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Latest on Totaal Liverpool, South American football expert Paulo Freitas shares with us his thoughts on Brazilian football. Currently Head Researcher for Football Manager in Brazil and Sky Sports News correspondent, Mr. Freitas has vast knowledge of both Brazilian and Latin American Football. You may read some of his work on Just-Football.com and SambaFoot.com. You can follow Mr. Freitas on Twitter – @Cynegeticus.


How did you enter the media industry?
I started writing in blogs and smaller news sites, and grew over time, twitter helped too as it gave me the chance to increase exposure, which was harder before twitter was more popular, as I could not reach certain audiences, especially foreign ones.

You’re Head Researcher for Sport Interactive famous game Football Manager… What is that job all about? What’s the difference between your job and that of a scout located in South America?
The job is about researching everything related to football in a certain country, the clubs finances and how they are ran, the people who work at the clubs, and everything about the players, since objective data like position, vital info such as their ages, etc… and also more subjective data, like how they play, their qualities and flaws, their mentality and so on.

It’s a complicated job especially due to its subjectivity, and since changes can change fast in football, it’s not always easy to follow the changes in the game as quick as they happen in real life, since there is a limited amount of updates each version of football manager.

It’s different from normal scouting in that we don’t focus on relatively few players, a normal scouting tends to be more detailed and don’t necessarily use numbers to rate the players, normal scouting also follows the needs of whoever is scouting the player, so it can be far more detailed than the FM research, but it will struggle to rate as many players, bar using statistical data and such.

Brasilien 58

Where do you think the amazing Brazilian football tradition and culture come from? Do the economically poor areas in the country make the kids eager to get out of there, or is it the Futsal clubs or beach football that make your country produce such a great amount of talent?
Football started in Brazil very early, in the late XIX Century, which gave Brazil as much time to develop as European countries had, so football could establish itself in a time when there was little or no competition and could then spread from the country’s elite to the rest of the population.

As happens in most countries, players tend to come from the poorer classes, as the wealthier ones favor more stable jobs, such as becoming lawyers, etc.. Football is attractive as a job if you have no better option as one can make a lot of money if is good enough, lucky enough and work hard enough. The fact competition is fierce and players can get injuries means though that most players in Brazil struggle with very low salaries and moving from one small club to another.

Futsal is an important way to develop players and many players start there, before moving to football. Beach soccer, on the other hand, is practiced mostly by former players or players that never become footballers, or never tried to become a footballer, so its contribution to the development of players in Brazil is negligible.

Futsal gets more and more media space nowadays. Players such as Neymar, Leo Bapistao and Philippe Coutinho, and how they grew up on the futsal pitch, have been mentioned on the blog (Totaal Liverpool). What does futsal mean to Brazilian football, overall? Has the introduction of futsal changed the training methods?
Futsal has replaced amateur kinds of development of players as the main system to develop skillful players, most clubs have youth futsal teams and a few also have senior futsal teams as well, but players rarely move from senior futsal to senior football.

Training methods in Brazil did change thanks to futsal, as coaches could emphasize ball control in small spaces and dribbling skills, while in the past those skills had to be learned in amateur football (such as street football), which became hard over the decades as Brazil kept developing and the old amateur football fields in big cities were destroyed to make room for buildings.


The mass protests in relation to the Confederations Cup were given huge media attention around the world. How should we (Europeans) interpret those protests and are they likely to continue during the World Cup?
The protests were not only against the World Cup, but rather also against a number of other different issues, such as the transport fares, corruption, high taxes, inflation, opposition to the idea of changing certain laws and so on.

The Confederations Cup and the World Cup and their new stadiums were a natural target though as the stadiums were built with public money, despite promises of being built with private money, and the stadiums ended up costing far more than originally planned, while the government failed to invest in other areas such as education and health care.

The government promised to address all those issues, but has so far failed to do so, which may lead to more protests during the World Cup, as in fact happened when the pope visited Brazil in July, when protesters once again clashed with the police. There is, however, still time to handle the issues, but 2014 is also a presidential election year, which means there will be no lack of political motivation to organize protests even if the situation improves by then.

Brazil will always produce a fair amount of talent. Are there any so far rather unknown young players you think people should keep an eye on now?
Botafogo’s midfielder Vitinho has so far been the most interesting young player, he is fast and has good technique, can shoot with both legs, but he can be a bit selfish sometimes. His teammate Dória has also impressed so far. he is a very complete centreback, tall but with comfortable with the ball.

Cruzeiro’s right-back Mayke also had an impressive start in the league, he is an attacking full-back but unlike the typical Brazilian ones, he is not the kind to overcomplicate things, and is very objective. His teammate Vinícius Araújo is also a promising striker, having impressed for both Cruzeiro and the Brazilian youth national team, thanks to his great sense of positioning and his finishing skill.

Brazil's Leandro Damiao lines up for the

Leandro Damiao is consistently linked to European clubs, but he’s still playing in Brazil… Why?
Leandro Damião is an expensive player as his club Internacional have a policy of not selling players for cheap, his price was set high, which scares off potential buyers, but Internacional don’t need to sell him, as they have sold other players instead, like Oscar in 2012 and Fred (not to be confused with Brazil’s national team Fred) in 2013. meaning the club are in position to keep Leandro Damião if he wants. The fact a third party (small club Hermann Aichinger) owns a percentage of his rights further complicate things.

The fact he is often overrated in Europe thanks to his performances in the Olympics also helps increase his market value, which in turn helps motivate Internacional to demand more money to sell him.


How are Lucas Leiva and Philippe Coutinho regarded in Brazil? Do people think they have a chance to make it to the World Cup squad? What do you think?
Lucas Leiva is famous and well respected in Brazil as he was once named the best player in the league, and has impressed in Copa Libertadores, playing for Grêmio, so he is widely regarded as one of our best defensive midfielders.

Coutinho is far less famous and respected, as he left Brazilian football too young, before he could make a big impression, although he was deemed a promising player at the time, but his lack of success at Internazionale didn’t help him establish a reputation in Brazil.

Neither of them is expected in Brazil to be part of the national team as the squad has been mostly closed and competition is hard in their positions. I believe Lucas Leiva is more likely to have a chance as his experience could be useful, and experience is something Scolari values. Coutinho is in bigger trouble as the squad is already very young as it is, so unless he has a fantastic season, Scolari probably won’t want to risk including him.