5 Youngsters Who Could Make Late Push for a Place in Brazil World Cup Squad
With Brazil the favorite to win the 2014 World Cup on home soil, places in their final squad for the tournament become that much more sought after.
Those competing for spots in Luiz Felipe Scolari's Selecao outfit know that if the team is able to achieve glory in the final, they will instantly attain a kind of football immortality.
While "Big Phil" has likely decided on most of his squad, there are still a few spots up for grabs.
Will he opt for experienced players who he knows will perform at a certain level, or will he take a slight gamble and blood a few youngsters who have the potential to become revelations?
Here are five younger players who will be pushing to join the party in June and July.
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
It would be no great shock to see Lucas Moura at the big show this year.
At just 21, he has accumulated an impressive 31 caps and is now contracted to one of Europe's glamour clubs in PSG.
A lack of playing time with the French giants could become an issue for the former Sao Paulo winger, but Scolari would surely hesitate to neglect a player of such enormous ability.
If chosen by Scolari, Leandro would be somewhat of a controversial selection in Brazil's squad.
The 20-year-old is undoubtedly blessed with a great deal of talent. A quick and dazzling attacking player, he burst onto the Brazilian scene with Gremio back in 2011, but he fell out of favor due to a form slump.
A loan move to Palmeiras did him wonders, however, and he has now secured a permanent deal at the club, along with having earned a national team cap in April, 2013.
If he produces his best game over the next few months, Leandro will certainly be one worth considering.
Rising goalkeeping star Rafael Cabral will be pushing hard for one of the three spots available for his position at Brazil 2014.
The extremely agile, athletic and quick-witted shot-blocker made a name for himself at Santos before moving to Serie A and Napoli in 2013.
He may be behind Pepe Reina in the pecking order at the Italian club, but that should not hinder his chances of making the World Cup, considering his immense potential as the future long-term Brazil No. 1.
Following a poor season with Internacional, Leandro Damiao will try to revive his career and national team hopes with Santos.
No Brazilian centre-forward has yet locked up the Selecao starting role as his own, and with a lack of depth in the position at present, Damiao will certainly not be writing off his own chances just yet.
A bagful of goals for Santos will put him right in the mix for a World Cup berth.
Club: Shakhtar Donetsk
He may not have done his Brazil chances any favors by signing for Shakhtar in the relatively low-profile Ukrainian league in 2013, but Bernard has been impressive enough in his 10 national team showings to still consider himself a good prospect for making the final cut.
Scolari has an abundance of dynamic and creative attacking midfielders to choose from, but as it stands, Bernard is well and truly in the running for at least a back-up role.
He is the kind of player who can spark a team to life after coming off the bench, and Scolari will no doubt be aware of his value.
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