Tim Vickery Column: Scolari will name the players he trusts to win the World Cup

Dani Alves’ adaptability could give Brazil more options - Action Images
There is no messing around from Luiz Felipe Scolari, no preliminary list of 30 players to be whittled down later. It will be straight in on Wednesday with the naming of the 23 players who will represent Brazil in the World Cup.

Sure, if there are injuries then there is time to make a change.  But, characteristically, Scolari right from the off fills his chosen 23 with confidence – ‘you are the players,’ he is saying ‘who I trust to win the tournament.’

So who will they be?  Many select themselves.  The full strength first team has been evident for a while now – from those friendlies against England and France before last year’s Confederations Cup.  In a 4-2-3-1 formation, the starting line up reads as follows; Julio Cesar; Daniel Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo; Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho; Hulk, Oscar, Neymar; Fred.

There could be changes during the World Cup – there could even be changes before if some of the players are looking below par in training.  But this is the team that has played together and won together, and all of these players are guaranteed a place in the squad.

Since finding his team, Scolari has been able to have a look at options and alternatives.  As he comes to name his squad, the problem – and it is a lovely problem to have – is that almost everything has worked.  The only way that Scolari can pick 23 is by leaving out people who have not let him down.  Let us have a look at some of the areas where there is room for doubt.

Goalkeepers

Julio Cesar is the clear preference as first choice, with Jefferson his reserve.  The third choice would seem to be between Victor of Atletico Mineiro and Diego Cavalieri of Fluminense, with the former probably in the lead.

In an ideal world, this role would go to a young keeper, as part of his preparation for future World Cups, but no obvious candidate has emerged.  My personal view is that Fabio of Cruzeiro is very unfortunate not to be in the running.

Full backs

Daniel Alves on the right and Marcelo on the left are unquestionably the first choices.  But there is much less certainty about their reserves.  The veteran Maicon was successfully recalled at right back after the Confederations Cup, but two months ago against South Africa Scolari opted to have a look at Rafinha, now getting a regular game at Bayern Munich.

He did well, showing mature defensive covering, and at the end of a tiring club season it could be that his relative youth gives him the nod over Maicon.

During the Confederations Cup the back-up left back was Filipe Luis, who clearly did not impress as he has not been called up since.  Maxwell of PSG has instead been called up, and has done well as a steadier alternative to the talented but hot tempered Marcelo.  But might the form of Filipe Luis for Atletico Madrid bring him back into contention?

Another scenario, unlikely but not completely impossible, is not to take a reserve left back, and thus open up space for an extra attacking player.  Scolari indicated that this is not entirely out of the question when he tried out Daniel Alves at left back for a few minutes against South Africa, possibly a rehearsal for an emergency in the World Cup.

Centre backs

Captain Thiago Silva and David Luiz will start, with the left footed Dante well established as a reserve.  But who will be the fourth centre back?

Miranda’s form for Atletico Madrid makes him hard to overlook.  But he has not featured since coming on as a substitute for the closing minutes of Scolari’s first match in charge, the 2-1 defeat away to England last February.  Since then a number of other candidates have been able to push their claim.

Dede of Cruzeiro, strapping and quick, is clearly one.  Henrique of Napoli is a Scolari favourite, and comes with the added bonus of being comfortable in the midfield holding role.  But maybe the front runner is Marquinhos of PSG, a young defender with a huge future.  This will be one of the most difficult decisions that Brazil’s coach has to make.

Central midfield

Luiz Gustavo is the holder – the team took shape as soon as he was introduced last year – and Paulinho alongside him with license to push forward.  Ramires is also a certainty.  He does not fit naturally into the 4-2-3-1, which was one of the reasons for his exclusion from the Confederations Cup.  His subsequent recall has added the variation of 4-3-3, with Hulk dropping to the bench.

