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Brazil of legends

Rashneel Kumar
Sunday, July 06, 2014

THERE is at least one thing I have learnt after Brazil's 2-1 win over Colombia in the 2014 World Cup quarter-final yesterday.

That most of my friends on Facebook are Brazil and Neymar fans. The latter is common among the women.

Given its popularity and past records, Brazil has a huge fan following around the globe. They have produced football legends in Pele, Ronaldo and now Neymar who are worshipped by most of football fans.

In Fiji, Brazil probably has the most number of fans, kids to adults alike, the Selecao are favourites among the locals.

My good friend Freddy posted an interesting status on Facebook which started with "Are Brazil the All Blacks of football, or are the All Blacks the Brazil of rugby". It went on explaining the names of the players and what they may be called in a different language.

For example, he wrote "Thiago" is the Portuguese equivalent of the Spanish name "Diego" and the English equivalent of "Maria" is "Mary". Someone commented "Vinaka Fredricko".

As the host of this World Cup, Brazil was placed on top along the other powerhouses to win the tournament.

They fought their way through to the semis but the battle against the Colombians may have done enough damage to the side.

Brazil's poster boy Neymar is ruled out for four to six weeks because of a broken vertebra. The tackle by Colombia's Juan Zuniga in the dying stages of the match was a nasty one but the latter told the media it wasn't intentional.

Thiago Silva is also out of semi-final after collecting successive yellow cards.

It will be interesting to see Brazil's Plan B, what game plan will Luiz Felipe Scolari bring out against Germany which defeated France 1-0 in the other quarters.

Kudos to the Colombians, they fought tooth and nail and almost scored the equaliser.

Great sportsmanship from Brazil's David Luiz who went to console Colombia star player James Rodriguez after the match.

Don't know what Luiz said to him but surely something that the "man-size talent who wrote his name in very large letters in this World Cup" deserves.

Hope Netherlands and Argentina win today.

Off the field, CBC Sports picks top three wonder kids, looking to leave Brazil with the Young Player Award and a World Cup medal.

Paul Pogba (France)

The closest thing I've seen to Patrick Vieira since the elegant French midfielder hung up his boots three years ago. Like his mentor, Pogba is tall, rangy and powerful, both in the air and on the ground. He has a good change of pace and a well-tuned engine which effortlessly gets him from box to box.

Pogba encapsulates the new generation of French swagger unburdened by the infamous players' rebellion of 2010. He's both a defensive competitor and offensive creator but must guard against being over-aggressive. He's well equipped to be France's midfield general for the next 10 years but doesn't need a reputation that referees are keen to punish.

Memphis Depay (Netherlands)

The super-sub of this World Cup. In a team that features Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, merely getting minutes is no minor feat. What you do with those brief cameos is up to the individual. Get up to speed with the game and then make a difference.

Depay has done that. He's like a greyhound waiting to be unleashed. In just 97 minutes of work over three games, Depay has scored two goals and added an assist for the Dutch cause. He's an impactful winger who loves to drift inside when the moment presents itself. His Brazilian adventure may have some way to run.

Raphael Varane (France)

Any successful team has a strong spine. An agile goalkeeper, a reliable central defender, a visionary midfielder, and a predatory striker are all essential ingredients. Varane has proved himself that defensive rock not bad for a 21-year-old who has yet to fully establish himself at Spanish giant Real Madrid.

Varane does more than merely read the game well. In a position where a player is occasionally forced to "take one for the team", his timing has been impeccable. Up to and including the Round of 16 win over the speedy Nigerians, Varane had not committed a single foul. For a centre back, it doesn't get any better than that.

There are many other youngsters who have caught the eye. Colombia's Juan Quintero, England's Raheem Sterling and and Belgian Divock Origi all deserve honourable mentions. Here's hoping we can sit back, relax and let them entertain us for years to come.

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