Football

Paulinho should make way for others, says Zico

Brazil legend Zico has labelled Tottenham midfielder Paulinho as Brazil's "weak link" based on their performances thus far at the World Cup.

The hosts beat Croatia 3-1 in their first game but had a disappointing 0-0 draw against Mexico last time out.

And Zico, who has managed Japan and Iraq, thinks that Brazil coach Luis Felipe Scolari needs to ring in the changes if the hosts are to mount a serious challenge for the trophy.

"The most important change was never made: Paulinho (above) once again had a game to forget," he said in The Guardian.

"He is a problem now because he is a shadow of the player that last year proved so important in creative and defensive duties. He is a true box-to-box player that I had the pleasure to interview for my TV show and I advised him to keep playing that way."

Zico added that the Spurs man should have "made way for Ramires in the middle" adding that Willian should have also come in to replace Hulk on the right.

Said the player nicknamed the White Pele: "Paulinho had a tough season at Tottenham and it's blatantly clear that he lacks rhythm and confidence. He is not as incisive as he used to be.

"There was also too much space between Paulinho and Luiz Gustavo, who was dropping back too much instead of closing down the Mexicans."

Looking ahead to the match against Cameroon, Zico cautioned Brazil not to take things easy against a demoralised opponent.

"Cameroon have problems of their own, having lost Alex Song to a red card and seen their own players almost trading blows.

"That doesn't mean they will just wait for Brazil to win," he continued.

"In this sense, the draw with Mexico might be the moment Brazil had a reality check and got their act together.

"If anything, they can look at Spain's demise as a lesson to everybody.

"The Selecao are still among the favourites in this World Cup, but they are here to fight for a trophy, not collect it." - Wire Services

World Cup