Tim Vickery Column: Some thoughts on the Brazil squad announced last week

Bernard will be called upon if Brazil need to change a game - Reuters
This last time week Brazil’s World Cup squad was speculation. Now it is reality. Luiz Felipe Scolari has descended from the mountain and named his group of 23 players.

A little over a month ago I had to predict the squad for World Soccer magazine.  I was wrong three times, all of them close calls.  I thought that Rafinha’s relative youth would win the day against Maicon in the race to be reserve right back.  I went for Robinho over Bernard – and time may well tell whether Scolari has made a mistake with this one.  It is a vital position.  The make up of any squad should have a likely first team, a number of variations – and a figure able to come off the bench and change the course of the game.  Imagine the situation; in one of the knock-out games Brazil are losing with twenty minutes to go, and the opponents are looking comfortable in defence.  Who can come on and change things, open up space, provide some individual inspiration?  This is the post that Bernard now occupies – Scolari is showing huge faith in the young winger.

My third error would have been avoided had I listened to my own instincts.  I had convinced myself that the fourth centre-back position would go to Henrique.  But early last month I went to interview Oscar Bernardi, a great centre back of the past, for a forthcoming documentary on Brazil’s 1982 team.  We talked about the composition of the squad, and he was convinced that, as part of preparation for future campaigns, Marquinhos of PSG would be named.  I bowed to his knowledge and contacts – and got it wrong.

Henrique became a logical choice from the moment that Fernandinho of Manchester City forced his way in.  As I argued last week, against South Africa in March Fernandinho played an unconvincing first half in the holding midfield role, and then did much better after the break when he was pushed forward into Paulinho’s slot.  His inclusion meant there was no room for Lucas Leiva, leaving Scolari without a natural reserve for the holding position – identified last year as a vital part of Brazil’s defensive system, when Luiz Gustavo established himself in the side.  But an occupational hazard of the defensive midfielder is the possibility of picking up cards – meaning that Scolari felt the need to include more cover for this position.  He knows Henrique well from their time together at Palmeiras, where the player was often used in midfield.  As befits one of the fringe members of the squad, Henrique has the versatility to provide cover in two functions.

Henrique’s call up, then, was not so hard to predict.  The fact that in Brazil it has been treated as something of a shock is an eloquent symbol of the lack of surprise, and the absence of controversy, in Scolari’s list of 23.

But that is not how it looks from the other side of the Atlantic.  Those whose primary focus is European club football have been scratching their heads at some of Scolari’s decisions – or more specifically, some of those he has left out.

Some – and you would surely have to be in Europe to think this – are shocked by the absence of Ronaldinho.  They have clearly not seen much of him in the last few years.  They have, though, seen plenty of Phillipe Coutinho, who has enjoyed such an excellent season with Liverpool, and would not be out of place in the squad.  His problem, though, was the fact that Brazil are strong in his position, and everyone who has played there for Scolari has done well.  There was no space for him – or for Kaka, who, unlike Coutinho was given a chance to show Scolari what he could do, and was judged physically past his best.

A strong case could be made for the Atletico Madrid pair of Miranda and Filipe Luis – though the latter clearly did not impress in training during the Confederations Cup.  Miranda only played a few minutes under Scolari – the last few minutes of his first game back in charge, the 2-1 defeat against England last February.  Maybe he came close to being named in that final centre-back slot  - which Scolari said had taken up more time than any other during the selection meeting, and which finally went to Henrique.

And then there is the case of Lucas Moura, such a big money signing for Paris Saint Germain.  That huge transfer fee (in excess of 40 million Euros) hid the fact that the right winger remains more of a promise than a reality, a rapid dribbler with sustained pace, but still a work in progress.

Some of his problems started with success; in the 2011 South American Under-20 Championships he had enjoyed an interesting, if frustrating campaign, full of pace but one dimensioned and lacking in collective play.  The last game, though, was one of those in which everything went right.  It was against Uruguay, and would decide the title.  The Uruguayans had a man sent off early, and Lucas ran riot, scoring a hat-trick in a 6-0 rout.

It was the last impression and in the epic match of the year – and on his return to Brazil Lucas was treated as if he had played the entire tournament at the level of his great display against Uruguay.  This was not true, but, mistakenly, he was fast tracked into the senior Brazil squad for the Copa America.  It would have been far better had he gone to the World Under-20 Cup in Colombia, where, with Neymar on senior duty, Lucas would have had the responsibility to carry the attack.  He would have been obliged to operate in a more collective manner.

