Dani Alves: Why Brazil can still win the World Cup
Denied the leadership of captain Thiago Silva and minus the attacking potency of their prodigal footballing son Neymar, home nation Brazil face a tough ask in stopping the German march in this evening’s titanic World Cup semi-final clash. Ahead of the game, Seleção right-back Dani Alves gives us his final thoughts…
I think we have to be favourites. The home side are always favourites and we have a great squad, a great coach. It is all coming together and the Brazilian people won’t forgive us if we don’t give a good account of ourselves. Football brings pressure but we are about going out there and expressing ourselves as a team, playing the game in the right way and doing it the Brazilian way. The home fans will help us a lot, they are our 12th man.
Facing my teammate Leo Messi in the final would be pretty incredible. It would be a massive match, the biggest the continent could offer. He is an outstanding player, and I face him a lot in training. So I would welcome the chance to face him in a big game like that.
With Scolari we like to keep things defensively tight, and I think we are changing the image of Brazil’s defenders. We have shown that defenders can be star players for Brazil as well as the forwards, who are always more famous in the selecao shirt. So our first responsibility is to keep things tight, but he also allows me to get forward when I can. I do that for Barcelona and we see that it works, so I will be trying to cause trouble down the flank when I can.
There is always big competition for a place in the Brazil side, always. I have always given my best for the selecao, but all the other players do that too, we are all desperate to pull on the shirt.
Have I redefined the idea of a typical full back? Well for Brazil and for Barca, in many ways, the focus is on attacking. I can play as a winger but I’m more effective as an attacking full back, in the same way that Roberto Carlos was. I like to overlap and bomb forward like him and hopefully it works.
Barcelona have helped to redefine football in many ways, to take it back to its roots, its origins. They love playing football, and they want it to be fun, enjoyable, an expression of yourself. That’s how I’ve always seen how the game should be played, so I fitted in to the team there very well. But now I see Brazil playing the game more and more like that, too. We are relaxing, we are giving enjoyment back to the fans by enjoying the way we play ourselves.
I grew up in Juazeiro, and every boy would play football there. I played non-stop with my neighbours. And my father was a huge football fan who would arrange games and eventually had his own team. I played for the team as a winger, but then I got moved back to right back, which is where I play now. That education made me the player I am today.
I’m a big fan of the World Cup ball, it’s great. It plays really well and it is very bright, it has the right personality for Brazil. The name is great, too. Brazuca means pride in the Brazilian way of life – which I have, very much so – and it also means Brazilian. So I relate strongly to it. Hopefully it can bring Brazil a lot of good luck.
I like to listen to music to relax before the match. My favourite is Samba. I don’t get the chance to listen to much Samba in the Barcelona dressing room, but in the Brazil one, we have it a lot. It’s very relaxing before games, and puts you in the right mood.
If Brazil can win the World Cup final, you would not be able to stop me dancing for a couple of months straight, I don’t think. The whole country would have the biggest carnival ever, you can’t imagine it…