Luiz Gustavo’s reserve since the Confederations Cup has been Lucas Leiva of Liverpool.  But he got injured at an unfortunate time, and lost momentum.  His presence in the squad now looks unlikely, especially since David Luiz (and Henrique, if included) can cover this position.  Paulinho’s reserve over the last year and a half has been Hernanes – who will be waiting very nervously for news from Rio on Wednesday.  Two months ago Fernandinho of Manchester City was recalled for the game against South Africa, a result of his sound club form.  In the first half he played in the Luiz Gustavo role, without looking entirely comfortable.  After the interval he pushed up into Paulinho’s normal position and did much better, crowning his display with a cracking goal.  Fernandinho is probably in, which leaves Hernanes sweating.  There is room for both, but that means one less attacker.

The line of three

Hulk’s immediate reserve would seem to be Ramires and the switch to 4-3-3.  Oscar is a vital player, an all-round midfielder whose versatility adds so much to the team.  There are doubts, though, about his level of fitness.  Might he be jaded after playing so much football in recent years?  Should that be the case, then his club-mate Willian is the man likely to step in.  And now comes the problem; who is Neymar’s reserve?  Assuming there is space for both Hernanes and Fernandinho, and assuming that two centre forwards are chosen, it would seem to come down to a straight choice between Bernard and Robinho.

Scolari fell in love with the former during the Confederations Cup, praising ‘the joy in his legs.’  But he might suffer from his settling in season with Shakhtar Donetsk.  A strong case can be made for Robinho; Scolari has complained about a lack of experience in his squad, and as well as this valuable commodity, Robinho also offers some extra versatility.  Bernard can play both flanks, but Robinho can do this and also operate in the ‘false nine’ role, for which he was recalled last November, when he ended up scoring the winner against Chile.

The only way to have both Bernard and Robinho would be to drop Hernanes, or do without a reserve left back.  This dilemma illustrates that there would seem to be very little hope for the likes of Lucas Moura, Phillippe Coutinho and Kaka, let alone Ronaldinho.  There simply is no space for them.

Centre forward

Scolari loves his target man – the first thing he did on his return to the national team was reinstate the figure of the centre forward.  But this is one area of his squad where he is not blessed with an embarrassment of riches.

Undisputed first choice is Fred of Fluminense, who was full of goals last year and has now recovered from a long lay off.  His injury record, though, makes it very unlikely that he will be the only player with these characteristics in the squad, which means that Jo of Atletico Mineiro will surely be included as well.  With Leandro Damiao out of form, it is hard to think of other candidates – this is one position, then, that will not cost Luiz Felipe Scolari too much sleep when he comes to name his 23.  We shall see if it costs him sleep once the tournament kicks off.

 

