheat with the best of them. Their penalty against Croatia must be in the top ten all time blatant dives.

    I don’t expect great things from them because they are no better than most of the other teams at this World Cup. Let’s not pretend that they are.


    • marplesdavid July 5, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

      A fair point, especially regarding how perhaps they receive dispensation from us the football fans and the media since they are, after all, Brazil. Of course the penalty against Croatia was ridiculous but they are not the only team with players who fall over in the box. I agree with you in that they are not an outstanding side, perhaps not even a good side, and without Neymar, perhaps a very very average side, (maybe even bog-standard), and I’m certainly not claiming or pretending that they are. I just felt that their games have been great to watch, that they were dominant against Colombia in the first half and by hook or by crook (many would argue by crook) they have progressed to the semi finals past two excellent teams in the shape of Chile and Colombia; two teams which seem to be supported by many neutrals and maybe this is a factor in why many seem to be sticking the boot into them.
      You are also utterly right in your observation that perception is a funny thing – we all see the game differently and that’s why we love it.

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