Instead, his presence in the senior squad allowed the hype to build around his transfer fee.  Then-Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson exclaimed that PSG paying so much for a 19 year promise was evidence that “the game’s gone mad.”  The young man at the centre of the insanity, Lucas Moura appears remarkably level headed.  But being surrounded with massive expectations at such an early stage of his career must inevitably take a toll, and he is still a long way from the finished article.

The 2018 World Cup may be his moment, but he has missed out this time - missed a chance to be part of that epic match of the year in his homeland.  During last year’s Confederations Cup he was head-to head against Bernard.  Lucas had the big name price tag, and started the race in front – he was the player the crowd called for whenever Brazil needed a goal.  But over the course of the campaign he was overtaken by Bernard, who comes with the extra bonus of looking comfortable on either flank.

Lucas then played himself out of contention with a very disappointing first half against Zambia last October, and Bernard made the most of his chance in the next game against Honduras, scoring the opening goal and ensuring that he is the man to whom Scolari is most likely to turn to if Brazil are desperate for a World Cup goal.

 

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Latest News.

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January 29, 2015
15:41Guerrero seeks Europe return
15:10Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho taking Ronaldinho inspiration
14:00Lucas Lima explains why he decided to stay at Santos
13:52Wolfsburg make bid for Fluminense's Kenedy; an English club also enquired
13:41Neymar dreams about first Olympic Gold medal
13:38Cruzeiro have a deal in place to sign talented youngster Pará from Bahia
13:34São Paulo's offer for Éder Álvarez Balanta has been rejected
11:42Manchester United's Rafael takes up golf while recovering
11:27Chelsea's Willian: 'There was more pressure at Corinthians'
11:17Chelsea's Diego Costa handed violent conduct charge
11:09Willian desperate for a trophy with Chelsea
January 28, 2015
20:41New Arsenal signing Gabriel Paulista has "huge desire to play in the Premier League"
18:11Pereira could be on way out at Manchester United
18:02Chelsea: Mourinho backs Diego Costa
17:02Milan and Valencia consider Paulinho bids
16:00Fluminense midfielder Darío Conca denies he is joining Shanghai SIPG for the money
15:51Report: Juventus close in on €11 million deal for Fluminense midfielder Gerson
15:43Grêmio officials deny defender Rhodolfo is set to join Internazionale on loan
14:43Atlético-PR's Marcos Guilherme wanted by Bayern Munich and Shakhtar
14:09Manchester City's Fernandinho chosen by Shakhtar fans as the best Brazilian in their history
14:06Roma's offer for Luiz Adriano considered low by Shakhtar
13:20Manchester United watch Benfica duo
13:06Phillippe Coutinho continues to impress
12:57Diego Costa accused of stamping
12:50Mourinho: 'My Ramires is back'
12:40Filipe Luís a doubt for Chelsea
12:22Cruzeiro want Felipe Gedoz from Brugge but a transfer is difficult
12:17Alexandre Pato interests Everton
January 27, 2015
23:37Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa praises Chelsea manager José Mourinho
21:52Report: Fenerbahçe target Grêmio forward Marcelo Moreno
21:39Cruzeiro agree deal to sign defender Eugenio Mena on a free transfer from Santos
21:29São Paulo loan defender Luis Ricardo to Brasileirão Série B side Botafogo
16:39Real Madrid target David Luiz
16:05Lucas Leiva reveals Gerrard's Wembley promise
15:41McDermott praises ‘outstanding’ Liverpool midfielder Coutinho
14:50São Paulo to sign Adrián Centurión from Racing
14:41Brazil U20's Marcos Guilherme says Uruguay's Facundo Castro called him a 'monkey' several times
12:05Luiz Adriano will only leave if the offer satisfies Shakhtar
12:00Éverton Ribeiro is in London to have his Al-Ahli medical
11:56Neymar thinks Cristiano Ronaldo should be punished
11:54Manchester United eye up Marquinhos
11:39Coutinho: 'We must dominate Chelsea'
11:30Chelsea's Diego Costa eyes European golden boot
11:02PSG target Manchester United's Pereira
January 26, 2015
22:32Midfielder Lucas Silva "felt emotional" during Real Madrid unveiling
22:03Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista given work permit to secure Arsenal move