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April 01, 2015
19:04Agent Stefano Castagna suggests Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool want Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto
19:00Fiorentina goalkeeper Ciprian Tătărușanu praises counterpart Neto
18:51Agent Luciano Ramalho confirms Milan loanee Pablo Armero could move to Flamengo
16:51Homophobic Palmeiras fan rebuked on live TV
16:21Fluminense’s Walter in talks with Atletico-PR
16:19Hernane Brocador on Boca Juniors’ radar
16:15Chelsea lead charge for Douglas Costa
14:05Manchester United join the race for Roberto Firmino
13:55Lucas Leiva is raring to go for Liverpool
13:45PSG eye Barcelona star Neymar as a replacement for Ibrahimović
13:42Danilo has earned his Real Madrid move, says Lopetegui
13:39Neymar responds to Medel's accusation of play acting - 'I don't know who Gary Medel is'
13:38Juventus eye Chelsea duo
13:36Real Madrid confirm Danilo signing
13:33Neymar collects Samba Gold trophy
March 31, 2015
13:00Dunga reveals the huge pressure in managing Seleção
13:00Neymar angered by rough treatment from Chile
13:00Lucas Silva open to loan move from Real Madrid
13:00Dunga praises attacking contribution of Chelsea's Willian
13:00Neymar closing in on Pelé
12:56Andreas Pereira and Manchester United set for crunch talks
12:47Robinho: 'I want to stay at Santos'
12:32Fabinho confident ahead of the season run in with Monaco
08:02Report: Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United to compete for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim attacking midfielder Roberto Firmino
07:22Report: Avellino's Rodrigo Ely and Livorno full-back Maicon turn down Italy to represent Brazil
March 30, 2015
15:50Hoffenheim forward Roberto Firmino hails Brazil Head Coach Dunga
13:16Liverpool's Glen Johnson can replace Dani Alves at Barcelona
13:14Brazil players are determined to make amends, says Dunga
13:12Third-party sent written demand to all parties and persons involved in Neymar deal
13:10Dani Alves: 'My heart is happy in Barcelona'
13:07Dunga: 'Neymar will be judged on World Cup wins'
12:37Liverpool's Lucas thrilled to meet Pele
12:22Liverpool eye a shock swoop for Chelsea's Oscar
12:11Alan Shearer tip's Chelsea's Costa for the golden boot
12:04Filipe Luís: 'I plan to stay at Chelsea'
March 29, 2015
17:55Leonardo concedes it “will be difficult” for him to return to Paris Saint-Germain
17:53Roberto Firmino's strike ensures victory for a poor Brazil against Chile
15:32Brazil x Chile: Live
14:30Chelsea's Filipe Luis: "Alexis Sanchez is really dangerous"
14:07Report: Expected Brazil line up for Chile friendly
13:59Chile Head Coach Jorge Sampaoli concedes he will have to rotate for Brazil friendly
13:17Lucas-Liverpool: "Philippe Coutinho could be anything he wants to be"
12:47Sampdoria forward Eder pleased to silence critics with debut Italy goal
March 28, 2015
20:30Arsenal centre-back Gabriel Paulista: "I want to defend and defend well"
19:57Dunga hails Chelsa's Willian as key player for Brazil
19:50Dunga: "Neymar to overhaul Pele's Brazil goal record"
19:45Dunga: "Players recuperate after 72 hours"
19:42Dunga: "No more new players for the Copa America"
19:32Lucas-Liverpool: "It will be just like old times again"
18:25Top European club chasing Chelsea Midfielder Oscar
April 01, 2015
13:45PSG eye Barcelona star Neymar as a replacement for Ibrahimović
13:42Danilo has earned his Real Madrid move, says Lopetegui
13:39Neymar responds to Medel's accusation of play acting - 'I don't know who Gary Medel is'
13:36Real Madrid confirm Danilo signing
13:33Neymar collects Samba Gold trophy
March 31, 2015
13:00Neymar closing in on Pelé
13:00Dunga praises attacking contribution of Chelsea's Willian
13:00Lucas Silva open to loan move from Real Madrid
13:00Neymar angered by rough treatment from Chile
13:00Dunga reveals the huge pressure in managing Seleção
March 30, 2015
13:16Liverpool's Glen Johnson can replace Dani Alves at Barcelona
13:14Brazil players are determined to make amends, says Dunga
13:12Third-party sent written demand to all parties and persons involved in Neymar deal
13:10Dani Alves: 'My heart is happy in Barcelona'
13:07Dunga: 'Neymar will be judged on World Cup wins'
March 28, 2015
