This is a term that has, inevitably, been used a lot in the last month. Brazil, the spiritual home of football where the game is played as it should be, by players full of languid skill. We have heard the term before every match they have played, and we will hear it again this week.
What utter crock.
We are all aware of the skills of the 1970 team, and the flair and at times naivety of the players of the 1982. That side was given even romance as it had players in it with names like Zico, Junior and Socrates.
However, since then, Brazil has been no more talented or ambitious than the rest of them, and in this tournament have probably been the most cynical team around.
Take this morning’s Quarter Final against Colombia. Two goals from set pieces, and 20 lumps of flesh taken out of James Rodriguez. Is that really the best they have got?
It is a team built in the mold of its coach Luis Felipe Scolari. Dogged, determined, and not afraid to fling the studs around. Man-marking your opposition’s best player is one thing, concerted studs up assaults is another.
Probably their mind-set was best summed up when their captain thought it was a good idea to kick the ball out of the Colombian goalkeeper’s hands just to slow things down a bit. He will miss the semi-final for that, but at least he slowed it all down.
What is not helping this is that they are being allowed to get away with it. Ask any Croatian, and they will agree. Host team bias in officiating is not a new thing, in any sport, but it has been overdone here. The fact that Thiago Silva was not already on a yellow card, let alone still on the pitch, when he kicked the fouled the keeper says a lot.
So now they had off to the semi-final, with an attack built around Fred and Joe, and a midfield with Paulinho in it. They may go further, and they would not be the first negative, cynical side to win a world cup, but leave out the Samba Football thing.