Luiz Felipe Scolari Ponders Brazil's Striker Options Before 2014 World Cup

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Luiz Felipe Scolari Ponders Brazil's Striker Options Before 2014 World Cup
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Luiz Felipe Scolari has some decisions to make about his attacking options for the World Cup

An impressive haul of 14 goals in five games at the FIFA Confederations Cup that was followed up by nine goals in their last two international friendlies would suggest all is well with Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil and the striking options available to him for the World Cup next year.

But as always in these quarters, there are a plethora of talents waiting in the wings to step in at a moment's notice. On Thursday Scolari named his squad for the two October friendlies against South Korea and Zambia. The four strikers called up are Alexandre Pato, Neymar, Hulk and Jo.

Whilst his defensive base has remained solid for the last few months, there have been several changes, mostly forced by injury, to Brazil's attacking options.

At the beginning of the year Scolari had seemingly settled on his first-choice No. 9. Fluminense striker Fred, after being overlooked for the majority of predecessor Mano Menezes' reign, had forced himself into the reckoning with a succession of goals in Scolari's first few matches in charge.

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Fred had been the first choice number nine before picking up a thigh injury

He subsequently backed up those goals on the bigger stage when the Confederations Cup came around. Fred netted five goals, including two in the final against Spain, as Brazil marched toward the trophy.

But a serious thigh injury that has seen him ruled out for three months has allowed Atletico Mineiro forward Jo to take his chance in the limelight, and he also has done himself justice. He scored twice in the Confederations Cup and netted three goals in the two games against Australia and Portugal earlier this month.

And that pair are not the end of Scolari's central striker options. Alexandre Pato and Internacional's Leandro Damiao, who performed so well during the 2012 Olympic Games by scoring six goals, are both still in the reckoning. But a succession of injuries and a run of dry form have left Damiao at the back of the international pecking order.

Hulk was an integral part of Brazil's Confederations Cup success three months ago, but may find himself forced onto the bench if Scolari opts for a 4-3-3 formation. Neymar is an absolute starter on the left side of the Selecao's attack, and for the time being at least, Jo will continue to spearhead the attacking trio.

Against both Australia and Portugal, Bernard was the third piece of the forward puzzle and did nothing to deter Scolari from allowing him to continue in the starting XI.

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Bernard (left) and Hulk are vying for one place in the side

At his press conference Thursday afternoon Scolari confirmed he would maintain the base of his Confederations Cup squad. That means Chelsea's Oscar will also compete with Bernard for the right-sided attacking berth and has been given licence to thrive after being identified by Jose Mourinho as the club's principal playmaker.

But there are a few outside options who could make a late push for contention.

Cruzeiro's Julio Baptista—remember him?—is slowly refinding his form. Goias striker Walter, who has defied all critics despite being visibly overweight, has eight goals in this year's national league and is showing the goalscoring prowess that convinced FC Porto to take him to Europe in 2010.

Diego Costa of Atletico Madrid has been knocking in goals for fun and has meant the Spanish club have not missed Falcao as much as was perhaps initially feared. Costa currently sits joint top of the Spanish scoring charts with a certain Lionel Messi.

Costa has been called up previously but has never been given a real chance in national colours to show his true worth. With right months until the final squad must be defined, he still has the opportunity to throw his hat into the ring, unless the Spanish football federation's request to grant his dual nationality is confirmed.

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Diego Costa's excellent form could be rewarded with an opportunity with the Selecao, unless he decides to play for Spain

That means for the time being, the revolving door in Brazil's attacking third continues. Scolari may be intent on maintaining the base of his thus far successful squad, but if recent history is anything to go by, the next man to fill the boots in attack will be ready and waiting to snatch his opportunity.

South Korea and Zambia provide the next auditions for the pretenders.

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