21:55Report: Milan ready to rival Al Ahli Club bid for Cruzeiro midfielder Everton Ribeiro
21:45Report: Roma to pursue Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano as alternative to Chelsea's Mohamed Salah
16:41Douglas Costa will be happy to continue at Shakhtar if they reject Chelsea's offer
15:40Lucas Silva: 'Signing for Real Madrid is a dream'
January 29, 2015
14:00Lucas Lima explains why he decided to stay at Santos
13:52Wolfsburg make bid for Fluminense's Kenedy; an English club also enquired
13:41Neymar dreams about first Olympic Gold medal
13:38Cruzeiro have a deal in place to sign talented youngster Pará from Bahia
13:34São Paulo's offer for Éder Álvarez Balanta has been rejected
January 28, 2015
14:43Atlético-PR's Marcos Guilherme wanted by Bayern Munich and Shakhtar
14:09Manchester City's Fernandinho chosen by Shakhtar fans as the best Brazilian in their history
14:06Roma's offer for Luiz Adriano considered low by Shakhtar
12:22Cruzeiro want Felipe Gedoz from Brugge but a transfer is difficult
12:17Alexandre Pato interests Everton
January 27, 2015
14:50São Paulo to sign Adrián Centurión from Racing
14:41Brazil U20's Marcos Guilherme says Uruguay's Facundo Castro called him a 'monkey' several times
12:05Luiz Adriano will only leave if the offer satisfies Shakhtar
12:00Éverton Ribeiro is in London to have his Al-Ahli medical
11:56Neymar thinks Cristiano Ronaldo should be punished
January 26, 2015
16:41Douglas Costa will be happy to continue at Shakhtar if they reject Chelsea's offer
12:04Darío Conca will earn more than Neymar at Shanghai Dongya
11:53Luiz Adriano sees advantage in playing in Italy and admits AS Roma interest
11:47Paulinho wants clarification over his Tottenham future
January 24, 2015
13:45Santos trying to sell Patito Rodríguez
13:40Tite says he wants Jádson to stay at Corinthians
13:35Fluminense coach Cristóvão says Fred is close to renewing his contract
13:30Cruzeiro reveals other offers for Éverton Ribeiro
13:26Cruzeiro president says Real Madrid paid what they asked for Lucas Silva
January 23, 2015
12:46Internacional might find it difficult to hold onto Aránguiz
12:42Álvaro Pereira to leave São Paulo and join Estudiantes
12:40Santos sign Marquinhos Gabriel on loan
12:37Cruzeiro will unveil De Arrascaeta today
12:33Douglas Costa confirms Shakhtar rejected Chelsea's initial offer
January 22, 2015
13:47Douglas Coutinho will go to Holland, says Doyen Group's representative
13:43Fluminense striker Fred has an offer from China and can leave soon
13:25Bernard again says he's unhappy at Shakhtar
13:17Lucas Silva's father confirms the rapprochement of Real Madrid
13:11Real Madrid willing to meet Cruzeiro's demands for Lucas Silva
January 20, 2015
15:12Jádson wants to continue at Corinthians
15:07Flamengo wants Cícero and Walter from Fluminense
14:46Fluminense coach Cristóvão also admits Conca is on his way out of the club
14:12Agent says De Arrascaeta went to Cruzeiro because of Internacional's delay
14:05Brazil U20 recover from the loss against Uruguay and overcomes Venezuela
January 19, 2015
13:35Montillo intends to return to Brazil and has an offer from Flamengo
13:28Werley released by Grêmio to negotiate with Santos
13:25Grêmio confirms the deal to sign defender Erazo
13:20Conca travels to Brazil in a separate flight and is close to returning to China
13:15Cruzeiro confirm the deal to sign De Arrascaeta
January 18, 2015
14:34Atlético Mineiro president says transfer fee of Diego Tardelli was higher than what was announced
14:30Fluminense confirm that Conca can leave but the club needs compensation
14:24Conca has an offer from a Chinese team which is believed to be Shanghai Dongya
14:19Corinthians on the verge of completing Edu Dracena's signing
14:11Cruzeiro to complete the transfer of De Arrascaeta
January 17, 2015
20:12Cruzeiro's Dedé requires surgery and will be out for around 8 months
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
January 28, 2015
20:41New Arsenal signing Gabriel Paulista has "huge desire to play in the Premier League"
18:11Pereira could be on way out at Manchester United
17:02Milan and Valencia consider Paulinho bids
16:00Fluminense midfielder Darío Conca denies he is joining Shanghai SIPG for the money
15:51Report: Juventus close in on €11 million deal for Fluminense midfielder Gerson
