Vickery Column: Scolari's successful experiments leave him spoiled for choice

Brazil's 5-0 win over South Africa was Felipão's final chance to look at new options - Action Images
Last June and July, it all fell into place for Luiz Felipe Scolari. Starting with those friendly matches against England and France, continuing though the Confederations Cup, not only did he win the fans over and claim a trophy, he also ended the period with a firm idea of his first team.

Julio Cesar in goal.  A back four of Daniel Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Marcelo.  A central midfield duo of Luiz Gustavo, to hold, and Paulinho, to perform a mixed role.  A fluid line of three containing Hulk, Oscar and Neymar.  Fred at centre forward.

It was Scolari’s first team then, and it still remains so.  But that does not mean Brazil have been resting on their laurels.  Rather, Scolari has been using subsequent friendlies to add options and variations.  Let’s go through them;

Last September against Australia and Portugal there came the recall of Ramires, permitting a switch from 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3.  Maicon was successfully brought back as a reserve right back, and Maxwell introduced on the other flank as a less talented but steadier back up to Marcelo.  Plenty of centre backs have also been placed under the microscope; Dante was already part of the group, and Dede, Marquinhos and Henrique have all had a little chance to show what they can do.

In November William made a triumphant return to the squad, enthusing Scolari and presumably ending the hopes of the likes of Kaka and Philippe Coutinho.  And there was also the interesting experiment with Robinho; the injury to Fred had opened up a debate about Brazil’s lack of options at centre forward.  Scolari has always favoured a traditional target man figure.  But he was sufficiently wise and flexible to perceive that Brazil currently lack strength in depth in this position, and that it might be a good idea to investigate an alternative.  Robinho, then, as recalled and asked to play in the ‘false nine’ position.  Against Chile in Canada last November he came off the bench to head the winning goal.

And the experiments continued this week against South Africa.  Now Scolari does not only have one quality back up to Daniel Alves at right back.  As well as Maicon, he now also has Rafinha of Bayern Munich, who gave a competent display.  Presumably Maicon is still in pole position, but should age have taken its toll by the end of the season another satisfactory option has been tested.  Meanwhile, there might be no need after all to select a reserve left back.  Daniel Alves could perform the role – he was brought on early in the second half against South Africa to have a look at this very variation.  Should Scolari decide that, on the basis of this experiment, he can do without Maxwell, a place in the squad is opened up for an extra attacking player.

There is also the case of Fernandinho, though here things become a little more complicated.  The Manchester City midfielder scored a magnificent goal, struck from range with such sweetness that the South African keeper did not even move.

But Fernandinho had been brought in mainly to be given an opportunity in the holding role, sitting in front of the back four.  This is not his natural function – he is more of a lung buster, hence the fact that his club have been interested in his near namesake, Fernando of Porto.  Fernandinho did not look at all comfortable in the first half.  At the interval, though, Luiz Gustavo was brought on to play the holding role, freeing Fernandinho to play his more natural game, in the slot normally filled by Paulinho.

What conclusions can Scolari draw from this?  He is a big believer of the importance of the holding midfielder; the introduction of Luiz Gustavo last year was one of the most important pieces in his jigsaw.  It is also a position where a player is liable to pick up cards.  Brazil’s coach will surely think that he needs a specialist reserve – a place in the squad which, until his recent injury, was being filled by Lucas Leiva of Liverpool.  What might Scolari do, then?  Keep Lucas Leiva in his squad and instead view Fernandinho as a rival to Hernanes for the post of reserve to Paulinho?

There is plenty, then, for Luiz Felipe Scolari to think about in the two months before he names his Word Cup squad.  In fact, he has almost become a victim of his own success.  He has more options than can be included in a group of 23.

Read more:

> Neymar hat-trick helps Brazil to 5-0 win
> South Africa 0-5 Brazil: PLAYER RATINGS
 





