Kaka: England are Brazil's World Cup rivals
Kaka believes Fabio Capello has transformed England into a team capable of wrecking Brazil’s hopes of claiming a sixth World Cup in South Africa next year.
The Real Madrid playmaker is a keen student of the English game and he has been impressed by the way Capello has resurrected the national squad from the ashes of their failure to reach Euro 2008, guiding Wayne Rooney and co. to the finals with nine wins in ten qualifiers.
"I think the character of Capello is the key to understanding this England team," Kaka said ahead of Saturday’s friendly clash between the two countries.
"We always knew that they had good individual players capable of deciding games but they look more of a team now.
"They are much sharper collectively, which is what you would expect from a Capello team. You could see that in their qualifying matches. Their group was not easy and they did very well."
If John Terry fails a fitness test on Saturday, England could take to the field with only two first-choice players, Wayne Rooney and Gareth Barry.
But Kaka still believes the encounter will be a significant test for two nations he believes could end up meeting each other again in next year’s final in Johannesburg.
"It is not just England, we have some injuries too," Kaka stressed.
"It makes the game less rich but England are always a tough team to play against and it will be good to see how we do against one of the favourites for the next World Cup.
"After this match we play Oman, then we have a friendly in March and after that it is the World Cup, so this test for us is very important."
As ever with Brazil, a debate rages over the extent to which the current squad has sacrificed flair in the pursuit of results but Kaka has no problem with head coach Dunga’s emphasis on collective defending and tactical discipline.
"For us, the best thing, the number one option, is to win and after that we have to make a good show for everyone," he said.
"We are not thinking about trying to beat England two or three-nil, we are just thinking about playing good and trying to win."
Brazil’s fortunes have been transformed under Dunga, who took over after the country’s demoralising quarter-final exit from the last World Cup.
"After the World Cup we were highly criticised and we learned from that, especially the things that went wrong" reflected Gilberto Silva, the former Arsenal midfielder who is one of the survivors from Brazil 2002 World Cup winning squad.
"We had to start again from zero and now the team looks strong but we are always looking to learn, to get better day by day.
"The World Cup is massive for everyone, everyone wants to be there, but especially for Brazilians.
"We have made a big sacrifice to qualify. It is not so easy for us, most of whom play in Europe, to go to South America for the qualifying matches.
"But all of us enjoy representing our country and we know our responsibility from now on. After the qualification, the pressure only gets bigger."
Dunga meanwhile insisted he has no problem with people criticising his approach, as long as Brazil continue to get results.
"I want to be remembered as a winner," he said.
"You should not forget that if Brazil has won a lot of competitions it is because we have had the best defenders as well as the best strikers."
Published Nov 14 2009