The two Lucas's set to take their place v Venezuela
Reports are circulating in Brazil that Dunga will ring changes for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Venezuela in Fortaleza.
It is reported that the XI Dunga has worked with in training involves four changes from the side that lost 2-0 to Chile in Santiago on Thursday. One of these alterations will be enforced, with David Luiz returning to his club due to a knee injury. He will be replaced by his PSG teammate Marquinhos at the centre of defence. Filipe Luis is also expected to displace Marcelo at left-back.
Further forward, the manager may look to rotate Chelsea pair Willian and Oscar out of the team, with Santos’ Lucas Lima and PSG’s Lucas Moura expected to take their places. Willian and Oscar arrived from a polluted club environment, where Chelsea have endured a torrid start to the season. Both were forced to field questions about the atmosphere at their club during press duties last week. It could be that Dunga feels that both men are playing with extra weight on their shoulders. This certainly seems to be true of Oscar, whose performance in Santiago was entirely sub par.
Oscar missed the Copa América and September friendlies with Costa Rica and the USA, meaning he has not appeared for his country since March. It could be that he is taking time to rediscover his rhythm. The forward line has changed significantly since March, with Douglas Costa now a bona fide starter on the left and Neymar suspended. Several promising breakaways spluttered to a halt on Thursday due to heavy touches from Oscar, or misplaced passes. Dysfunction may partially explain this, with Douglas Costa and Hulk (in the role of centre forward) unfamiliar allies to the Chelsea man. For Brazil, Oscar is expected to provide the creative hub of the midfield, but Mourinho has turned him into something of a front line midfield destroyer and he seems to be struggling to switch between the two roles for club and country.
Lucas Lima meanwhile, is in the form of his career at Santos and, perhaps crucially, with the Brasileirão edging into the final third of the domestic season, he is in superior shape physically, playing in a form team chasing a Libertadores spot. Lima has been a crucial part of Santos’ attack, forming the crux of the supply line to the league’s top scorer Ricardo Oliveira. The manager may regard Lima as a fresher pair of legs and a more invigorated personality for a Brazil side that are probably saddled with enough negativity, following Thursday’s defeat. If Brazil do not start the game especially well and score quickly, there is a sense that the Fortaleza crowd may turn on the team.
In their current mental state, Dunga may take the decision that Oscar and Willian are not in the right frame of mind for such a challenge. However, it would be harsh on Willian were he excluded from the starting line-up. He has been one of Chelsea’s few bright spots this season and he has played well for the Seleção too. He was possibly the best of a bad bunch at the Copa América and by no means disgraced himself in Thursday’s loss to Chile. Should Dunga opt for Lucas Moura on the right hand side, I think the change would be purely tactical.
Neymar is not only a valuable source of goals for Brazil, but he is also a creative player. Moving away from the forward line, he often drifts out to the flanks to take players on, create overloads and look for combinations. Willian is skilful and a very hard worker on the right flank. But Hulk and Ricardo Oliveira are much more traditional strikers. As such, Lucas Moura is a more traditional wide man, looking to take on the full-back and provide service to the front man. Venezuela are likely to be a little more compact at the back than Chile were and Lucas Moura’s trickery could come in useful against a stubborn defence. That said, Willian is certainly capable of beating a full-back and delivering a cross. His setpiece delivery is also exemplary, so if indeed he is omitted from the starting line up on Tuesday, he can count himself unfortunate.