Brazil Head Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari named the 23-man Brazil squad for the Confederations Cup, the traditional pre-World Cup tournament that the country will host in one month’s time.
The roster included many familiar names, absent the two most recognizable ones – Kaká and Ronaldinho. Yes, the two attacking midfielders were excluded for the Brazilian national team, amidst reports that Scolari would be selecting one or the other.
While the two have been in and out of the roster since playing side-by-side in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, it was never likely that the two would form that midfield duo for this tournament, or even for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Kaká, whose glory days are now long behind him, dons the white shirt of Real Madrid every now and then, but his form and influence during his time at A.C. Milan has only been replicated in spurts during his tenure at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Used sparingly, Kaká typically comes off the bench and hasn’t seen enough regular playing time to warrant a spot in the national team, based on form alone. Lack of playing time is, perhaps, the single biggest detriment to his game.
Kaká was once considered one of the game’s elites, and after picking up the FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or awards, and guiding Milan to a 2007 Champions League victory, that claim stood firm.
Yet, his form and style has suffered from a string of injuries and his playing time has decreased because of it. Kaká’s downfall, however, is nothing in comparison to Ronaldinho’s. During his time at FC Barcelona, Ronaldinho was considered the best player in the world. Yet a string of moves to A.C. Milan and several Brazilian outfits has made Ronaldinho’s story a disappointing one – until this season, that is, where Ronaldinho’s performances with Atlético Mineiro have made him a serious contender for a spot in the national team.
The stats don’t lie and Ronaldinho is racking up the numbers throughout the year; 16 goals, 16 assists, and a bag of tricks makes Ronaldinho an efficient and equally exciting player for his club and country. Yet, he too, misses out of the Confederations Cup roster. Even stranger is the exclusion of Chelsea’s Ramires, who has been consistent and capable for the Blues throughout the year.
His absence and physical presence in midfield will show for Brazil. Other names not included on the team sheet include Alexandre Pato, Robinho and Diego Alves, but Scolari won’t focus on the player’s who aren’t on the roster. “There’s always people who complain when you choose A, B or C,” Scolari said.
“Obviously what’s going to happen is people are going to criticize me if I choose A, B or C and if things go wrong I know it will get ugly.” So, no Kaká, Ronaldinho or Ramires leaves Brazil without some of its most recognizable stars, but the actual squad features players that are equally capable. Ronaldinho’s absence on the left flank is filled with Neymar, a player who needs to description; such is the obviousness of his talent and skill.
In Neymar, Brazil have a goalscorer, a chance creator, a mover, a passer, and a bright young talent to build around. Each Brazil roster has that one player who makes headlines and in this current crop, Neymar has the skill and the star power to occupy the spot held by Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Rivaldo before him.
For every star, there’s a quiet hero and in Fred, Brazil has a striker who scores regularly and scores in abundance. With Fred up top, Brazil can use a target man who can score with both his feet as well as his head. Like Luis Fabiano, Fred isn’t the most famous name, but he is a performer through and through, and that will be important for the national team.
The rest of the team is filled with the likes of Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Marcelo, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Hernanes and Hulk, players who start for their respective clubs. Oscar will be an important piece in this puzzle, as well.
However, there are plenty of new faces in the roster, something Scolari says is important for the national team leading up to the World Cup. “There are 13 to 15 players who haven’t played in a competition for the national team,” Scolari said. “We must give them the chance to play in the Confederations Cup, competitive matches that are worth titles.
Does the absence of Ronaldinho and Kaká hurt Brazil? Maybe not. It’s up to the next generation of Brazilian talent to prove they can step up to the plate and perform; players like Lucas, Leandro Damiao, Luiz Gustavo and Dante need to replicate their club form in a yellow shirt, and earn a consideration for the full roster this time next year.
Until then, the Confederations Cup gives Brazil a chance to finally start testing out different combinations and different formations, and with the country demanding a Brazilian triumph at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, making these mistakes one year before may just spare Brazil the headache – and heartache – when the big day comes.
Full Roster: Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (QPR) Diego Cavlaieri (Fluminense) Jefferson (Botafogo)
Defenders: Thiago Silva (PSG) Rever (Atlético Mineiro) David Luiz (Chelsea) Dante (Bayern Munich) Daniel Alves (FC Barcelona) Jean (Fluminense) Marcelo (Real Madrid) Felipe Luis (Atletico Madrid)
Midfielders: Fernando (Gremio) Hernanes (Lazio) Luiz Gustavo (Bayern Munich) Paulinho (Corinthians) Oscar (Chelsea) Lucas Moura (PSG)
Forwards: Jadson (Sao Paulo) Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg) Bernard (Atlético Mineiro) Leandro Damiao (Internacional) Neymar (Santos)