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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July 28, 2014
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22:28Deco scores for both sides in his own farewell match
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July 19, 2014
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July 14, 2014
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July 12, 2014
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July 09, 2014
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July 05, 2014
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July 04, 2014
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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
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22:02Neymar happy for Brazil to win 1-0 against Colombia
July 01, 2014
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June 30, 2014
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June 26, 2014
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June 09, 2014
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22:56Italy Head Coach Cesare Prandelli pleased with Fluminense victory
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May 19, 2014
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May 18, 2014
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April 13, 2014
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April 06, 2014
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February 14, 2014
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January 26, 2014
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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
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17:31Sambafoot Sunday: Surprise Packages in the 2013 Brasileirão
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11:31Brasileirão Week 31 round up: Vital win for Ponte Preta while Goiás maintain top four push
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12:12Injury rules Bayern Munich defender Dante out of Viktoria Plzeň tie
October 20, 2013
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October 18, 2013
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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 28, 2014
18:06Report: Beşiktaş ready to bid €4 million for in demand Milan forward Robinho
15:14Forwards Luan and Wanderley excited to be working with Head Coach Paulo Bonamigo at Sharjah SC
13:33Report: Barcelona willing to let defender Daniel Alves leave for cut price fee
11:52Manchester United confirm defender Rafael will leave United States tour after suffering a groin injury
10:112014 Brasileirão Round 12 summary: Late Alex strike earns Coritiba dramatic win and Flamengo secure vital derby victory
July 27, 2014
20:18Chelsea manager José Mourinho expects Diego Costa to adapt to the Premier League
16:51Representative suggests Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fernando could join Fiorentina
14:30Sambafoot Sunday: Brazilian Soccer - Can Kaká Bring Magic to Orlando City?
14:01Hellas Verona Sporting Director Sean Sogliano confirms negotiations with Juventus for midfielder Rômulo are at an "advanced stage"
12:31Hellas Verona Head Coach Andrea Mandorlini admits Juventus move would be a "chance of a lifetime" for midfielder Rômulo
July 26, 2014
22:33Report: Flamengo putting a plan in place to sign Robinho from Milan
13:04Hellas Verona confirm the signing of Nenê on a free transfer from Cagliari
July 25, 2014
22:58Report: Juventus close in on deal for Hellas Verona midfielder Romulo
18:33Napoli midfielder Jorginho admits he would "immediately accept" a call up to the Italy national team
15:20Report: Botafogo set to sign Shandong Luneng Taishan teenager Tang Shi after successful trial
12:20Report: Fiorentina make loan offer for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fernando
10:10Report: Juventus hold negotiations with Hellas Verona for midfielder Rômulo
08:44Report: Palermo to target Sampdoria forward Éder
July 23, 2014
21:19Flamengo reappoint Vanderlei Luxemburgo as Head Coach following Ney Franco sacking
19:42Santos Vice-President Odílio Rodrigues Filho admits Robinho deal will be "a difficult operation"
15:17Report: Werder Bremen set to sign Internacional defender Cláudio Winck
13:43President Enrique Cerezo believes Atlético de Madrid can cope with Diego Costa and Filipe Luís sales and refutes Miranda rumours
10:07Report: Roma in negotiations with São Paulo to re-sign defender Rafael Tolói
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
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