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July 22, 2014
23:27Report: Cruzeiro set to hold talks with Milan over Robinho
23:16Former Internacional forward Ignacio Scocco set for Newell's Old Boys return
23:11Agent confirms Robinho offers amid interest from Cruzeiro and Orlando City
20:43Dunga: I'm here to rescue Brazil
19:57Orlando City club president: Robinho would be great alongside Kaká
19:41Robinho: "For fans of Milan I can only say thank you for everything"
19:28Former Arsenal defender André Santos released by Flamengo after being attacked by his own fans
19:17Dunga named as new Brazil coach
14:36Al-Wasl team manager Majed Obaidallah confirms loan signing of Fábio Lima from Atlético Goianiense
13:47New Chelsea signing Filipe Luís confident he will fit in perfectly at Stamford Bridge
13:31Filipe Luís looking forward to working with Chelsea manager José Mourinho
13:25Kaka nearing Sao Paulo debut
13:15Former Brazil U-20 coach Lourenco claims he and Dunga never spoke in the past
12:44Report: Juventus and Roma could move for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa following refusal to return to Ukraine
12:25Flamengo to keep hold of Ney Franco as manager- for now
12:251994 World Cup winner Jorginho set to be Brazil assistant manager again
12:14Former Palmeiras midfielder Valdivia has not moved to the Middle East for money
12:04Manchester United's Anderson criticised by ex-international Tostao
12:03Brazil set to name Luiz Felipe Scolari’s replacement this afternoon
11:44Former Brazil national team forward Adriano set for another comeback?
July 21, 2014
23:53Report: Barcelona to target São Paulo defender Rodrigo Caio
23:47La Liga newcomers Córdoba confirm the loan signing of forward Ryder Matos from Fiorentina
23:45Robinho taking his time over his next move
23:42Serie B newcomers Perugia sign veteran midfielder Rodrigo Taddei on a free transfer from Roma
23:352014 Brasileirão Round 11 summary: Internacional thump struggling Flamengo
23:25Palmeiras forward Henrique disappointed with his miss versus Cruzeiro
23:10Former Arsenal defender André Santos describes attack by Flamengo fans
23:04Deivid hailed by Atlético Paranaense head coach Doriva following Criciuma victory
22:30Atlético Paranaense head coach Doriva praises supporters and forwards
16:06Palmeiras defender Lúcio apologises to Cruzeiro’s Manoel
15:32Manchester United full-back Rafael da Silva relishing opportunity to work with Louis van Gaal
15:17Neymar: Brazil has fallen behind Germany and Spain
14:53Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale reflects on a “wonderful occasion”
14:46Fluminense 0-0 Exeter City
10:06Ricardo Goulart scores again as Cruzeiro build championship lead
08:30Andre Santos attacked by supporter after Flamengo thumped by Internacional
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07:59Liverpool's Lucas Leiva closing in on Napoli move
July 20, 2014
12:06Dodo hopes Inter Milan move can improve international prospects
11:55Sao Paulo boss Muricy Ramalho backs Dunga for Brazil post
11:45São Paulo Ganso disappointed his side failed to convert their chances against Chapecoens
11:35Leandro Damiao misses out again for Santos as striker's woes continue
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11:23Real Madrid confirm Casemiro loan to FC Porto
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July 19, 2014
23:19Gerard Houllier explains why Lionel Messi was awarded the Golden Ball
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July 19, 2014
23:19Gerard Houllier explains why Lionel Messi was awarded the Golden Ball
23:13Neymar believes Brazil can learn from Germany and Spain
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July 14, 2014
23:57FIFA President Sepp Blatter denies involvement in selection of Lionel Messi as Golden Ball winner
23:48FIFA Secretary-General Jérôme Valcke expects Russia and Qatar World Cups to match Brazil
23:13Maicon philosophical over Brazil World Cup disappointment
July 13, 2014
23:44Fred hopes Fluminense will give him time off after World Cup disappointment
23:41Fred confirms he has retired from international football
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July 12, 2014
23:51Joachim Low: Germany can be the first European nation to win in Latin America
23:48Dunga: Germany played as a unit
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23:35Oscar has "horrible feeling" after Netherlands defeat
July 11, 2014
22:50Germany forward Thomas Muller looking forward to playing in the Maracana
July 09, 2014
23:55Neymar agent Wagner Ribeiro makes astonishing attack of Luiz Felipe Scolari
23:51Brazil Head Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari insists Germany defeat "not all bad"
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July 08, 2014
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23:55Germany forward Miroslav Klose "truly happy" to break Ronaldo's World Cup scoring record
