5 Unheralded Brazil Players You Should Know Before Friendly vs. England

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IJanuary 21, 2013

5 Unheralded Brazil Players You Should Know Before Friendly vs. England

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    Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari will name his squad next week for a friendly encounter with England at Wembley on Feb. 6.

    Among that selection, there will doubtless be a number of players who will be somewhat of an unknown quantity to many of their opponents.

    These often home-based players still have the ability to influence games at international level—as the largely-unheard-of Kleberson did at the 2002 World Cup, or the emerging Denilson before him in 1998.

    The Internet has made the Brazilian game more accessible to a wider audience, while those partial to football management computer games may also be familiar with the lesser names on show.

    Ahead of the game, though, let's take a look at five of the less familiar faces that Scolari may include in his selection.

Cassio (Corinthians)

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    Former PSV Eindhoven goalkeeper Cassio is currently riding the crest of a wave after December's Club World Cup, with the Corinthians faithful fully behind their man to take the Brazil No. 1 shirt.

    With Valencia's Diego Alves likely to continue in goal, his presence in the starting lineup against England looks unlikely at present. Scolari, though, may choose to reward the gloveman for his Player of the Tournament displays in Japan.

    At 6'5" tall, Cassio is a man mountain and, as Chelsea discovered, his sizeable frame and quick reactions make him difficult to beat.

    He has had some issues with consistency and, at 25, still has much to learn. However, his first season of regular first-team action has been a roaring success, and he clearly has the attributes required to be a top goalkeeper.

    With Scolari's known preference for experience, it remains to be seen if he will be given a chance against England.

Rever (Atletico Mineiro)

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    Atletico Mineiro defender Rever has long been recognised as one of the outstanding centre-backs of the Brazilian domestic game, even if a 2010 spell at Bundesliga side Wolfsburg didn't work out as planned.

    The physical centre-back is a technically adept tackler and man-marker, but he lacks pace when compared to his competition for the role. He is, though, a threat in the air from set-pieces and unlikely to be found wandering out of position.

    With Thiago Silva absent from the fixture against England through injury, David Luiz recently deputised in midfield and with Dede only recently returning from a lengthy injury absence, it may well be that Rever is handed a chance by Luiz Felipe Scolari.

    He is, admittedly, an outside bet for selection, but would be unlikely to let the side down. He has his deficiencies, but if Scolari is looking for solidity, Rever may well be his best option to partner David Luiz.

Ralf (Corinthians)

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    Corinthians defensive midfielder Ralf has long been a player who has benefited from great support in Brazil for a call-up to the national team. His performances at club level have been a major factor in Corinthians' national title glory in 2011, Copa Libertadores win in 2012 and Club World Cup success later the same year.

    Another who is unlikely to get pulses racing, he is a remarkably assured presence at the base of the midfield. In all of his side's great successes, his protection of the defence has doubtless been key.

    Under normal circumstances, he would be behind both Liverpool's Lucas Leiva and Tottenham Hotspur's Sandro in the pecking order. However, Sandro has recently undergone knee surgery and Lucas is far from full fitness himself—there may well be an opening in defensive midfield.

    Ralf may lack the reputation in Europe of Bayern's Luiz Gustavo or Porto's Fernando, but he is highly respected in Brazil.

    Luiz Felipe Scolari is renowned for his use of defensive midfielders and, just maybe, the Corinthians man can earn a shot at securing a long-term role in the squad.

Arouca (Santos)

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    Box-to-box midfielder Arouca has already played for three of Brazil's biggest clubs in Fluminense, Sao Paulo and, currently, Santos. It is, therefore, somewhat of a surprise that, aged 26, he is yet to try his hand at European football.

    Strong and combative, Arouca is willing to do the dirty work for his side in midfield and allow others to take on a more creative role further up the pitch. Unlike Ralf, though, he will also join the attack if the situation permits.

    Tidy in possession, the Santos midfielder uses his low centre of gravity well to get out of tight situations and is unlikely to loosely squander the ball to his opponent.

    Like Ralf, he may benefit from the injury woes of Scolari's Premier League-based midfield options. Although Paulinho and Ramires are more likely to start in his position, Arouca's style could make him a useful option off the substitutes bench to both sure up the midfield and add physicality.

    He is another who deserves a chance as reward for sustained excellence in the Brasileirao.

Fred (Fluminense)

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    Former Lyon striker Fred has enjoyed an outstanding past 18 months in Brazil, putting previous spells of inconsistency and injury behind him to lead Fluminense to title glory in 2012.

    His performances at the 2011 Copa America were criticised. However, following his consistent match-winning performances at club level, there is a growing demand for his recall to the selecao.

    Tall, strong and powerful, Fred has proven to be the most reliable target-man that the Brazilian league has to offer. He is less injury-prone than Luis Fabiano, while his game is better developed than the inexperienced Leandro Damiao.

    It does, though, depend on the preference of Felipao as to whether he will be handed an opportunity. Alexandre Pato will be unavailable, but there is still a valid argument to say that a fit Luis Fabiano is the best striker in Brazil. Likewise, Leandro Damiao may be looked at with the 2014 World Cup in mind.

    It will be interesting to see which way Scolari turns, but Fred would be unlikely to let him down.