From Rio to Rio - Who is fighting for their ticket to Brazil 2014
After Brazil’s Confederation Cup victory over Spain in dominating fashion, there was belief that they could go all the way in the upcoming World Cup on home soil. Superstar Neymar was instrumental in the competition and Brazilians around the World will be hoping for similar performances to guide them to glory. Luiz Felipe Scolari and his squad will be watched closely as they try for their sixth World Cup title.
Who will the former Chelsea boss take with him on their quest for glory?
Julio Cesar (Toronto)
Diego Cavalieri (Fluminense)
Victor (Atletico Mineiro)
Matheus Vidotto (Corinthians)
Despite seeing little club action whilst at Queens Park Rangers under Harry Redknapp, Scolari seems to have settled on his first choice keeper. Cesar has now moved to the MLS with Toronto FC hoping for more first team action to secure his place as number one.
Botafogo stopper Jefferson is a regular stand in captain and should take his place as understudy to Cesar leaving Diego Cavalieri, Victor and Matheus Vidotto fighting for the final place in the squad.
Atletico Miniero’s Victor is the favourite to take up the last goalkeeping spot on current form with the former Liverpool keeper Cavalieri missing out despite making the Confederation Cup squad.
Thiago Silva (PSG)
David Luiz (Chelsea)
Daniel Alves (Barcelona)
Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Dante (Bayern Munich)
Possible Rafinha (Bayern Munich)
Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid)
Brazilian’s defence is arguably one of the best in the competition with PSG defender Thiago Silva and Chelsea’s David Luiz providing a strong centre back pairing. Silva was named in the team of the year and is one of the best in the world whilst Luiz is the preferred option in an attack minded defensive unit. Barcelona wingback Dani Alves will provide an attacking option down the right proving his attacking abilities with a strike against Manchester City in the Champions League. On the left, Real Madrid’s Marcelo will complete the defence indefinitely.
Bayern Munich centre back Dante will make the squad as backup, a player who would arguably warrant a starting place if the partnership between Luiz and Silva was not so fruitful during the Confederations Cup.
Roma rightback Maicon seemed to be the only real option as cover for Alves but since Phillip Lahm took up a central midfield role for Bayern, Rafinha has excelled in defence providing solid defensive and offensive displays. The former Schalke man has picked up six assists this season and gives Scolari something to think about when deciding between him and the former Manchester City man. Atletico Madrid’s Filipe Luis and PSG’s Maxwell will battle out for the left back back-up slot with the Ligue 1 defender the favourite to make the cut. At centre back, Cruzeiro’s Dede initially seemed favourite but after a recent spell in the squad, PSG’s Marquinhos is being touted as a real possibility. Mineiro’s Rever is also in contention.
Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg)
Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Lucas Leiva (Liverpool)
Kaka (AC Milan)
Ronaldinho (Atletico Miniero)
Phillipe Coutinho (Liverpool)
Brazil’s midfield was hailed after the Confederations Cup with star man Paulinho earning a £20m transfer to Tottenham after some solid performances for his nation. After some stellar showings, he has added dynamism with Chelsea’s Oscar providing creative spark in the midfield trio. Jose Mourinho seems to have chosen Oscar as his main attacking threat after he allowed two time player of the season Juan Mata to leave the club.
To add power and defensive structure to the midfield, Wolfsburg’s Luiz Gustavo should make up the midfield three. Gustavo is an anchor in midfield and the former Bayern man gives Paulinho and Oscar the license to attack. Chelsea midfielder Ramires could be a starter in the side if Scolari decides to field a different formation than 4-3-3. Though he is not much of a playmaker, he adds power and drive in the engine room. Inter Milan’s new signing Hernanes also gives the Selecao another option with a range of passing abilities that can unlock the defence.
Liverpool’s Lucas Leiva seems favourite for backup to Gustavo but the 27 year old will find it hard to break back into the Liverpool team with the form of Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and countryman Phillipe Coutinho. Coutinho’s form this season has been inconsistent at times but world class at others. The former Inter playmaker was instrumental in the 5-1 win over Arsenal and some feel he deserves a place in the squad although he is not a preferred option in Scolari’s eyes. AC Milan’s Kaka has found form since returning the club and Ronaldinho is also another option as he prepares to play in his last World Cup.
Jo (Atletico Miniero)
Alexandre Pato (Sao Paulo)
Leandro Damiao (Santos)
Osvaldo (Sao Paulo)
Lucas Moura (PSG)
Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Barcelona sensation Neymar will most of the countries hopes and expectations on his young shoulders. The former Santos man silenced his critics in the Confeds Cup and has played well for the Blaugrana this year. It is likely he will occupy the left wing of a forward three with Zenit powerhouse Hulk occupying the right hand side.
The centre forward position is likely to be contested by Fred and Jo. The former Lyon striker held the berth at the Confeds Cup to much success but after a run of injuries, Jo has impressed when given his chance.
Alexandre Pato and Leandro Damiao have outside chances of making the squad with PSG’s Lucas Moura and Chelsea’s Willian the favourites to make the cut. Shakhtar Donetsk 21 year old superstar Bernard could also be considered after impressing in Ukraine this year.
No matter who Scolari picks for his 23 man squad, all eyes will be on the Samba stars to perform on home soil.
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