Brazilian-Born XI of Players Playing for Other Countries
The Brazilian national team is always a firm candidate to win the World Cup, as it has a never-ending talent production line. We could easily put together a “B” team with the players left out of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s World Cup squad that would still have a shot at lifting the trophy.
In fact, there is so much talent that we can even form a strong Brazilian-born XI of players who chose not to fight for a spot in the Verde-Amarela but for another national team.
In the past two World Cups, around a dozen players born in Brazil or with Brazilian parents played for other national teams. And to earn a selection from some of those teams is not easy, either. Deco and Liedson did it with Portugal, Cacau with the three-time champion Germany and Sinha with Mexico, among others.
This Brazilian-born XI has eight players from provisional squad lists for the World Cup announced earlier this month. The three other players did not appear in the lists but still may have a chance of being included before the official rosters are due to FIFA on June 2.
It is important to note that all these players are performing for top national teams that have finished third or better in a World Cup. Put together, these teams account for seven championships and 12 finalists. The old argument that Brazilian players choose to play for other countries because they wouldn’t be good enough for the Canarinha gets harder to support.
This XI uses a 4-4-2 formation, with the potential to switch to a 4-3-1-2.
Goalkeeper: Mauricio Viana
Mauricio Viana was born in Sao Paulo almost 25 years ago but has spent all of his career in Chile, where he went through the Santiago Wanderers' youth system.
Except for a loan spell at Union Quilpue, Viana has only played in a Wanderers jersey. In Chile, he is recognized as a brave goalkeeper. In a match against Audax Italiano, he sustained a perforated intestine injury after a hard challenge but was unaware and continued to play, even saving a penalty kick. He later had an emergency surgery due to the severity of the injury.
Viana has played for Chile youth teams and was also called up to the senior team in 2011 and 2012.
He wasn’t included in Chile’s pre-roster for the World Cup and is unlikely to be a last-minute call-up. Viana is not the strongest link of this Brazil-born XI, but let’s face it, even Brazil’s official national team rarely features top-class goalies.
Center-Backs: Pepe and Marcos Gonzalez
Here we have a world-class duo of players who, barring the extraordinary, will be playing in their native land this summer for Portugal and Chile, respectively.
Real Madrid centre-back Pepe was born and raised in Brazil and went across the Atlantic Ocean to play in Portugal at age 18. Once he established himself as a top defender in Europe, he obtained Portuguese citizenship and has been a regular for Portugal since 2007.
Pepe could move up to play as a defensive centre midfielder if needed, switching the back line from four men to only three.
Marcos Gonzalez was born in Rio de Janeiro and moved to Chile as a very young child. Gonzalez has spent most of his career playing in the Chilean league but returned to Brazil to play for Flamengo. On the road to Brazil 2014, Gonzalez was among the Chilean players who featured the most in the qualifiers, as he appeared in 14 matches.
Full-Backs: Matias Aguirregaray and Douglas
Brazil has historically had some of the best full-backs, but when it comes to the ones playing for other national teams currently—they are far beyond the level of their countrymen.
The two full-backs chosen are not in the pre-rosters of the Netherlands or Uruguay and, just like Viana, are unlikely to be on the final rosters given to FIFA in about a week.
Matias Aguirregaray was born in Porto Alegre, but thanks to his father, he is also a Uruguayan. He has been a part of Uruguay’s youth national teams, participating in the Under-20 World Cup and the 2012 Olympic Games. With the senior team, he was called up for the 2013 Confederations Cup and Brazil 2014 qualifiers matches. He plays as a right full-back.
For a lack of a left full-back, Douglas, who decided to be eligible to play for the Netherlands, will have to move from his primary position as a centre-back to complete the four-man back line. Douglas became a Netherlands citizen after many years playing at Dutch club Twente and was called up for the national team for the first time in 2012.
Center Midfield: Thiago Motta and Thiago Alcantara
The center midfield will join two players who at different times were formed in La Masia, where Barcelona young stars are developed.
The more defensive-minded Thiago Motta from Paris Saint-Germain will be paired with the talented and more creative Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara. The Thiagos’ duo will certainly have little to ask from any midfield duo in the world.
Motta played with the Brazilian national team at youth levels, but since he decided to play for Italy, he has been constantly called up by Cesare Prandelli since he became the Azzurri manager, and he has been included in Italy’s provisional list for the World Cup.
Unlike Motta, Alcantara never played for Brazil’s youth teams, as he decided to play for Spain at a young age. Sadly, we probably won’t see Bayern’s star trying to help the Spaniards retain their world title, even though he was included in Spain’s provisional list, due to an injury.
Attacking Midfielders/Wingers: Romulo and Sammir
Croatia and Italy will be providing the attacking midfielders born in Brazil.
Romulo has impressed in Serie A playing for Verona in the recently ended season and has caught the attention of Prandelli, who decided to name him in Italy’s provisional squad. His main position is as a right-wing midfielder, but if needed, he can move back to act as the right-back.
Sammir was included in Croatia’s provisional World Cup roster. He currently plays for Getafe, but his best years in European football so far have been in Dynamo Zagreb. It was at that time that he acquired the Croatian passport and subsequently was called up to the national team. Sammir can play as the left-wing midfielder in the 4-4-2 formation or as an attacking midfielder behind the forwards if the Brazil-born XI switches to a 4-3-1-2.
Forwards: Diego Costa and Eduardo da Silva
On top are two strikers who could very well be missed by the Brazilian national team this summer.
Diego Costa has had an impressive season with Atletico Madrid, leading them to conquer La Liga for the first time in 18 years. Brazil called up Costa for friendlies, but he ultimately decided to switch and play for Spain, causing an immediate reaction from Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who said, “He is turning his back on a dream of millions, to represent our national team, the five-time champions in a World Cup in Brazil.”
Costa has been suffering from injuries lately, even causing him to be substituted on the ninth minute of the UEFA Champions League final last Saturday. So even though he has been included in Vicente del Bosque’s pre-roster list, it still remains uncertain if he will be ready in time to play in the land where he was born.
To pair up with Costa up front and capable of playing as a second striker or moving to the wings is Arsenal’s former prodigy, Eduardo da Silva. Eduardo emigrated to play in Croatian football for the first time at age 16. Eventually, he became a star in the Balkan country and started playing for Croatia Under-21 before he went on to the senior national team.