I just got back from speaking with four Brazilian players. Julio Baptista, Doni, Vagner Love and Juan met with reporters before the afternoon training session.
The most interesting thing about the encounter was that it confirmed all the stereotypical differences between Argentina and Brazil. The Argentine press conferences take place regularly and feature two players chosen on a rotating basis from the squad. There is a room set up specially and the player sit at a table and answer as many questions as are posed to them. It’s orderly and civilised.
The Brazilian press conference consisted of herding the press into a big room. About 15 minutes later the door opened and the four players appeared. The press ran to each of the players and pushed and shoved for the best vantage point. Everyone shouted their questions over one another. It was chaotic and the one who could push hardest or shout the loudest or find some way to outwit their rivals got the best material.
The talk from the players themselves was nothing new. The Brazilians seem to be aware that they are not favourites in Sunday’s final and they all pointed out (as if coached) that the Argentines have been playing together longer and thus have an advantage.
“They’ve been playing together a long time so they know where they are going to be without looking so we’ll need to keep our eyes on all of them,” said Juan. “We’ll need to mark well. (But) we came here to get to the final and we managed that and I think we have what it takes to win.”
I got the distinct impression that the Brazilian players would have delighted in being the underdog for once if only it didn’t mean talking up the Argentines.