Brazil Bottles the Penalty Shootout

18 Jul

Shambolic, catastrophic, embarrassing, shocking, unprecedented, entertaining, humorous – all accurate descriptions of Brazil’s role in the penalty shootout with Paraguay last night. In becoming the first team in history to miss every spot kick in a Copa America shootout, Brazil exited unceremoniously from a tournament in which they never looked the threatening force everyone expected.

Lauded for their technique and aesthetically pleasing ability, Brazil’s shooters were anything but. Balls airlifted to the International Space Station or misplaced so wide, the photographers found themselves in harm’s way. One after the other they approached. Elano came first and I knew he would miss, as I am a firm believer that you never choose a kicker who has only played minimal minutes in the match (see Nicolas Anelka’s sorry effort in the 2008 Champions League Final or USA’s Tobin Heath yesterday in the Women’s World Cup Final).

Elano’s approach showed indecision and a lack of confidence.  Thiago Silva, a center back, shot his ball into the gut of the keeper. Andre Santos? A souvenir for the cheap seats. Fred? Perhaps he had issues with the photographers and took his anger out on them. Of the four shooters, two were defenders while the other two were substitutes who played a combined 51 minutes of the 120.

You can question Mano Menezes’ selection of kickers or the shoddy playing surface (although the Paraguayans had no issue), but the Brazilians have only themselves to blame. While they never fail to thrill in their victories, at least they remain consistent in defeat.

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