Dani Alves: “Others follow orders, I break the system” |  World Cup Qatar 2022

Dani Alves: “Others follow orders, I break the system” | World Cup Qatar 2022

Dani Alves, during a Brazilian training session last week.
Dani Alves, during a Brazilian training session last week.MASSIMO PINCA (REUTERS)

“Where I come from is not even on the map,” says Dani Alves, who was born in 1983 in a suburb of Bahia, “without electricity, without basic sanitation or food for dinner.” At 39, this multi-champion who only needs to win the World Cup, is the Methuselah of the Brazilian team in Qatar. This Thursday he makes his debut with Serbia at 8:00 p.m. in Spain (World Goal).

Ask. You have not had a club since June. How did you prepare for the World Cup?

Response. The important thing is to be physically fit. Because when you have the right foot, it’s like riding a bike. You never forget to do things.

Q. What kind of player are you now?

R.. I have become more surgical. There are already a lot of strong people running. But if the ball flies you can’t go faster than the ball. If you make good decisions, yes. You have to be physically fit to be well positioned, not to run.

Q. What World Cup do you imagine?

R. I think it will be the most balanced World Cup in recent years. Those with better individualities will be one step ahead. People focus a lot on having physical beasts, but soccer is a sport of good feet, good shooters and good assistants. Who wins? Who runs more or who plays better?

Q. Gabriel Jesús said that at Arsenal he feels less like an automaton than at City. Are we training players to make decisions for others?

R. If we concentrate on physically and tactically training children, we will cut off their power to dare to create and do something different. Humanity is robotized: you have to do this, this and this. They are cutting the power of creation to the people. That interferes in football. You see physically and tactically impeccable teams, but when you see the passes that are given you say: “no!”. It’s important to be physically fit, but execution is done on the right foot, with good decisions, finding passes and making moves where others don’t see them. At this rate, everyone is going to do the same and all the games will be even.

Q. There has probably never been a right-back who has made better decisions than you when it comes to the most difficult zone of attack, on the edge of the opponent’s box. Why do you think he has been able to interpret activities typical of a winger, full-back, midfielder or striker so well?

R. For me football is a game. The more you master the game, the more your power of decision will increase. I tell young people: how do you level up on the PlayStation? Because they dominate the phases of the game. You make the difference when you dominate the game, which has nothing to do with the highlights from the television. If you really love football, you don’t stay with the things you see in the highlights. You watch the 90 minutes of the games and, above all, your teammates. Where are they? How do they move? How do they like you to pass the ball to them? At the foot or in space…? If you see highlights your companions disappear. People ask me why I’m still playing at this level at 39 years old. Because I love this game! I love it kid! I am not wasting time here. I already played this when they didn’t pay me to do it. And now that they pay me I love him twice as much.

I tell young people: football is not played when the ball is at your feet; is played before. When the ball is at your feet, all you have to do is decide

Q. What do you love about the game?

R. I love the excitement it causes and the transformation it brings about in people’s lives, and I love the game not just when the ball is at my foot. If you love the game when the ball is not on your foot, you reach a power of creativity that others do not have. The others follow orders. My characteristic within the teams was to break the order, to break the system. Because in the end it is you who is inside the field. It is not about throwing centers into the area. I don’t shoot crosses: I try to pass to the teammate who is in the area. I try to attend. Center for center? Everybody does it. What few do is think about how their partner likes to move, where they like to shoot, how they like to go. All I do is try to serve my peers in the best possible way. That’s mastering the game! I tell young people: football is not played when the ball is at your feet; is played before. When the ball is at your feet, all you have to do is decide. But before receiving you have to see who is free, if you play first, second or third line; if it’s an acceleration pass, if it’s a control pass, if it’s a false pass, if it’s a goal pass… If you master all of this, when the ball reaches your foot you’ll already know what to do.

Q. Does Mbappé get confused when he tries to go down to midfield to play like Neymar?

R. Today PSG has the best trio in football. I have discussed it with Mbappé: he has to understand what he has next to him. Because the players who accompany him can greatly enhance his qualities. He is a freak who failed to understand that next to him there are freaks more freaks than him. Neymar and Messi have the power to see things that nobody in football has been able to see.

