Mano Menezes has a tough job ahead of him. He’s taking over as the Brazilian national team coach right after a World Cup of failure for the nation. Carlos Dunga failed to win the 2010 World Cup, and in a country which expects to win the tournament every four years, that’s not good enough. Now Menezes will be under a huge amount of pressure having taken over the team, especially with the next World Cup in 2014 taking place in Brazil.
Menezes has decided to stray away from the physical and counter-attacking team which Dunga used, and he has decided to go for a more classic type of team. What I mean by classic is a more, “technically gifted” side, which plays through the midfield and reminds us why the Brazilian team is nicknamed the Samba Kings. No more will we see Lucio powering headers in from corners, now we’ll be seeing quick one-touch passing which cuts through opposing teams.
But starting anew is difficult for any team, even if you have the myriad of talent which Brazil has. So Menezes has to find a star quickly, and it seems like the coach has found him. Alexandre Pato has been consistent for Menezes in this new start for Brazil. The AC Milan forward has scored three goals in three games, most recently in Brazil’s 2-0 victory over Ukraine.
What struck me the most about Pato’s most recent goal for Brazil was that it was a true center forward’s goal. He received the low ball from Carlos Eduardo in the middle of the penalty box, spun around with his first touch, and slammed the ball into the back of the net. A goal with footwork, strength, and speed, everything that a true number nine needs.
Pato’s previous two goals against the United States and Iran were as impressive. Against the United States Pato easily dribbled around the keeper to finish coolly, and his goal against Iran was a spectacular close-range volley into the top left corner. With these three goals in these three friendlies, Pato has now racked up six goals in ten appearances for the senior Brazilian team. Not bad for a 21 year-old.
I remember when I first saw Pato, a wiry 18 year-old making his debut for AC Milan, and in 20 appearances his first season for the rossoneri, he scored 9 goals. Pato went on to become more than just a speedy kid, he grew more muscular, made sure to work on his left foot, and became a more complete forward. Now for AC Milan he has scored 43 goals in 94 appearances in all competitions.
After just three years, the youngster which was purchased for 30.1 million dollars from Internacional, could be worth at least 60 million Euros. But it seems like Pato wants to remain at AC Milan, where he’s surrounded by players like Ronaldinho, Ibrahimovic, and Robinho.
Already Alexandre Pato is one of the most dangerous forwards in the world, and in about four years time, when the 2014 World Cup comes around he could be a legend in the making. Right now Mano Menezes has chosen him over Luis Fabiano, Grafite, and Adriano, because the coach understands the importance of letting this young talent grow. He’s Brazil’s new center forward now, and he could continue to be for years to come, we’ll just have to wait and see…