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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May 24, 2015
15:51Report: Internazionale told to increase offer for Udinese midfielder Allan
14:06Corinthians President Roberto de Andrade concedes forward Paolo Guerrero is likely to move on
13:49Report: Internazionale step up pursuit of Cruzeiro defender Mayke
May 23, 2015
14:18Arsenal reportedly make move for Dani Alves
14:16Neymar case moved to Barcelona
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14:13Chelsea are preparing an offer for Lazio's Felipe Anderson
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May 22, 2015
19:54Palmeiras duo set to face former club Goiás
19:47Vagner Love still not fit enough for Corinthians starting place
19:37Coutinho breaks out into Samba routine with Liverpool teammates
19:29Simeone praises Chelsea’s Filipe Luis
19:23Inter Milan target Liverpool’s Lucas
18:42Neymar insists Dunga can lead Brazil back to the top
18:39Cruzeiro takes advantage in Copa Libertadores quarterfinal against River Plate
18:38Ronaldinho reacts furiously after bring substituted
18:37David Luiz denies claims he is a virgin
18:33Internacional beaten by Santa Fé in Libertadores quarterfinal
13:09Dani Alves set to leave Barcelona
12:51David Luiz sheds light on rumours regarding his private life
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12:16Lucas Leiva set to leave Liverpool for Inter Milan
May 21, 2015
19:43Liverpool’s Gerrard pays tribute to ‘next big thing’ Coutinho
19:32Lucas congratulates Coutinho on Liverpool awards
19:29Atletico Madrid president Cerezo: ‘Chelsea’s Filipe Luis one of the best full-backs in the world’
19:22Manchester United’s Rafael could be the man for West Ham
19:12Siqueira backs Atlético Madrid bid for Chelsea’s Filipe Luis
19:01Harry Redknapp to Paulinho: ‘get your act together’
14:03Bebeto thinks Copa América is a great opportunity to erase Brazil's World Cup disaster
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May 20, 2015
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15:14Palmeiras forward Dudu given six month suspension for pushing referee Guilherme Ceretta de Lima
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14:12Monaco confirm permanent signing of Fabinho
14:11Luiz Felipe Scolari resigns from Grêmio
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13:50Report: Atlético Mineiro and São Paulo to compete to sign Internazionale full-back Jonathan Moreira
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13:30Heurelho Gomes launches an attack on Tottenham Hotspur
13:21Philippe Coutinho bags four accolades at Liverpool's end of season awards
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May 19, 2015
14:24Rafael and Fernandinho enjoy night out with Coutinho and Lucas of Liverpool
14:22CBF rejects claims that Brazil squad selection are influenced by sponsor
May 23, 2015
14:18Arsenal reportedly make move for Dani Alves
14:16Neymar case moved to Barcelona
14:14Former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp blasts Paulinho
14:13Chelsea are preparing an offer for Lazio's Felipe Anderson
14:05Liverpool midfielder Lucas includes Neymar and Thiago Silva in his fantasy team
May 22, 2015
18:42Neymar insists Dunga can lead Brazil back to the top
18:39Cruzeiro takes advantage in Copa Libertadores quarterfinal against River Plate
18:38Ronaldinho reacts furiously after bring substituted
18:37David Luiz denies claims he is a virgin
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May 21, 2015
14:03Bebeto thinks Copa América is a great opportunity to erase Brazil's World Cup disaster
14:01Ex-goalkeeper Cláudio Taffarel hopeful Brazil can restore reputation at Copa América
14:00Neymar comes second in the most marketable athlete list
13:58Fenômeno Ronaldo chooses his dream five-a-side team
13:56Brazil call up Fred and Felipe Anderson for friendlies against Mexico and Honduras
12:48The Best in Brazil’s Pantheon?
May 20, 2015
14:15Exeter City to host Fluminense U19 side
14:14Sport Recife furious over late Flamengo equaliser at the Maracanã
14:12Monaco confirm permanent signing of Fabinho
14:11Luiz Felipe Scolari resigns from Grêmio
14:06Nathan won't be in Chelsea's squad next season
May 19, 2015
14:24Rafael and Fernandinho enjoy night out with Coutinho and Lucas of Liverpool
14:22CBF rejects claims that Brazil squad selection are influenced by sponsor
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May 18, 2015
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May 16, 2015
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May 15, 2015
13:54Cristián Rodríguez leaves Grêmio and heads to Uruguay
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May 14, 2015
13:32Corinthians knocked out from Copa Libertadores
13:30Pep Guardiola: 'I can compare Messi to Pelé'
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13:28Barcelona to face tax fraud trial over Neymar's transfer
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May 13, 2015
13:00Robinho rescinds his Milan contract
13:00Neymar's double takes Barcelona to Champions League final
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May 11, 2015
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January 19, 2015
20:37Willian: 'Chelsea controlled the game'
January 11, 2015
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January 04, 2015
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January 02, 2015
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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
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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
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December 01, 2013
13:36Sambafoot Sunday: Could Éverton Ribeiro Crack Europe?
