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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Bold Brazil lack class of '70
Ronaldo celebrates his goal against Belgium
Ronaldo still conjures up flashes of his old genius
BBC Sport Online's chief football writer Phil McNulty, in Japan

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Brazil were the last team to win the World Cup by making defence an optional extra as opposed to a compulsory part of their plans.

Current coach Felipe Scolari has decided to copy the legendary vintage of 1970.

This year's Brazilian model, however, does not match up to the magic of the Mexico maestroes.

England lost to the Brazil of Pele, Tostao, Rivelino, Gerson and Jairzinho in the group stages.

But they fell by the wayside in Mexico to the pragmatic approach and resilience of West Germany

Brazil's sheer artistry and improvisation might make them a massive threat to England's World Cup ambitions in Shizuoka on Friday.

But coach Sven-Goran Eriksson's brow should not be unduly furrowed.

Scolari appears to have given up on any pretence of disguising their defensive deficiencies.

Instead he has chosen to pack his team with instinctive attacking talent, hoping to outscore the opposition.

It is a tactic that has served Brazil well so far, and when Rivaldo scores a goal of such quality as lit up Kobe's Wing Stadium against Belgium, the Scolari philosophy is easy to understand.

The Three Rs are the staple of a good English education - but in Brazil they stand for Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho and a different seat of learning.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari
Coach Scolari has given his attackers free rein
Ronaldo and Rivaldo may not be the force they were in recent times, but they still offer up moments of magic few other countries can dream of producing.

Rivaldo's 66th minute goal in the 2-0 win against Belgium was a three-card trick from his own personal masterclass - chest, control and trademark long range finish.

Ronaldo's edge has been slightly blunted by four years of crippling injuries.

But for all the moments when that once lightning burst of pace and instant control elude him, there are others that evoke memories of the great man in his youthful glory.

He ran into space brilliantly to receive Kleberson's pass and end Belgium's brave challenge in front of an ecstatic Kobe crowd.

These are the Brazilian plus points, along with pace to burn in all parts of the pitch.

A better keeper

But Eriksson's attention may well focus on defence - or rather the lack of it - before Friday.

Belgium ended beaten and brought down by Brazil's brilliance, but they did not go quietly and created a succession of chances.

Michael Owen will not be as generous as Belgium's Bart Goor, or maybe not as unlucky as Marc Wilmots, who was denied by Brazil keeper Marcos and had an effort disallowed.

Marcos appears to be one component of Brazil's team that is better than 1970.

He does not evoke the memories of the butter-fingered Felix and his unique place in World Cup history - the man who picked up a winners' medal without actually having the ability to make a save.

England's counter-attacking style may invite trouble, but the range of passing from men like David Beckham and Paul Scholes will trouble this Brazil team.

Brazil proved once more that they possess brilliance going forward, but their lack of attention to defensive duties will provide a mouth-watering sight for men like Owen and Beckham.

Eriksson will have seen much to admire - but not necessarily a team that should invoke fear in England.


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England skipper Davis Beckham
"You always want to play the best"
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
"Brazil are always beautiful to watch"
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