5 Brazilian Youngsters Who Can Flourish Under Luiz Felipe Scolari
Brazil will soon enter a new chapter of its footballing history as Luiz Felipe Scolari once more takes charge of the national team ahead of the 2014 World Cup.
With just 18 months to go until the big event, the 2002 World Cup-winning coach must work quickly to build a squad that is capable of doing the country proud in front of its ever-demanding home crowds.
With that in mind, it is most likely that Scolari will turn to experience in order to ensure he can prepare a winning side in time.
Brazil, though, has never been a country to ignore young talent. So which youngsters could be set to shine in the Scolari era?
Bernard (Atlético Mineiro)
Atlético Mineiro's 20-year-old attacking midfielder Bernard was recently voted "Revelation of the Brazilian Championship in 2012"—just reward for a season that could easily have seen him voted the tournament's best player.
Paired with the talents of Ronaldinho behind the striker, Bernard has been far from overawed by his illustrious colleague and has offered a combination of pace and skill that the veteran is no longer able to provide.
It is this pace that makes the Belo Horizonte-born youngster a particularly potent threat, although his technical ability should also not be understated. The combination has brought the playmaker a vast array of goals and assists this campaign, including some as a result of impressive improvisation.
While Bernard's greatest input is undoubtedly in attacking areas, his desire for the ball and work-rate make him a useful asset in all areas of the pitch. That said, at just 5'5" he is not going provide much of an aerial threat from set pieces!
A good run with his side in the 2012 Copa Libertadores and Bernard could easily force his way into the Brazil squad ahead of the Confederations Cup next summer.
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Captain of Brazil's Under-17 side just last year, Marquinhos has quite simply been a revelation in 2012.
Having started the year as a member of Corinthians' Under-18 side, the centre-back quickly progressed to first-team level and, within a matter of months, had impressed enough to attract interest from European giants Roma.
Just 18 years old and arriving in Europe with minimal senior experience, there was very little expectation that Marquinhos would make an impact in his first season in Rome. His progress, though, has been astonishing.
Having made his debut as a late substitute in a 3-2 home defeat to Bologna in September, Marquinhos has gone on to start the next 11 league matches in a row—often displacing experienced Argentine Nicolas Burdisso or senior compatriot Leandro Castan.
A brilliant reader of the game, Marquinhos is wise beyond his years and it is these abilities that have shone through in Italy. The 2014 World Cup may come too soon for him, but it won't be too long before he makes his first steps at senior international level.
Wellington (São Paulo)
São Paulo midfielder Wellington has suffered two major injuries over the past two years, but when available has been crucial to the balance of the Copa Sudamericana winning side.
A defensive midfielder, 20-year-old Wellington's presence adds great protection in front of the defence, with his pace and stamina great assets to his side. His skills in this role are normally paired alongside the passing abilities of Arsenal loanee Denilson.
To dismiss the former Brazil Under-20 captain as simply a physical presence, though, would be unfair, with Wellington also famed for his driving runs forward from midfield and an impressive ability to cleanly dispossess opponents without the need to dive into tackles.
His impact on São Paulo's season since returning from injury has been phenomenal and, given his history in the Brazil youth setup, he is well known to those at the CBF.
His performances at club level merit further reward, but given the competition for places in Scolari's midfield, he will have to work hard to win himself a place in the squad.
Wellington Nem (Fluminense)
Fluminense's Wellington Nem has had a steady twelve months back at the Rio de Janeiro club, having shot onto the scene during a loan spell at Figueirense over the course of the 2011 league campaign.
A modern attacking midfielder, Wellington can play in a variety of forward roles to great effect, offering a tactical flexibility that could prove of great use in a 23-man squad for an international tournament.
Another diminutive figure at just 5'5", the Fluminense player has often featured most prominently in a second-striker role this season, feeding off the knock-downs of centre-forward Fred.
Besides being a good passer of the ball, Nem's darting runs in behind the defence are often a cause of major problems for opponents, whilst his finishing has been shown to be reliable under pressure.
He has often been forced into a supporting role to the likes of Fred and Deco in 2012, but a step-up to become one of the major stars of his side in 2013 could see him add to his brief international career in the near future.
Diego Vara/Agência RBS
Grêmio midfielder Fernando was the midfield lynchpin of the Brazil Under-20 side that clinched World Cup glory in Colombia last summer and has seen massive progress in his career at club level since that success.
The 20-year-old defensive midfielder has become a key member of Vanderlei Luxemburgo's side in Porto Alegre and was integral to the composition of the team that enjoyed a strong second half of the season to come third in this year's Brazilian championship.
Whilst São Paulo's Wellington may offer speed and dynamism, Fernando is more of a classical deep-lying midfielder. Sitting in front of the defence, the rumoured Porto and Spartak Moscow target retains and distributes the ball with a composure that belies his age and experience.
Without the outstanding physical attributes of many competitors in his position, Fernando relies on excellent anticipation and positioning to calmly break up opposition attacks before they can fully develop, a job he completes with minimal fuss.
The midfielder recently made his international debut in Brazil's 6-0 victory over Iraq and will hope to continue his integration into the national side under new manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.