15:43Grêmio officials deny defender Rhodolfo is set to join Internazionale on loan
January 27, 2015
23:37Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa praises Chelsea manager José Mourinho
21:52Report: Fenerbahçe target Grêmio forward Marcelo Moreno
21:39Cruzeiro agree deal to sign defender Eugenio Mena on a free transfer from Santos
21:29São Paulo loan defender Luis Ricardo to Brasileirão Série B side Botafogo
January 26, 2015
22:32Midfielder Lucas Silva "felt emotional" during Real Madrid unveiling
22:03Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista given work permit to secure Arsenal move
21:55Report: Milan ready to rival Al Ahli Club bid for Cruzeiro midfielder Everton Ribeiro
21:45Report: Roma to pursue Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano as alternative to Chelsea's Mohamed Salah
January 25, 2015
20:45Report: Queens Park Rangers offered Corinthians forward Alexandre Pato
20:40Manager Arsene Wenger confirms Arsenal are set to sign Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista
January 24, 2015
22:39Report: Everton latest club linked with Corinthians forward Alexandre Pato
22:30Report: Arsenal set to seal €14.7 million deal for Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista
January 23, 2015
22:13Report: Manchester United to rival Arsenal bid for Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista
22:02Sporting CP announce deal for Anzhi defender Ewerton
21:57Real Madrid sign Cruzeiro midfielder Lucas Silva
January 22, 2015
16:22Arsenal are close to finally signing Gabriel Paulista - Wenger confirmed
January 21, 2015
23:25Report: Manchester United quoted €86 million for Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos
15:46Forward Ryder Matos eager to earn a starting berth at Palmeiras after joining on loan from Fiorentina
15:37Report: Milan tracking Fluminense forward Kenedy
15:34Lazio confirm they have agreed a deal with Sporting CP for defender Maurício
January 20, 2015
15:10Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho hopeful of Wembley appearance
15:00Fluminense Head Coach Cristóvão Borges confirms offer from China for midfielder Darío Conca
January 19, 2015
15:56Shakhtar Donetsk manager Mircea Lucescu explains why his team are touring Brazil
15:20Barcelona confirm thigh injury will keep defender Douglas out for "three to four weeks"
15:10Report: Juventus to rival Roma bid for Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano
15:00Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista refusing to be distracted by reported Arsenal interest
15:00Report: Midfielder Lucas Leiva open to Liverpool exit amid Atlético de Madrid and Internazionale interest
January 18, 2015
22:59Galatasaray defender Alex Telles denies he has received offers to move elsewhere
January 17, 2015
22:46Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho prefers to praise team despite individual contribution of Diego Costa and Oscar to win over Swansea City
January 16, 2015
22:40Juan Jesus unhappy that with Giorgio Chiellini's handling of 'elbow' altercation
22:31Internazionale defender Juan Jesus explains 'elbow' on Giorgio Chiellini
17:19Report: São Paulo are back in for Darío Conca
January 15, 2015
16:37Report: Sampdoria consider Corinthians forward Alexandre Pato as alternative to Everton's Samuel Eto'o
15:46Ronaldo open to making return to playing with North American Soccer League side Fort Lauderdale Strikers
15:07Veteran defender Betão rejoins Dynamo Kyiv on a free transfer
January 13, 2015
15:12São Paulo have received an offer for Osvaldo from Al-Ahli
13:15Lucas Lima to stay at Santos
12:13Report: Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva once again linked with a move to Napoli
09:38Report: Milan in talks with Atlético de Madrid over possible deal for full-back Guilherme Siqueira
09:29Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson disappointed injury forced him off in the Derby della Capitale
09:28Guangzhou Evergrande confirm deal for Cruzeiro midfielder Ricardo Goulart
09:19Palmeiras secure loan agreement for Henan Jianye forward Rafael Marques
January 12, 2015
23:34Agent Mino Raiola fears Lazio will struggle to retain midfielder Felipe Anderson
16:50Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure names Thiago Silva in his dream XI
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