13:25Barcelona president: 'We signed Neymar to be our Beckham'
13:20Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho says he must score more goals to be considered as one of the best midfielders in Europe
13:16Arsenal's Alexis Sánchez excited for Chile's special rematch against Brazil
13:14Dunga thinks Brazil have rediscovered their self-belief
13:12Barça president Bartomeu to Judge Ruz: 'Tito Vilanova asked us to sign Neymar a year earlier'
March 27, 2015
13:29Manchester United and Liverpool still battling for Dani Alves
13:27Pelé: 'Impossible for Neymar to replace me'
13:25Dunga says confidence and balance key to Brazil's winning run
13:22Dani Alves releases charity single with former Barcelona keeper José Pinto
13:20Victory over France not a revenge, says Neymar
March 26, 2015
13:35Dunga says 1998 World Cup final defeat to France still hurts
13:34Neymar won't convince Manchester United target Danilo to sign for Barcelona
13:32Philippe Coutinho says Liverpool have a good chance of securing a top-four
13:30Dunga says sky is the limit for Neymar
13:28Neymar's father defends Barcelona deal
March 25, 2015
13:00Kaká's dream XI revealed; Messi not included
13:00Roberto Firmino set to start for Brazil against France
13:00Danilo proud of Real Madrid interest
13:00Neymar - The most expensive player in history?
13:00Kaká thinks he was better than Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
March 24, 2015
13:00Neymar looks forward to the friendly against France
13:00Bayern will not sell Dante, insists Sammer
13:00Luis Suárez: 'Neymar is right to be selfish'
13:00Marcelo says Real Madrid will never surrender
13:00Neymar case - Public prosecutor requests prison sentence for Sandro Rosell and Bartomeu
March 23, 2015
13:00Liverpool landlord: 'I beat Pele - and bit him too!'
13:00Liverpool target Felipe Anderson's contract renewed by Lazio
13:00Dani Alves assists winning goal in El Clásico
13:00Messi is better than Cristiano, says Pelé
13:00Felipe Anderson: 'Lazio are improving every game'
March 21, 2015
13:00Arsenal want Charles Aránguiz from Internacional
13:00Messi, Suárez and Neymar have scored 55 league goals this season
13:00Former West Brom striker faces ban after crossing Dani Alves' ex-wife
13:00Arsenal goalkeeper Ospina reveals frustration over Colombia's World Cup loss to Brazil
13:00São Paulo trying to take Nathan from Atlético Paranaense
January 19, 2015
20:37Willian: 'Chelsea controlled the game'
January 11, 2015
19:49Coritiba confirm the signings of Negueba and Pedro Ken
17:17De Arrascaeta to Internacional can be announced any time now, says Defensor president
January 04, 2015
16:03Mircea Lucescu: Tour of Brazil will become part of Shakhtar history
15:08Lucescu: Shakhtar’s Brazil tour will be part of the history
January 03, 2015
12:16Sergei Palkin: It’s important for us to play with the top teams of the Brazilian league
January 02, 2015
16:49Cruzeiro confirm survey from Mexico regarding Anselmo Ramon
15:28Internacional have competition from Europe for De Arrascaeta
14:16No contacts with Internacional, says Sandro's agent
14:13Shakhtar goes on tour across Brazil
December 30, 2014
17:18Fluminense director says no offer for Darío Conca
December 25, 2014
14:37Leandro Damião to Cruzeiro is back on
June 26, 2014
14:33Report: Flamengo one of eight clubs who have enquired about loaning Internazionale midfielder Rubén Botta
June 16, 2014
11:35Brazil Head Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari backs Portugal to recovery from heavy Germany defeat
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
19:09Sambafoot Sunday: Botafogo's Shaky Start to 2014
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
April 01, 2015
19:04Agent Stefano Castagna suggests Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool want Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto
19:00Fiorentina goalkeeper Ciprian Tătărușanu praises counterpart Neto
18:51Agent Luciano Ramalho confirms Milan loanee Pablo Armero could move to Flamengo
March 31, 2015
08:02Report: Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United to compete for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim attacking midfielder Roberto Firmino
07:22Report: Avellino's Rodrigo Ely and Livorno full-back Maicon turn down Italy to represent Brazil
