World Cup 2014 Progress Report: Scolari Gunning for Brazil 2014

Callum FoxContributor IIIAugust 30, 2013

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 26:  Luiz Felipe Scolari head coach of Brazil looks on prior to the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Semi Final match between Brazil and Uruguay at Governador Magalhaes Pinto Estadio Mineirao on June 26, 2013 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

When Dani Alves buried a stunning header at the wrong end of the pitch, Luiz Felipe Scolari would have been forgiven for questioning where the Selecao of a few months previous had gone.

The score was 1-0 to Switzerland, and the hosts handed the 2013 Confederations Cup winners a brutal wake-up call upon their return to international football.

Just six weeks earlier, the Selecao were celebrating a famous 3-0 win over the reigning world and European champions Spain in the final of the Confederations Cup.

Scolari now faces harsh reality just mere weeks after basking in the afterglow of the tournament triumph.

But it means the former Portugal boss can now sharpen the Selecao's focus on the upcoming 2014 World Cup in anticipation of a sixth victory–their first on home soil.

They may have been given the runaround by Xherdan Shaqiri and Co., but supporters can be assured that Felipao has matters in hand ahead of friendlies against Australia and Portugal in September as Brazil continue their preparations.

Announcing his squad for the two friendlies, Scolari laid down the gauntlet to those looking to break into the national setup, admitting that places were still up for grabs in the Selecao, as per

The base of players that won the Confederations Cup will be retained for next summer. The players were amazing in that tournament and I will only make a few changes for the World Cup.

The door will never be closed for any player who shines but, in principle, I will have chosen my 23 players for World Cup by March.

These two games against Australia and Portugal could be my last chance to observe certain players before deciding who should go to World Cup.

Scolari's words will have rekindled hope among those still competing for a place, with the likes of Chelsea's Ramires and Roma's Maicon given another chance to impress.

While the duo's inclusion in the latest squad surprised many, particularly in light of CBF chief Jose Maria Marin's declaration, as per Rik Sharma of the Daily Mail, that Ramires would never play in a Brazil shirt again under his stewardship, Scolari was firm in his belief that a second chance was deserved.

I know Ramires had his problems with CBF president Jose Maria Marin, but when I showed Marin my squad list yesterday he accepted the fact that Ramires is on it.

We have solved the problems we had with Ramires and he deserves to be with us. I have been watching him recently and he has been doing very well.

Maicon has always been great for Brazil. He is at Roma now and I want to watch him in these two matches.

I’m happy to give him the chance–he is another player who deserves it.

With Palmeiras defender Henrique also called up to the squad, this is the last chance for newcomers to the squad to impress the 2002 World Cup-winning coach.

As more friendlies are set to be arranged over the coming months, Scolari will be eager to consolidate his group and settle on their tactics and lineup ahead of the summer.

With Confederations Cup glory fresh in their minds, Selecao supporters will be eagerly anticipating another World Cup triumph—this time in their homelandto erase memories of the Maracanazo.

The 2-1 defeat to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup is a source of shame to many, and it is hoped that Felipao will be the one to exorcise the ghosts of the newly renovated Maracana.