Picking a Best Brazil XI Playing in the Campeonato Brasileiro
A couple of weeks ago Bleacher Report ran a "Best Brazil XI playing in Europe" feature.
Today we are switching focus to this corner of the world and choosing a side made up of players from the Brazilian national championship, the Campeonato Brasileiro.
The new season has just begun so form from the 2013 campaign will be the main consideration. Whilst the bulk of Luiz Felipe Scolari's squad ply their trade in Europe, there are more than a few home-based options for him to cast his eye over.
The number two for the Selecao Brasileira, and with Julio Cesar's continued sabbatical from first-team action, the Botafogo stopper has a genuine chance of being between the sticks at the World Cup.
Jefferson has been one of, if not the, most consistent goalkeeper in the Campeonato Brasileiro for the past three seasons and has been an ever-present for his club.
An imposing figure inside the penalty area, he is an excellent shot stopper and confident in coming for crosses. He has been an enormous asset for Botafogo and has been awarded with the captain's armband. He could yet make a big difference at international level as well.
RB: Marcos Rocha
Club: Atletico Mineiro
Part of Atletico's successful Copa Libertadores campaign last year, Rocha has been in and around the national squad under Luiz Felipe Scolari but looks set to miss out on the World Cup to the more experienced Daniel Alves and Maicon.
His playing style is more akin to Maicon than the Barcelona full-back. Rocha has a solid defensive footing and is a useful offensive weapon down the right flank.
He has been voted into the Campeonato Brasileiro Team of the Year for the past two seasons, and at just 25 years of age, should get further opportunities on the international stage.
Another player on the fringes of the national squad. Scolari is unsure who to take as a fourth central defensive option and Dede has as good a chance as anyone of making the final cut.
A monster of a man, physically strong and as solid as a rock, Dede had been linked with some of Europe's top clubs, including Manchester United and Liverpool, as reported by Charles Perrin of The Daily Express.
Their hand forced due to financial difficulties, his first club Vasco da Gama eventually sold him to Minas side Cruzeiro, where he was a regular in the team that took last year's Brasileiro by storm.
If he continues to perform as consistently as last year, and is given a chance to prove his talent on a stage such as the World Cup, he is likely to earn a transfer to Europe sooner rather than later.
The most promising defender in the country. Took to the first team gracefully last year and impressed with a series of calm and composed displays alongside the vastly experienced Bolivar.
He has made a slightly slower start to 2014 and was at fault for Deportivo Quito's goal in the Copa Libertadores preliminary round last week.
But his talent, natural reading of the game and ease on the ball are there for all to see. Doria has a massive future in the game.
An exciting left-back who is far more comfortable launching himself forward, Carlinhos has been a stalwart for the Laranjeiras outfit for three years and a move to Turkish club Galatasaray fell through last summer.
He so far has a solitary Brazil cap to his name and has helped Fluminense to two Brazilian league titles in his three full seasons at the club.
Ralf, alongside Paulinho, formed one of the finest midfield partnerships in Brazilian football. Paulinho has of course since departed for Tottenham Hotspur, but his old partner in crime remains marshalling the middle of the park for one of Brazil's largest clubs.
Ralf is just as comfortable slipping in as a makeshift centre-half as he is in holding midfield, breaking down attacks with the minimum of fuss.
With his help Corinthians had the meanest defence in the Campeonato Brasileiro last year, conceding just 22 goals in 38 matches.
The team meanwhile had various well-documented problems in attack, managing just 27 league goals last term.
Thanks to Ralf aiding defensive duties, Corinthians have little to worry about at the back.
Can play right-back and as a creative force in the centre of midfield, Jean was part of Brazil's 2013 Confederations Cup squad. He went as back-up to Daniel Alves but has played the majority of his Fluminense career in midfield.
Moved to the Rio club from Sao Paulo in 2012 and was an integral part of the side's Brazilian championship success that year. His form dipped slightly in the second half of last year as Flu were relegated, only to be reinstated to the first division after a courtroom decision.
He has made an excellent start to the 2014 season—he created Flu's only goal in the Campeonato Carioca on Saturday against Bangu—and if he can rediscover top form, he can be an excellent provider for Selecao striker Fred.
AM: Everton Ribeiro
The best player in last year's Campeonato Brasileiro. Ribeiro was the vision, thought process and execution behind Cruzeiro's second-half splurge towards national glory which saw them sprint away from initial title challengers Botafogo and Atletico Paranaense.
During the Brazilian offseason he was linked with a multitude of clubs including English champions Manchester United, as reported by Paulo Freitas for Sky Sports.
He was deservedly named Player of the Year for 2013 and it is an enormous coup for Cruzeiro to have managed to hang on to their star prospect as they embark on their Libertadores adventure.
Cruzeiro supporters should cherish his special talent while they still can.
Club: Atletico Mineiro
An excellent dribbler of the ball, Fernandinho has made sure the loss of young prodigy Bernard to Ukranian champions Shakhtar Donetsk has not been as sorely felt as it could have been.
Stockily built but with a playing style similar to an out-and-out winger, the 27-year-old can cover huge distances with the ball at his feet at pace. He is also capable of a lethal long-range shot, scoring a beauty in the Belo Horizonte classico against city rivals Cruzeiro last year.
A veteran of the game, Alex had a superb season for Coritiba after spending eight years at Turkish club Fenerbahce.
Alex defied his 36 years to help the club to thirteenth in the table, netting an impressive twelve goals along the way. A free-kick specialist and the brains behind a technically limited Coritiba team, Alex was, Everton Ribeiro aside, arguably the stand-out performer in the 2013 Campeonato Brasileiro.
He was certainly the surprise package of the year.
Scorer of 35 goals last year and he has hit the ground running in 2014 too. Hernane, alongside Elias, led Flamengo's charge towards the Copa do Brasil last year.
Fla have done well to hold onto their principal goal threat. Negotiations to sign Elias from Portuguese club Sporting permanently have hit a snag and Hernane's responsibility to the Flamengo cause could be even greater this year than last.
If he can maintain his form, the club's bid for a first Libertadores crown in over 30 years will be greatly enhanced.
He has scored 40 goals in his last 64 matches—a far better record than Fred, Jo, Alexandre Pato and Leandro Damiao—and may well get a chance in next month's friendly against South Africa.
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