Different shade of yellow: Why Brazil 2011 aren’t what the world is used to

English football apologists sometimes talk of the pressure of history weighing heavily on the shoulders of the current squad, preventing them from playing with any freedom or even happiness.

Now, imagine trying to play for Brazil.

The five-times world champions are not only the most successful side in the history of FIFA competitions, but they have the added pressure of joga bonito on their minds; the desire, the need, to play in the ‘samba’ style.

The fluid football of the 1970s Brazil sides is the stuff of legend. In fact, although some argue it’s the stuff of myth - looked back upon through the balmy eyes of history as something much more beautiful than it was – this reputation is well-established and well-deserved.

Crouch's attempts to fit in with the Brazil team were a failure...

Either way, the Brazillians have never tried to address any erroneous belief and when the fairly negative Dunga was dismissed following his stint as manager of the national team, onlookers squealed with joy. The era of pragmatism over futebol was over, they said.

Mano Menezes’ stewardship though, has been barely more spectacular than that of his predecessor. Menezes has the significant pressure of a home World Cup in 2014 – a tournament at which winning is the only option for Brazil - and this perhaps helps explain their disappointing early displays in the Copa America.

With the immense expectation of glory in three years time, the planning has already started, and the Copa this summer was an important step in the process. The inclusion of Santos starlets Neymar and Ganso and Sao Paulo’s Lucas Moura – who has featured as a substitute in every match so far - may appear in some ways premature, but there is a commitment to giving the ‘next generation’ an extended run in the seleção so that they are ready for the main event.

This has been to the detriment of the current tournament campaign. Despite also featuring a host of experienced players, there has been an obvious impatience about the side, who appear to panic when they aren’t winning matches, even if they are playing well.

This was a feature of all three group games and something they must work on. Against perceived weaker sides – and that encompasses most of the world – it will be vital to rely on their quality and wait for that opening; a policy they haven’t always stuck to of late.

Much like Argentine boss Sergio Batista, Menezes struggled to get his team playing in the right fashion in those earlier games and was roundly criticised by his country’s press.

The team that drew with Venezuela and Paraguay was a side with no identity, and struggling in the shadow of former glories. The team that survived a couple of scares against Ecuador was more prepared, and they ended up winning comfortably.

Once more like Batista, the importance of making the right changes was evident.

The decision to play Maicon ahead of European champion Dani Alves was a masterstroke, with the Inter full-back by far the best player on the park against Ecuador. And by tweaking Ganso’s role, he was able to squeeze more creativity from the young playmaker.

Although what is on display at this year’s Copa America is not a vintage Brazil side, it’s not really meant to be. At least, not for another three years.

That will be when Mano Menezes and his side are judged, and they have a lot to live up to.