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11 Premier League players called up to give Brazil squad a familiar look – This is where it became infuriating – The Mag

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I suppose the World Cup is as good as over then.
Yes there’s three games to go (if, like me, you ignore the irrelevance of the third place match) but the daily dose of two games that have made for an enjoyable few weeks is at an end.
This is particularly relevant in this country, as the final moments of the quarter-finals saw another agonising England elimination, a moment that regularly creates a downturn in interest in any major tournament.
Of course, there’s a positive here in that the three players critical to the Newcastle United cause are heading home, with a reasonable turnaround time for the next Premier League game at Leicester (and the potential for involvement in the cup game that precedes it).
I feel bad that, with the possible exception of Nick Pope, this was likely these lads’ last major tournament (same for Schar with Switzerland) and it feels dismissive towards them to be slightly relieved, especially as they weren’t given the chance to influence the final outcome.
The same applies to the events of the previous evening, as a tearful Bruno sat in the dug-out he’d been condemned to all evening, following Brazil’s shock entry. The conflicting emotions here were quite unusual, as I felt so sorry for this diamond of a player we’ve grown to love so quickly this past year, while openly feeling happy that he’d be under consideration for a role in the forthcoming United schedule. There was also a tinge of spite.
This World Cup has been different from the ones where I was a kid, when the South American giants would be made up of exotic superstars that seemed to exist in a different universe to the football we watched. The Brazilians and Argentinians would play in raucous South American competitions for the likes of Santos or Boca Juniors, with the odd big name gracing the European cup in the colours of Barcelona, or one of the Italian giants.
The all-conquering Premier League has changed this beyond recognition. Argentina won their quarter final with the Aston Villa goalie in nets and some bloke who plays for Brighton up front with Messi. Brazil though, took things to another level, with no less than 11 Premier League players called up to give their squad a familiar look. This is where it became infuriating.
I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that of the Premier League players involved, only Martinelli has had as strong an impact on the English league as Bruno. The midfielders selected ahead of our boy were a parade of average. Lucas Paqueta is Bruno’s mate, which earns him points, but he’s looked lost at West Ham so far. I don’t know what part of football the non-scoring, non-assisting, untackling Fred is supposed to be good at, but he was baffling persisted with, alongside Casemiro who has had a brilliant career but is surely nearing the end of his time in a national shirt.
Given the need for a driving influence through the middle, the subs that came on during Brazil’s knock out games were equally infuriating. Antony is a turbo charged version of Anthony Knockaert, running about working his ticket and diving pathetically but ultimately costing his team possession.
Raphinha is a good player but I’m slightly baffled how having the influence for just about staying up with Leeds (before moving to Real Madrid) has wow factor with Tite, whereas dominating the league for a year to haul Newcastle from second bottom to third top gets you 120 minutes of spectating. The erstwhile Brazil manager needs banned for life from Rio Steakhouse in Jesmond and here’s hoping they appoint someone who has Joelinton’s number.
Here’s the thing in all this. I hope that the response from all involved is to prove a point. For Bruno, that is to make the starting berth his own and come back in 3.5 years to play a major role in success back in the Americas. For the England boys and Schar, to take the experience and sense of disappointment and use it to focus on winning something for Newcastle United. The remnants of 2022 could go a long way to telling us just how likely this could be, but I am taking a positive that our internationals have had just the right amount of football to be kept ticking without getting fatigued.
Either way, the very presence of these lads made the World Cup far more enjoyable and it’s a sense of real pride that underlines the fact Newcastle United are on their way back. I hope the events of Qatar have steeled them all to make people wince at the thought of having left them off the pitch. And if I happen to see Bruno in Rio, he’s getting a great big cuddle from me, which will hopefully make him appreciate how valued he is round here, thus eliminating the unpleasant elements of this should the meat sweats have set in by this point.
Time for the real stuff to get back on track, ten days to go!
You can follow the author on Twitter @Mr_Dolf

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Jamie Smith

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