Are Ronaldinho and Kaka Fighting for 1 Brazil Spot at World Cup 2014?
We are approaching crunch time ahead of the Confederations Cup, with Luiz Felipe Scolari's next squad for June friendlies with England and France likely just to be an extended version of his cup squad.
For Scolari, who claims to already know the squad he will select, it is decision time in a number of areas. Scolari must seek to get his stuttering side firing. The key to doing just that will be to strike a balance in midfield that he has been unable to find, thus far.
While the problem is clear throughout the team, from front to back, it is in attacking midfield that the lack of fluidity has been most keenly felt. Brazil has an inbred affection for talented attacking players, and it is never more keenly felt than when discussing the famous No. 10 shirt.
At present, the shirt is the possession of Chelsea star Oscar. The 21-year-old will almost certainly attend the World Cup next summer as a first-teamer for his country, but whether he will be playing in his preferred central role is open for debate.
There can be no doubting that Brazil have performed best with Oscar installed as the side's central playmaker over the past two years. Scolari, though, believes there is the need for an experienced head in such an important role—his predecessor Mano Menezes had also expressed similar thoughts.
Both have featured under Scolari in the five matches of his era thus far, and both were also brought back at different times under Mano Menezes. Neither, though, has matched the levels of Oscar, or stepped up against better opposition.
Whether that is a fault of their own, or a critique of the team's quality and structure as a whole, is open for debate.
My own personal views have been plainly stated on this site. Neither are up to the challenges of international football anymore and do not add to the team with their presence. Not everyone, though, would agree with this assessment.
In reality, though, Scolari will have to name a 23-man squad next summer, and given that neither player is particularly inclined to move from their central role at this stage in their career, there will only be room to accommodate one of the duo.
Otherwise, including Oscar, there will be three players for what is essentially one position on the pitch. It would be a rather unnecessary extravagance that could detract from other areas.
It is an interesting dilemma. On form, Ronaldinho will almost certainly get the nod for the Confederations Cup. His performances at club level have been outstanding, while Kaka has not seen regular action.
Which of the duo would you choose?
The counter argument is that Kaka produced some good performances for his country late last year—albeit against weak opposition. His presence allowed Neymar and Oscar to shine. Ronaldinho, meanwhile, has struggled on recent outings with the national team.
The decision, then, could be made on the basis of the Confederations Cup. Should Brazil fail to inspire in front of their home supporters, then the occupant of that shirt will likely be propelled out of the reckoning. His competitor would then have a year to state a case for the World Cup.
It's a truly intriguing dynamic, with two of the greatest players in the world of the last decade looking for one final shot at glory on an international level. By virtue of club level performances, Ronaldinho is in the driver's seat.
There is no guarantee, though, that either former great will make it to the main event next summer. Whatever happens, though, their supporters and their critics will be out in abundance.
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