Q. Is Mbappé an unmarked prodigy who wants to become a passer?

R. I always say: I have a good pass. But if I’m close to Messi, I give him the ball. If I have Neymar I give it to him. They are going to optimize me more. It’s the problem with football when they bring together so many big names in the same place. You have to know how to manage that. What makes the human being powerful is the knowledge of his virtues and his defects. Because you can be the host, but there is always the ‘rehost’. If I am Mbappé, I give the ball to Messi and Ney, let them assist me, and I will score 150 goals a year.

Q. Which player do you like now?

R. I really like Musiala. It has something different. For football lovers it is magic, like Pedri.

Q. How do you see Luis Enrique?

R. Luis Enrique is like me: what he wants he will tell you in 30 seconds. That is very rare today.

Q. In England there is a debate because they say that Alexander Arnold does not know how to defend. Is it fair to separate the full-backs into defensive and offensive?

R. There are many people talking about football who don’t know about football. What is a defensive back and an offensive back? This is determined based on the characteristics of the team you play on. If you put a defensive player on the right side of Barcelona it doesn’t make any sense because Barcelona is a team made to attack; and if you put an attacking winger on a defensive team, you don’t put him on the right team either. What do the teams want from the players? Juventus is a team structured to defend and I gave it that offensive touch. That’s why they didn’t make me play as much as I would have liked. There they always thought about containment. As a defense I prefer to defend by attacking rather than defending in my area. That’s why I was little in Italy. If you hire a player who comes from Barcelona, ​​where the offensive power is brutal… I’ve hit a ball forward in my life, how am I going to do it now? If you sign me to do that, you’ve made a mistake: you’ve signed a player who likes to create, who doesn’t get overwhelmed at any point in the game, who is calm and always wants to create or defend through the ball. If you have a plan to make a defensive team, you should sign the players who feel that way. If not, you must sign robots that do what someone else wants. But we cannot lose the brilliance of creation: the difficult thing is not to defend, but to go on the attack. I love Alexander-Arnold because the one who dribbles with five players is as important as the one who beats five with a pass in a 40-meter change of direction. Apparently less bright, but for those who know football, much more efficient and fast.

Of the 17 years I’ve been in the national team, this is by far the best moment in Brazil. There was never so much complicity in the dressing room

Q. Has Brazil once again been a team that favors creativity?

R. It is the adaptation to modern football without losing the essence. He agrees that a very large number of players have appeared with that commitment and that brilliance that only Brazil can have. We are very balanced in all positions. Of the 17 years I’ve been in the national team, this is by far the best moment in Brazil.

Q. What makes Tite a great trainer?

R. He is capable of bringing out the best in everyone. He does the hardest thing for a coach: be concerned about the whole group. Most focus on those who are playing. He does not. That makes him different: his management and leadership power.

Q. How is the dressing room managed with Neymar’s leadership?

R. People get confused: football is not played within the four lines. It is played in the locker room. As the rock is outside, the rock will be inside. This is the best locker room from Brazil that I have seen. Because of the complicity that is inside.

Q. How do you see Vinicius and Rodrygo?

R. I am a big fan of Rodrygo. For me it is a phenomenon to see things where nobody sees them and to combine with impudence and personality. I think about it since he was at Santos. For me he is going to be great. Vini brings something spectacular from the factory: brutal power. She needs to improve his association game, something Rodrygo has in abundance.

Q. Which player from Brazil can surprise the world in Qatar?

R. Antony is a phenomenon. I have been part of his formation in San Pablo and I have given him some advice. You have to be careful because football is a very big distraction machine and you have to keep your balance when you’re not well. Football is going to end, but we will not end when football ends.

Q. What comes after soccer?

R. Children’s movies teach a lot to the one who pays attention. Kung Fu Panda says that the future is unknown and the present is the most beautiful thing there is, that is why it is called the present. Because you have to open it every day. I only live being responsible and aware, preparing myself for when the opportunity comes to knock on my door.

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