The Brazilians’ fear of the goalkeeper

[*Blogpost title with apologies to Peter Handke.]

Neymar aside, it’s very hard to work up much enthusiasm for the Brazilian XI in the World Cup. The general lack of confidence and guile on display almost reminds me of England. How about that for an insulting comparison?  At each game I’ve seen so far, the singing of the national anthem has been the only time the players look roughly in synch. Will they  beat Colombia on Friday? I wouldn’t count on it. Ah well,  at least the host nation has a quality player between the posts this time. Not that the locals can ever get all that excited over whoever wears the No 1 jersey:

Júlio César, the starting goalkeeper for Brazil, is a frangueiro (chicken man). He is also a peru (turkey) and, on occasion, a mão de alface (or, roughly, lettuce hands). These are the printable euphemisms that Brazilians have for goalkeepers… In Brazil, goalkeepers are special, and not in a good way. They are the Little League right fielders, the last boy picked. In pickup games on the countless asphalt courts around this country, children usually play a form of rock-paper-scissors to decide which unlucky soul has to begin the game at goalkeeper. In the slightly more organized games in which adults rent a field to play on, anyone who agrees to play goalkeeper always plays free of charge.

[Via Simon Romero]

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