Brazil Goalkeepers in Final Auditions for 2014 World Cup Squad
Brazilian goalkeepers were the major fad a few years ago. Everyone wanted a shot stopper from football's most entertaining nation between the sticks, and for a while a host of top European clubs were littered with the best blockers from Brazil.
From Julio Cesar at Internazionale, to Dida at Milan and Doni at Roma, some of Europe's giants were turning to Brazil for their last line of defence. What's more, they were proving a hit.
Cesar was at Inter for seven years, picking up five Italian titles and a Champions League crown during his time at the club. Dida represented A.C. Milan for a decade, also getting his hands on European club football's biggest prize.
The craze has shown signs of abating recently. Julio Cesar remains contracted to QPR, now of the second division, while the stopper remains Luiz Felipe Scolari's first choice fit in the World Cup next year.
Rafael Cabral and Neto, of Napoli and Fiorentina respectively, may be waiting in the wings for future tournaments, but for the upcoming World Cup the majority of Scolari's options are-home based.
Scolari's dedication to Cesar is slightly perplexing, however. Cesar turned down moves to Italian outfits Roma and Fiorentina over the summer to remain with the London club and is currently ruled out through injury.
His decision to remain at a second-tier club appears even more baffling after Roma made history in Italy this year, topping the table after winning their opening eight matches.
Until Scolari says otherwise, Cesar remains his country's No. 1, but it will be increasingly difficult to keep him in the starting XI should he spend an inactive year behind Rob Green in the QPR pecking order.
Those lined up to deputise are all earning their keep in the Campeonato Brasileiro. Jefferson, of Rio club Botafogo, looks to be the automatic second choice. He started the friendly against Switzerland in August in Cesar's absence as well as the game against South Korea last week and looks to have made the No. 12 shirt his own.
But who will act as Brazil's third-choice goalkeeper next year is less certain, and there are a host of names in the frame.
For the time being Cavalieri is ahead of the pack. He was called up for the last two friendlies against South Korea and Zambia, playing against the latter, although he had so little to do it was nigh on impossible to judge if he had enhanced his credentials or not.
He is slowly regaining confidence and he was part of Brazil's successful Confederations Cup campaign in June. Cavalieri will need a strong finish to the season if he is to cement his place.
Atletico's Victor has been in and around international squads for the last four years and his performances during his club's Copa Libertadores win brought him to the attention of Big Phil.
Dramatic penalty saves in the quarter- and semi-final saved his side's bacon as they won the first major continental title in their history. The 30-year-old was in the squad for the last two internationals but wasn't featured.
Two further goalkeepers stand an outside chance of a late call-up. Corinthians goalkeeper Cassio has been out of the picture for the last few months. The big stopper was instrumental in the Paulista club's World Club championship win over Chelsea back in December.
Cassio made four outstanding saves to keep the Londoners at bay, earning major plaudits in Brazil. He is also part of the tightest defence in the Brazilian league. In 30 games this season Corinthians have conceded just 18 goals.
For the time being however he remains on the outside, with only a remote possibility of representing the Selecao at the World Cup.
As, surprisingly, does Fabio, the stopper at table-topping Cruzeiro. The 33-year-old has consistently missed out on international caps in the past, but his form during his club's impressive surge towards the title has given him slim hope of earning a call for one of the few remaining friendlies prior to the naming of the final 23.
When it comes to shot stoppers Scolari is certainly not short of options and he must get every decision right. It grates with Brazil that they have never won the World Cup on home soil, having lost to Uruguay in 1950. To put that right, Scolari must choose his chess pieces carefully.
Dead certs: Julio Cesar (QPR)
Probables: Jefferson (Botafogo)
Contenders: Diego Cavalieri (Fluminense), Victor (Atletico Mineiro)
Outside chance: Cassio (Corinthians), Fabio (Cruzeiro)
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