March 30, 2015
15:50Hoffenheim forward Roberto Firmino hails Brazil Head Coach Dunga
March 29, 2015
17:55Leonardo concedes it “will be difficult” for him to return to Paris Saint-Germain
14:07Report: Expected Brazil line up for Chile friendly
13:59Chile Head Coach Jorge Sampaoli concedes he will have to rotate for Brazil friendly
12:47Sampdoria forward Eder pleased to silence critics with debut Italy goal
March 28, 2015
18:25Top European club chasing Chelsea Midfielder Oscar
17:15Chelsea star Ramires facing summer Stamford Bridge exit
March 25, 2015
17:17Report: Arsenal and Chelsea to battle over Internacional midfielder Charles Aranguiz
16:29Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano hints at December exit
15:56Sampdoria forward Eder believes controversy over Italy call up is "nonsense"
March 23, 2015
17:00FIGC President Carlo Tavecchio defends decision to select Sampdoria forward Eder for Italy
17:00Agent unhappy with controversy surrounding Sampdoria forward Eder's selection for Italy
March 22, 2015
15:28Corinthians Head Coach Tite hails defender Gil following Brazil call up
13:32Philippe Coutinho insists Liverpool "will do everything to come out victorious" against Manchester United
12:54Agent Andrea Bagnoli admits Italy call up is a "dream come true" for Sampdoria forward Éder
March 19, 2015
17:15Chelsea use former player Deco to sign Fluminense's star
March 18, 2015
14:05Report: Internazionale step up pursuit of Corinthians forward Paolo Guerrero
13:58Almeria loanee Wellington Silva confident of making an impression at Arsenal next season
13:54Report: Midfielder Wellington Silva in talks with Arsenal over new contract
March 17, 2015
21:48Manchester United have become latest English club to watch Roberto Firmino
20:45Twente almost signed Chelsea's Diego Costa
17:42Palmeiras Head Coach Oswaldo de Oliveira explains why midfielder Jorge Valdivia will not link up with Chile
17:37Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson hopes for Brazil call up and closes in on new contract
17:28Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson believes in Champions League qualification
March 16, 2015
12:33Intermediary Eduardo Valdes confirms Chelsea and Juventus interest in Fluminense forward Kenedy
12:23Intermediary Eduardo Valdes suggests São Paulo loanee Alexandre Pato will eventually move to England or Italy
March 15, 2015
21:10Report: Chelsea agree €25.3 million deal for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa
21:05Report: Sampdoria forward Eder to be called up by Italy Head Coach Antonio Conte
March 13, 2015
17:08Report: Proposal made to add play-offs to Brasileirão campaign has presidential support
15:56Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho insists he missed Leicester City game due to injury and looks to Burnley
15:05Defender Felipe admits Internazionale move happened quickly
14:04Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho explains alleged altercation with captain Vincent Kompany
13:12Marcelo Fernandes named as new Santos Head Coach
March 11, 2015
16:52Report: Barcelona consider Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa as possible replacement for Pedro
15:38Corinthians Head Coach Tite believes goalkeeper Cássio Ramos deserves Brazil call up
14:43São Paulo loanee Alexandre Pato disappointed to be barred from playing against owners Corinthians
14:04Forward Luiz Adriano does not expect Shakhtar Donetsk to be intimidated when they face Bayern Munich at Allianz Arena
13:05Atlético de Madrid midfielder Cristian Rodríguez arrives in Brazil after agreeing to join Grêmio on loan
March 10, 2015
19:07Paris Saint-Germain manager Laurent Blanc wary of "provocative" Chelsea forward Diego Costa
17:42Report: Manchester United submit bid for Fluminense forward Kenedy
17:34Report: Roma defender Maicon could return for Europa League tie against Fiorentina
15:05EXCLUSIVE-Wellington Silva: "I am ready now to play for Arsenal"
March 08, 2015
21:24Report: Manchester United continue to push for Fluminense starlet Kenedy
21:16Santos loanee Robinho delighted to earn Brazil recall
21:11Parma loanee Cristian Rodriguez suggests he is set to move on to Gremio.
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