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July 07, 2014
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22:22Germany Head Coach Joachim Low wary of "robust" Brazil
22:05Maicon disappointed with refereeing on Neymar challenge
July 06, 2014
09:25Sambafoot Sunday: Ney Problem - Can Brazil Cope Without Neymar?
July 05, 2014
23:45Argentina forward Lionel Messi aiming for the World Cup final
23:30Medic insists vertebra injury will not compromise Neymar’s career
July 04, 2014
23:59Thiago Silva defends emotional Brazil
23:55James Rodriguez: David Luiz told me I was a good player
23:50David Luiz looks forward to "classic" encounter with Germany
23:47David Luiz: Colombia would have gone further if they “hadn't come up against Brazil”
15:34Luiz Felipe Scolari feels Brazil’s lack of a rivalry with Colombia will allow his players to be “more at ease'
July 03, 2014
18:58Brazil v Colombia – Preview
July 02, 2014
22:14Neymar confirms he is fit to face Colombia
22:10Colombia Head Coach Jose Pekerman confident his side can upset Brazil
22:06Neymar insists he can fit in any formation amid rumours that Luiz Felipe Scolari will switch to a 3-5-2 against Colombia
22:02Neymar happy for Brazil to win 1-0 against Colombia
July 01, 2014
23:24Fernandinho confident Brazil can handle expectations
June 30, 2014
16:29Brazil Head Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari unsure whether Neymar will be fit to face Colombia
16:24Brazil Head Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari compares Neymar to Cristiano Ronaldo
June 29, 2014
23:11Diego Maradona: "Chile deserved to go through"
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June 26, 2014
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June 16, 2014
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June 09, 2014
23:18Italy forward Lorenzo Insigne insists Italy’s poor defending in victory against Fluminense is “not important”
23:12Italy forward Ciro Immobile “excited” with hat-trick against Fluminense
22:56Italy Head Coach Cesare Prandelli pleased with Fluminense victory
22:52Italy Head Coach Cesare Prandelli delighted with Brazilian support
June 07, 2014
23:32Italy line up confirmed for Fluminense friendly
May 19, 2014
22:13Portugal Manager Paulo Bento names his 23-man 2014 FIFA World Cup squad
May 18, 2014
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April 13, 2014
08:34Sambafoot Sunday: Brazilian Clubs' Libertadores Numbers Game
April 06, 2014
09:20Sambafoot Sunday: Atlético Mineiro's Anelka Interest Should be the Norm
February 14, 2014
12:23Shakhtar Donetsk: President decided to support Maicon’s family
February 09, 2014
09:25Sambafoot Sunday: Where’s Wallyson? Botafogo find their new hero post-Seedorf
January 26, 2014
10:09Sambafoot Sunday: Cruciate curse affects Seleção hopes of three midfielders
December 01, 2013
13:36Sambafoot Sunday: Could Éverton Ribeiro Crack Europe?
November 25, 2013
11:39Brasileirão Week 36 round up: Vasco shock champions to stay in contention while defeat leaves Ponte Preta on the brink
November 24, 2013
10:17Sambafoot Sunday: Palmeiras Promoted with Chapecoense in Tow
November 17, 2013
12:00Palmeiras secure Brasileirão Série B title with 3-0 win against Boa Esporte
November 12, 2013
08:42Relegation threatened Fluminense sack head coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo
November 10, 2013
12:59Sambafoot Sunday: Atlético Paranaense's hurricane season
November 09, 2013
10:05Drummer angers Flamengo fans
November 04, 2013
13:04Brasileirão week 32 round-up: Big win for Vasco as in-form Goiás maintain top four push
November 03, 2013
17:31Sambafoot Sunday: Surprise Packages in the 2013 Brasileirão
October 28, 2013
11:31Brasileirão Week 31 round up: Vital win for Ponte Preta while Goiás maintain top four push
October 21, 2013
13:21Olympique Marseille without defender Lucas Mendes for Napoli fixture
12:12Injury rules Bayern Munich defender Dante out of Viktoria Plzeň tie
October 20, 2013
23:50São Paulo president Juvenal Juvêncio admits interest in Lucas Moura loan return
October 18, 2013
11:47Diego Maradona dispute’s Pelé’s FIFA recognition
09:04Del Bosque: Costa approach no insult to current strikers
October 17, 2013
21:43Hard work is paying off insists Bayern Munich defender Rafinha
13:17Rodrigo Lasmar: Ronaldinho on track to be fit for the Club World Cup
October 16, 2013
19:53Report: Tottenham Hotspur set to offer Paulinho extended deal
09:12Report: São Paulo could terminate Lúcio’s contract if injury concerns prevail
October 13, 2013
18:32Brasileirão: Grêmio slip up as Vitoria and Santos grab victories
14:49Vanderlei Luxemburgo: ‘Simulation part of football’
October 09, 2013
20:37Mineiro learn Club World Cup fate
October 06, 2013
22:39Oswaldo de Oliveira in hospital after Botafogo defeat
11:55Sambafoot Sunday: Cruzeiro cruising at the top of the Brasileirão
October 04, 2013
23:52Internacional manager Dunga sacked
