Sambafoot Sunday: Scolari's Options Ahead of Brazil Squad Announcement
Sambafoot Sunday by James Nalton. The beat goes on...
Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari recently named eight players who’ll make up the core of his World Cup 2014 side, ahead of the full 23-man squad announcement this week (May 7th). The players mentioned will come as no surprise to followers of the Seleção, and the octet reaffirm the tactical set-up Brazil are likely employ during the tournament.
The four captains named by the Brazil manager make up the spine of the team. Tiago Silva and David Luiz are the most likely centre back partnership, and whilst either could wear the armband at some point in the tournament, PSG man Silva is should be the first choice when it comes to leading the side.
Luiz’s fluctuating form at Chelsea is unlikely to affect his place in the Brazil line-up, and despite not playing as a centre back for Chelsea since early March, Scolari will still use him in the centre of defence for the national team.
Fred of Fluminense, and Toronto FC’s Júlio César were the other captains named, giving two more names to tick off the 23-man list. Both players are back in action at club level after spending the latter part of 2013 in the football wilderness.
César couldn’t even make the bench at his former club QPR, but a loan move to Canada to play in Major League Soccer has at least given him game time.
Fred was out injured from September until the end of 2013, but is now back in action leading the line for Flu at the start of the 2014 Brazilian league season.
Scolari revealed four more names who’ll make the final cut when he spoke at the congress in São Judas University, São Paulo. He confirmed that Chelsea trio of Oscar, Willian, and Ramires would also make the squad, as well as out of form Tottenham midfielder Paulinho.
Despite the poor form at his club Paulinho is trusted by his national team coach, and is should begin the tournament in the starting eleven as the most advanced of a deeper lying midfield two.
Oscar has suffered a similar dip in form of late, but the Chelsea man will probably start for Brazil in one of the three attacking midfield berths. Willian will be pushing Hulk for another one of these attacking midfield spots, but Ramires will be used as a squad player and his versatility will add to the tactical flexibility of the group.
Scolari has his favourites, and the events of the last few months will have done little to change his mind when it comes to squad selection. Atlético Madrid duo Miranda and Felipe Luis would get into most national teams, but despite their outstanding performances for their club this season they’re still not certain to be in Brazil’s 23-man squad.
There is hope for the pair, however, in that there are a few doubts as to who will be picked as back-up players, including both full back positions and a fourth centre back (see predicted squad below).
The first XI is easier to guess. Gone is the 3-4-3 which won Scolari the cup in 2002, with the coach now preferring a 4-2-3-1 system which is no doubt influenced by Brazil’s technical coordinator Carlos Alberto Parreira.
The attacking midfield three in this system are likely to rotate, with Neymar being given the freer role. In most games you can expect one holding player and one box-to-box midfielder behind this attacking trio, but in some games Fernandinho could replace the more defensive midfielder, especially if the team is looking for more drive in attack.
In terms of the 23, there are question marks over a few of the squad places. The third goalkeeper is likely to be Victor of Atlético Mineiro, or Fluminense’s Diego Calavlieri, but the fourth choice centre back could one of a number of players.
At full back doubts remain as to who will be behind Dani Alves and Marcelo in the pecking order, and there’s still the chance that only three will be taken with Alves covering left back if required. If this were to happen it would open up a place in the squad further up the pitch.
There's always room for a wildcard in a 23-man squad, and Robinho, who impressed during his short time on the pitch in a recent friendly against Chile, could be that man. Elsewhere Lucas Leiva and Hernanes won't have given up hope of a call-up.
Goalkeepers: Júlio César (Toronto FC), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Atlético Mineiro)
Defenders: Dani Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (Roma), Thiago Silva (PSG), David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich), Marquinhos (PSG), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Maxwell (PSG)
Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Paulinho (Tottenham), Ramires (Chelsea), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Oscar (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Attackers: Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg), Neymar (Barcelona), Fred (Fluminense), Jô (Atlético Mineiro), Robinho (AC Milan)