November 25, 2013
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November 12, 2013
08:42Relegation threatened Fluminense sack head coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo
November 10, 2013
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November 09, 2013
10:05Drummer angers Flamengo fans
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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
May 24, 2015
15:51Report: Internazionale told to increase offer for Udinese midfielder Allan
14:06Corinthians President Roberto de Andrade concedes forward Paolo Guerrero is likely to move on
13:49Report: Internazionale step up pursuit of Cruzeiro defender Mayke
May 20, 2015
18:56Internazionale Vice-President Javier Zanetti hopeful of signing Thiago Motta back from Paris Saint-Germain
15:14Palmeiras forward Dudu given six month suspension for pushing referee Guilherme Ceretta de Lima
14:50Former Newcastle United midfielder Nolberto Solano to join Peru coaching staff for 2015 Copa América
13:50Report: Atlético Mineiro and São Paulo to compete to sign Internazionale full-back Jonathan Moreira
13:15Report: Chelsea consider selling Oscar to fund move for Liverpool midfielder Raheem Stirling
May 18, 2015
14:31Maxwell concedes Paris Saint-Germain 'suffered a lot' this season
14:14Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva pleased with how team coped with season's demands
12:57Corinthians midfielder Elias hopes fans will remain supportive to the team
May 13, 2015
18:54Flamengo midfielder Víctor Cáceres included in provisional Paraguay squad for 2015 Copa América
15:24Report: Major League Soccer outfit Seattle Sounders set to sign midfielder Thomás on loan from Flamengo
15:04Brasileirão based duo Pablo Armero and Edwin Valencia included in Colombia's provisional Copa América squad
13:07Report: Milan willing to move on defender Alex as part of squad overhaul
12:50Agent Marisa Alija claims Robinho 'has some offers' after confirmation of Milan contract termination
May 12, 2015
19:10Milan vice-president and C.E.O. Adriano Galliani refuses to rule out move for Santos forward Gabriel Barbosa
18:50Uruguay Head Coach Óscar Tabárez names three Brasileirão-based players in provisional 2015 Copa América squad
17:32Argentina Head Coach Gerardo Martino names 30 man provisional squad for 2015 Copa América
17:05Mexico Head Coach Miguel Herrera names 23 man squad for 2015 Copa América
09:13Palmeiras play-maker Jorge Valdivia suspended for two matches for calling referees 'thieves'
May 11, 2015
15:50Orlando City SC manager Adrian Heath hails Kaká role in New England Revolution comeback
13:12Report: Chelsea hope to conclude €6.25 million deal for Fluminense forward Kenedy
12:53Bayern Munich defender Rafinha optimistic about Barcelona comeback
May 10, 2015
19:08Report: Fiorentina latest outfit to consider move for Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho
17:14Report: Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus and Manchester United to compete for Fluminense teenager Gerson
14:16Brazil Head Coach Dunga to manage Seleção Olympic side at Rio 2016 following Alexandre Gallo dismissal
13:45Galatasaray presidential candidate Dursun Özbek will offer midfielder Felipe Melo new deal to ward off Flamengo interest
12:38Queens Park Rangers blocked from fielding midfielder Sandro at Manchester City due to visa issue
May 06, 2015
17:02Report: Chelsea consider selling Filipe Luís and Oscar to fund squad revamp
16:31Mazinho confident son Thiago will get a new contract with Bayern Munich
13:57Report: Beşiktaş to target Roma midfielder Marquinho when Al-Ittihad loan ends
May 05, 2015
09:32Agent admits reports linking Paris Saint-Germain's Thiago Motta to Internazionale are "flattering"
09:14Report: Crystal Palace bid for Sampdoria forward Éder
May 03, 2015
15:04Report: Cruzeiro in negotiations with Milan over possible deal for Robinho
12:39Report: Internazionale to target Udinese midfielder Allan in summer transfer window
May 01, 2015
09:32Report: Beşiktaş consider Palmeiras midfielder Arouca as possible replacement for Atiba Hutchinson
07:52Rômulo returns to training with Juventus following lengthy spell out injured
April 29, 2015
18:58Udinese Sporting Director Cristiano Giaretta discusses the future of in demand midfielder Allan
16:02Report: Barcelona to target Monaco defender Fabinho even if Daniel Alves stays
15:30Report: Borussia Dortmund to compete for Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho
14:47Daniel Carvalho: "It was my son who motivated me" to return to football and sign with Botafogo
13:58Milan owned goalkeeper Gabriel eager to remain with Carpi following promotion to Serie A
April 28, 2015
09:28Report: Roma defender Maicon unlikely to play again this season due to persistent knee injury
07:49Corinthians Director of Football Edu confident of securing deal for Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho
April 27, 2015
16:34Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho and Chelsea's Diego Costa named in PFA Team of the Year
15:26Marcelo hopes Real Madrid can push Barcelona all the way in battle for La Liga title
14:41Chelsea manager José Mourinho expects Oscar to be fit for Wednesday's clash with Leicester City
13:59Portland Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell admits it was a "real privilege" to play against Orlando City SC's Kaká
13:34Orlando City SC play-maker Kaká left frustrated after home loss to Toronto FC
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