RIO DE JANEIRO, June 11 – Former skipper Socrates on Thursday said he feared Brazil could be knocked out in the group phase at the World Cup and slammed their style of play under coach Dunga as an "affront" to Brazilian soccer culture.
"I am very worried they will have difficulty getting past the opening phase," 1982 star Socrates told the BBC’s Brazilian service, saying his favourites to land the trophy were regional rivals Argentina, England, Holland and Spain.
Socrates, whose side played entertaining football but lost to a Paolo Rossi-inspired Italy in the last eight in 1982 in Spain, also lamented that modern football has "lost its shine – its artfulness".
As a result, he said, there was less of a gulf between the top sides than the lesser lights than there once was.
Under current coach and 1994 Cup-winning skipper Dunga, Brazil have developed a tougher style but Socrates said he thought that "they are in bad physical shape at the moment," although "if they improve that then they have a good chance to shine."
Socrates added that in his view "today’s Brazilian footballing style is an affront to our culture. (There is) this focus on staying power, which is is alien to us traditionally".
Many Brazilian fans who hark back to the old samba style of the Pele-days – the 1982 side also leaned more heavily towards flair than aggression – share Socrates’ view although Dunga has won both the Copa America and the Confederations Cup.
For Socrates, even if Brazil win their sixth World Cup, "I will take no pleasure in seeing the team play in this fashion."
If the Brazilians do get through as Group G winners – they face North Korea, Ivory Coast and Portugal – they could face Chile or Switzerland, assuming European champions Spain win Group H, in the last 16.
But if Dunga’s side came second they would then likely face the Spaniards, many people’s tip for the actual final.