We’ll start with Group A, highlighted by the hosts. It would be tempting to field an XI of footballers to represent Brazil. Brazil is without doubt the nation with the world’s greatest footballing pedigree when taking into account World Cup victories, number of professional players abroad, and popularity of the game domestically. Dinner conversation, ambitions of children and use of public space haven’t necessarily translated this into the high attendances in the Brasilerão. However, walk, drive or fly anywhere in Brazil, and you can’t avoid football. In favelas, in parks, in clubs, people of all backgrounds are kicking about dreaming of becoming the next Pelé. Yet it’s futebol when paired with one particularly Brazilian space that it’s at its most beautiful, its most recognizable, its most poetic. The beach. Put on your sunglasses, grab a caipirinha and come to a place where far more than just the joga is bonito. Here’s the XI of Brazilian Beaches.
CF: Ipanema (RJ) -22.986921,-43.204765
ST: Copacabana (RJ) -22.972579,-43.184087
LW: Cacimba do Padre (PE) -3.849632,-32.440052
CM: Porto de Galinhas (PE) -8.507177,-35.000467
CM: Costa do Sauípe (BA) -12.442192,-37.919397
RW: Praia do Padre, Meaípe (ES) -20.735686,-40.533661
LB: Galheta (SC) -27.593044,-48.425374
CB: Jericoacoara (CE) -2.795083,-40.518565
CB: Praia do Sono (RJ) -23.333488,-44.633632
RB: Bonete (SP) -23.917422,-45.345147
GK: Maravilha (RS) -33.721181,-53.341423
Strikers: Leading the line are none other than Brazil’s two most recognizable beaches. Copacabana (RJ) expertly exploits space in a box of crowded tourists defenders, while even keel Ipanema (RJ) is both solid and spectacular in a number 10 role.
Wingers: A surprise selection in the team, Cacimba do Padre, Fernando de Noronha (PE), may feel peripheral for large swaths of matches. An inability to cut inside could become a liability to the Brazilian attack, but when isolated one on one, this up and coming winger habitually leaves defenders stranded in its waves. On the other flank is the unsung hero of this squad, Praia do Padre, Meaípe (ES). The youngest and shortest of three brothers, Praia may not have the fame of its neighbors, but can deliver a cross that dips as beautifully as the Brazilian sunset.
Central Midfielders: Lengthy Porto de Galinhas (PE) is one of the best box-to-box beaches around along with it’s central midfield partner Costa do Sauípe (BA), knows how to boss a game. Or in the case of the latter, site of the draw for this tournament, fix one.
Fullbacks: Don’t be surprised to see a golaço if Praia do Bonete (SP) comes forward from right back. This hidden talent of Bonete has a flair for the spectacular. Galheta (SC) often overshadowed by other beaches in Florianopolis, earned its spot as starting left back for its ability to handle large numbers of Argentines and Uruguayans. Given its naturist tendencies, it may be under close scrutiny of referees’ eyes in the event of a goal celebration.
Central Defenders: Praia do Sono (RJ) is a no-nonsense centrehalf. Wins everything in the air and keeps the door shut on clever runners. Jericoacoara (CE) is a more traditional Brazilian style defender–extremely athletic, but prone to clumsiness. Count on Jericoacoara to lead many attacks from the back thanks to its recent surge in popularity.
Goalkeepers: Guardians of the net are often the odd duck in a team, and this Brazilian beach proves that rule. Far closer to Buenos Aires than Rio, Maravilha (RS) and its wall of dunes will prove formidable against opposing attackers.
There you have A Seleção das Praias Brasileiras. Just like the actual Seleção, there are without doubt plenty of worthy candidates omitted. Verdict for the tournament to come when the rest of group is announced.