Brazilian Stars Abroad: How the Best of Brazil Fared in Europe in 2013
As 2013 draws to a close and 2014 draws close, the football world is waiting for one special event next year: the FIFA World Cup.
As hosts, Brazil have the pressure heaped on to lift a sixth World Cup trophy. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari needs to get his 23-man squad perfectly balanced and will be looking to Europe during the Brazilian off-season to check on some of his puzzle pieces.
With that in mind, we are heading into Europe to take a look at some of the Brazilian names who have excelled, as well as others who have not fared so well on "The Old Continent" over the past year.
Perhaps the long-term successor to the Brazil goalkeeping jersey, Neto has made over 20 appearances for Fiorentina this season. He was part of Mano Menezes' 2012 Olympic Games Squad in London last year, playing twice.
This World Cup looks to have come too soon for the youngster, but with Julio Cesar, Jefferson, Victor and Diego Cavalieri all over or approaching 30, the young stopper may well get his chance in the 2015 Copa America if he continues to perform as consistently as he is doing with Fiorentina.
Club: AS Roma
After an anonymous year at Manchester City, Maicon is part of the excellent Roma side built under French coach Rudi Garcia. The club stormed the start of the Italian Serie A, winning their first ten matches.
They are currently sitting in second place to Juventus, with right-back Maicon forcing himself back into the reckoning for the 2014 World Cup. A right-back who loves to get forward in the same mould as Cafu, another former Roma full-back, Maicon has notched up two goals and three assists so far this season.
An excellent recovery for a player whose European adventure, after enjoying enormous success with Internazionale, looked to be petering out with barely a whimper.
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Following an excellent season at Roma last term, the teenager Marquinhos has made a promising start to life in France.
Playing alongside Brazil captain Thiago Silva has doubtless been beneficial for the young defender who may well fill the shoes of one of the greatest defenders on the planet.
He has made 16 league appearances this season and made his international debut in the 5-0 hammering of Honduras in November. If he can continue his meteoric rise in European football he may well find himself in Luiz Felipe Scolari's World Cup squad as a more than useful option from the bench.
Club: Shakhtar Donetsk
A player whose move appears to have taken him away from international reckoning, for the time being at least.
The 21-year-old was part of Brazil's Confederations Cup campaign in June, and immediately afterwards moved to Ukraine to join national champions Shakhtar Donetsk.
He featured for Brazil in the defeat to Switzerland in August but has not been seen in national colours since, as rivals for the holding midfield berth have come forward in abundance.
Fernando's move to the relative backwaters of Ukraine may have played against him in the reckoning for a place in Scolari's World Cup squad.
A holding midfielder with the capacity to be a dangerous creative outlet, Hernanes' form in the Italian capital means he should be in Brazil next June and July.
He has made 31 appearances this season, including six matches for the Selecao. All his international caps this term have come from the bench however, but as an integral part of the Lazio midfield his influence on the side has not gone unnoticed by Scolari.
Club: Shakhtar Donetsk
A firm favourite of Luiz Felipe Scolari, Bernard's upward trajectory from 2012's headline performances for Atletico Mineiro just continues to rise.
He helped Atletico to this year's Copa Libertadores crown before choosing a move to Shakhtar over Portuguese champions FC Porto. The move doesn't seem to have hindered his progress however.
He played a part in each of his club's Champions League games and can shine in front of a global audience in the knock-out stages after the turn of the year.
He could feasibly be part of a three-man attack at the World Cup, alongside Neymar and either Fred or Jo. His star hasn't finished rising yet.
Given the sparsity of No. 9s competing for the Brazil shirt at the World Cup, it is somewhat surprising the former Gremio front man has not been given more of a chance.
He has a consistent record in Spanish football, having scored 34 in 96 games, including eight this term, as well as 10 in 24 Champions League appearances.
He has not represented the Selecao in over a year but with Fred's persistent injury record and Jo's lack of experience in top European club competition, the Valencia forward is an option worth mulling over.