|Profiles - World Cup Teams - Brazil|
Brazil's exuberant attacking play has illuminated past World Cups but the
unique skills of players such as Pele, Garrincha, Leonidas, Rivelino, Zico
and Socrates have been replaced by the bone-crunching tackle of a new breed
of midfield hard-men.
In the last decade, Brazilian football has become among the most violent in the world with an astonishing average of around 55 fouls per game in domestic matches.
The disease has spread to the national team which is now under the command of Luiz Felipe Scolari, a man who publicly encourages his players to foul the opposition and chastises them for not doing enough time-wasting.
The supply of creative players has dried up, so much so that Romario, who spearheaded Brazil's 1994 World Cup-winning campaign, is regarded the country's most gifted player at the age of 35.
Brazil still have a few representatives of the old school in the likes of Juninho Paulista and Deporitvo Coruna's Djalminha but they are often overlooked by Scolari, just as they were by his predecessors.
The Brazilians, the only country to have taken part in all 17 World Cups, will be going into the 2002 World Cup at one of the lowest ebbs in their soccer history.
Although they are automatically included among the favourites, it would need a dramatic transformation for them to claim a record fifth title.
They spluttered through the qualfiers, losing six times in 18 matches to finish one point behind modest Ecuador and a massive 13 behind their arch-rivals Argentina.
Brazil failed to settle on a team, using four coaches and 59 players in a campaign which included humiliating defeats against Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Paraguay -- teams which Brazil's strikers used for shooting practice in the past.
In between, they flopped dramatically at the Confederations Cup, winning one of five matches and bowing out with a defeat to Australia in the third-place play-off, and were eliminated by Honduras in the Copa America.
The team's demise has coincided with striker Ronaldo's two-year injury lay-off. The Inter Milan player may still be fit in time but if he does play, the expectations will be enormous as he is likely to be billed as the saviour.
Scolari will also have to decide whether to persist with Rivaldo, who has looked a lethergic, ponderous shadow of his Barcelona self when playing for his country.
The chaotic goings-on in the Brazilian Football Confedertion (CBF) have not helped the team.
During the qualifiers, the CBF lost count of the number of yellow cards its players had picked up, called up players who were already injured and kept getting confused over FIFA regulations on the release of players by European clubs.
Domestic football is in a shambolic state with a plethora of incomprehensible tournaments, plummeting attendances and an exodus of the top players abroad.
The outcry was so great that two Congressional commissions of inquiry were set up last year to investigate suspected maladministration and corruption.
Both said they found evidence of chronic maladministration and misuse of funds, often for political purposes, by the CBF.