September 14, 2013
14:29Guerrero: Corinthians can still be champions
September 11, 2013
20:49Roberto Carlos: Anzhi could collapse
14:57Exeter City play down Brazil fears
September 07, 2013
14:12Atlético Madrid's Filipe Luis: Barca-Madrid dominance an injustice
September 06, 2013
19:04Santos announce tour of South East Asia
18:42São Paulo slump to defeat as Rogerio Ceni misses penalty
September 05, 2013
19:17Cruzeiro go four points clear after defeating Bahia
18:43Romário and Maradona fight against CONMEBOL corruption
September 03, 2013
21:29Marcelo Mattos says Botafogo will overcome difficulties
20:54Réver believes Atlético Mineiro can challenge for Brazilian title
September 02, 2013
23:21São Paulo to honour Brazil legend Leonidas da Silva
July 22, 2014
23:27Report: Cruzeiro set to hold talks with Milan over Robinho
23:16Former Internacional forward Ignacio Scocco set for Newell's Old Boys return
23:11Agent confirms Robinho offers amid interest from Cruzeiro and Orlando City
14:36Al-Wasl team manager Majed Obaidallah confirms loan signing of Fábio Lima from Atlético Goianiense
12:44Report: Juventus and Roma could move for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa following refusal to return to Ukraine
July 21, 2014
23:53Report: Barcelona to target São Paulo defender Rodrigo Caio
23:47La Liga newcomers Córdoba confirm the loan signing of forward Ryder Matos from Fiorentina
23:42Serie B newcomers Perugia sign veteran midfielder Rodrigo Taddei on a free transfer from Roma
23:352014 Brasileirão Round 11 summary: Internacional thump struggling Flamengo
July 19, 2014
23:01Report: Hellas Verona to target Cagliari forward Nenê
09:30Report: Chelsea set to move for Atlético de Madrid defender Miranda after completing deal for Filipe Luís
July 18, 2014
22:42Udinese complete the signing of midfielder Guilherme from Corinthians
22:34Robinho representative suggests temporary switch to Brazil is likely
22:31Representative confirms negotiations between Milan and Orlando City over Robinho
22:27Report: Livorno striker Paulinho set to join Al Arabi
17:542014 Brasileirão Round 10 summary: Newly promoted Sport Recife shock Botafogo
10:51Report: Genoa set to sign defender Edenílson on loan from Udinese
July 17, 2014
22:58Report: Sunderland forward Ignacio Scocco can't return to Newell's Old Boys until payment is settled with Internacional
22:53Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale bemoans lack of a second goalkeeper for Fluminense test
22:49Exeter City Manager Paul Tisdale expecting stern test against Fluminense
22:42Santos Head Coach Oswaldo de Oliveira hopeful for Robinho return
22:37Former Croatia international Eduardo signs for Flamengo
22:33New Flamengo signing Eduardo retires from international football
July 16, 2014
23:07Daniel Alves defends new Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez
23:02Daniel Alves wants Barcelona stay
22:57Report: Robinho to Santos before joining Kaka at Orlando City
22:52Livorno forward Paulinho considering a number of offers
July 14, 2014
23:52Hellas Verona confirm signing of Romulo from Fiorentina
23:12Cafu expects former Chelsea defender Ashley Cole to succeed at Roma
23:12Maicon wants a new deal at Roma
July 12, 2014
23:39Dodo hails Walter Mazzarri influence in Internazionale move
July 11, 2014
23:01Milan Vice President Adriano Galliani hails capture of Brazilian defender Alex
22:58Internazionale defender Juan Jesus talks Nemanja Vidic and Alexandre Pato
22:54Internazionale defender Juan Jesus thankful for fans support after long injury layoff
22:46Rodrigo Taddei open to Fiorentina switch
July 09, 2014
23:59Goalkeeper Diego Alves signs a new five year deal with Valencia
23:36Dodo thanks Roma fans after agreeing Internazionale move
July 07, 2014
22:16Report: Roma defender Dodo set to join Internazionale on loan
22:11Report: Alexandre Pato's wage demands are holding up potential Internazionale move
22:01Maicon confident he will win the Scudetto with Roma
July 02, 2014
22:21Kaka expects Robinho to join him in Major League Soccer
July 01, 2014
23:14Ethics committee confirms claims of match fixing against Cameroon will be investigated
23:13Angel Di Maria believes Argentina deserved to beat Switzerland
23:12Chelsea confirm signing of Atlético Madrid forward Diego Costa
June 30, 2014
16:40Agent Tadeu Cruz denies that Kaka has left Milan for family reasons
16:34Agent Tadeu Cruz confirms that Kaka is likely to join Sao Paulo before moving on to Orlando City
June 28, 2014
21:16Chievo Verona sign defender Edimar from CFR Cluj on a free transfer
11:39Neymar hails role of Santos President Luis Álvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro and Pelé in decision to snub Chelsea in 2010
June 27, 2014
23:17Kaka expects to be at Milan for the start of pre-season
14:28Play-maker Paulo Henrique Ganso hopes to have the opportunity to play alongside Kaká at São Paulo
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