Joga Bonita – Brazil Looks to Go for Gold

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The Brazilian Women’s National Team is no stranger to the international stage. They have played in Olympics, World Cups, Copa America Feminina, and so on. Ranked 8th in FIFA Rankings, they also know what it’s like to play on the final day, in the Championship game. This team is not one to be taken lightly, especially not since they are playing at home and seem to have captured the attention of all of Brazil.

They are 13-3-10 in Olympic games and have a 5-1-3 record against Sweden, who they will play in the Semifinal. They placed fourth in 1996 and 2000, came in second in 2004 and 2008, and were knocked out in the quarterfinals in 2012. Brazil is a good mix of experience and youth. They have 3 players with over 100 caps, most players with 50-75 caps and the rest below 45.

The Brazilians have multiple players who can steal the show just by playing the Brazilian way (Joga Bonita), but here are a few that I think you should keep an eye on:

Monica, who plays for Orlando Pride in the NWSL, is a center back with only 29 caps and 5 goals but is a strong defender. She helps keep the line tight and, while she can go forward, tends to stay back and hold down the fort. She has good pace and can get the ball going for a counter attack fairly quickly.

Andressa, who plays for Houston Dash in the NWSL, is quick and deadly. She has only 39 caps and 1 goal, but she can be on top of a defense within the blink of an eye. She is a midfielder who has speed and skill and can give a defense headaches all day. She’s only 21, so look for her to shine in years to come, as well.

Formiga, an intelligent and experienced midfielder, at age 38, has been here and done this. She has 25 goals in 152 caps and isn’t looking to slow down any time soon. She may not be the speed demon on the team, but she is smart and moves the ball effortlessly through the midfield and up to her strikers.

Cristiane, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain in France, has 85 goals in 125 caps. She knows how to find the back of the net and is second on the team only to Marta. She has a nose for being in the right place at the right time and will make you pay if you leave her open.

Marta, the 5 time Ballon d’Or winner, plays for FC Rosengard in Sweden and has 105 goals in 112 caps for her country. This woman is on a mission, and if she is open, or defended, or somewhere in between, she will shoot. And when she shoots, the ball tends to find a way in. She has the captain’s armband for a reason. She is the heart and soul of this team. Where Marta goes, so goes this team. Make no mistake about the fact that she absolutely is Brazil’s #10—their playmaker. When Marta steps onto the pitch, the world takes note.

While their strength is clearly offense, their defense can be shaky and suspect at times. It has been holding up thus far, but it will definitely be the deciding factor in how far this team can go. They’ve made it to the finals before, but they’ve always had to settle for silver. But don’t count them out this time around. They are at home, they are talented, they are on a mission, and they want the party in Rio to be all about them, when all is said and done.