Update from Wednesday, May 14
Luiz Felipe Scolari has added seven stand-by players to his 23-man World Cup roster, taking the total squad size to 30.
The following seven names will only feature on home soil if one of the initial 23 are struck down by injury, per the Daily Mail's Tales Azzoni:
|Filipe Luis||Atletico Madrid|
|Alan Kardec||Sao Paulo|
Brazil enter the 2014 World Cup as not only the host nation, but also one of the favorites to win a title. It now appears manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has decided on the squad that will help raise the trophy.
While the overall roster lacks the international experience of some of the European contenders, there is a lot of talent at every position. This should help the hosts get through a relatively easy group consisting of Mexico, Croatia and Cameroon.
However, things get much harder in the knockout stage as even the group winner will likely face Spain, Netherlands or Chile from Group B.
Still, the Selecao have confidence they will win the sixth World Cup in the nation's history. If they do, here is the group that will be responsible.
|GK||Julio Cesar||Toronto FC (On Loan from QPR)|
|DEF||Thiago Silva||Paris St. Germain|
|DEF||Maxwell||Paris St. Germain|
|MID||Luiz Gustavo||VfL Wolfsburg|
|FW||Hulk||Zenit St. Petersburg|
Although a lot changes in a year, Brazil's lineup should not be all that different than the one that won the Confederations Cup with a finals victory over Spain. That squad obviously played well together, so it makes sense to keep what worked.
Beginning at goalkeeper, there is little doubt that Julio Cesar will once again man the position as one of the few veterans on the roster. While he is getting up there in age at 34 years old, he still has the intelligence and necessary reflexes to be a quality starter in net.
Which player should not start at centre-back?
There are a few tougher decisions on defense, especially since so many Brazilian players are competing at a high level for elite clubs around Europe. Thiago Silva is likely the biggest lock as the team's captain, but there is still a question about who he will be paired with at centre-back.
David Luiz has been competing in most of the big matches, but Dante has been just as solid if not better for Bayern Munich. In the end, though, Scolari will likely stay with familiarity and go with Luiz.
Dani Alves and Marcelo should play on the wings, unless Rafhina somehow cracks into the starting lineup.
For the holding midfield, Luis Gustavo has secured a spot after some excellent play with Wolfsburg. Paulinho has not been quite as impressive with Tottenham, but he has the faith of his manager. The key is to stay more conservative, as Scolari explained last summer, via FIFA.com:
Paulinho is free to go forward when it’s right for the team for him to go. At club level, very often, the full-back on his side overlaps significantly less. But in this team we’ve got a player [in Dani Alves] who goes forward an awful lot, so he [Paulinho] needs to cover for him, which is something he knows how to do. Here with A Seleção things are different, he needs to be able to adapt to the characteristics of the players around him.
While someone like Ramires might be more consistent defensively, Paulinho has improved in this area and should be solid enough to keep his starting role.
The attack remains a strength for Brazil with a handful of players who will be around for a long time. Oscar will likely star in the central midfield role while Neymar should be a true threat from the left wing, but the final two spots are up for grabs.
There are a number of young, creative players available like Willian or Bernard who can play well on the wing, or Hulk can remain there with his great experience in international play. It would not be surprising to see all of them play at some point, but Bernard continues to improve and might find his way into the starting lineup.
Meanwhile, the striker position continues to be a toss up thanks to the recent poor play of both Fred and Jo. Fred has an excuse after suffering an injury, although Tim Vickery of ESPN FC points out that he has still proven himself on the international stage, explaining:
Talent, though, is something he does not lack -- as he made clear during the Confederations Cup. In June and July, he performed the functions that Scolari was looking for in his centre forward. He offered a reference in the penalty area, tying up the opposing centre backs and easing the task for the likes of Neymar running in behind him. He showed the mobility to move out to the flanks and the technique to combine with the attacking midfielders. And he scored goals. Scolari, always a fan of the traditional No. 9, liked what he saw. Fred was another one who had booked his place in the World Cup squad.
With Diego Costa unavailable and Kaka looking too old to help the team, it seems like these are the Selecao's only options up front. This should keep Fred in the starting role as long as he is fit.
As the Associated Press (via Sports Illustrated) points out, there's some turnover from 2010, with only five players from that squad making it this time around.
Duncan Alexander at Opta also broke down the Premier League presence on the Brazilian roster:
PL players in Brazil World Cup squads: 1994: 0 1998: 0 2002: 0 2006: 1 2010: 1 2014: 6— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) May 7, 2014
It's also a roster that doesn't know what it's like to win the World Cup, as Nick Zaccardi of NBC OlympicTalk noted:
First time since 1994 that Brazil World Cup roster includes ZERO players who had previously won a World Cup, thanks to Kaka's omission.— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) May 7, 2014
Overall, there is enough talent on the roster to contend with any opponent in the world. The only question is whether this group has what it takes to run the table and win a title on its home turf.
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