Predicting Brazil's Starting XI Against Colombia
We are exactly one week from Dunga's second coming as Brazil coach. On Friday, September 5, the Selecao take to the field for their first real test since the blitz at the Mineirao which saw their World Cup dreams go up in smoke.
Against Colombia, at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami, the rebuilding process begins in earnest. Here, Bleacher Report takes a look at the side the new boss is likely to put out in his opening gambit.
The next in line for the No. 1 jersey and the logical choice, especially seeing as Dunga has named only two goalkeepers in the squad and one spent the vast majority of last season warming the bench at Napoli. Having waited so patiently in the wings and earning only a handful of caps, Jefferson is fully deserving of his chance in the Selecao spotlight.
The 31-year-old has proven himself adept at having to deal competently in times of pressure and adversity. He is the captain of Botafogo, a club currently lurching from one financial crisis to the next on a monthly basis as fans help to pay player salaries, as reported by O Dia (link in Portuguese).
He possesses true leadership qualities and has the potential to step in to the captain's role with Brazil in the absence of Thiago Silva.
He was first-choice for the right-back berth at the 2010 World Cup, and he also managed to usurp a below-par Daniel Alves during this year's tournament.
Danilo, alongside Marcos Rocha and Mario Fernandes, are likely to be the trio tussling over the No. 2 shirt over the next few years. But with a positive start needed to help put this summer's dreadful memories behind them, the boss is likely to go with the tried and tested.
CB: David Luiz
If there is any player who needs to put the events of the World Cup behind him, it is Paris Saint-Germain's latest stellar acquisition. Held up as the definitive personification of Brazil's stunning capitulation in the World Cup semi-final, a one-man Titanic, Luiz's loss of composure as the hosts hopelessly chased the game was one of the most concerning issues for Brazil and needs addressing immediately.
With Thiago Silva out through injury, Luiz will need to perform whilst shorn of the side's defensive rock and a partner who resembles something of a comfort blanket to the floppy-haired defender. With the call-ups of Miranda, Marquinhos and Gil, the former Chelsea favourite should be the player around whom the defence is built.
Luiz has close to 50 caps to his name, and he will be the experienced head talking his rookie teammates through the rigours of a stern international test. After the events of July 8, however, the PSG zagueiro will be under the microscope every bit as much as the new recruits.
Considered unlucky to miss out on Luiz Felipe Scolari's World Cup squad, the 29-year-old Atletico Madrid defender may well be the most like-for-like replacement Brazil have for Thiago Silva.
One of the cleanest tacklers in the game, the Brazilian committed less than a foul a match across 31 La Liga contests with champions Atletico last season, per WhoScored.com.
He has played every minute of his club's season thus far and his form over the last year, in both La Liga and Atletico's inspiring run to the final of the UEFA Champions League, has shown any doubters that the former Sao Paulo blocker has earned his chance to make the step up to the international stage.
LB: Filipe Luis
Another Atletico Madrid success, Filipe Luis has since made the move to Chelsea and the Selecao setup. Certainly a stronger defensive option than Scolari's World Cup pick of Marcelo, Dunga's primary task will be to shore up a leaky back line which managed just one clean sheet at the World Cup, and Luis will go a long way to making that a reality.
The same age as former teammate Miranda, the recent Stamford Bridge arrival may not be a long-term solution to Brazil's well documented problems at left-back, but the cover he offers to the central defenders will be a massive plus as Brazil look to build from the back.
DM: Luiz Gustavo
You may not think it to look at his slight frame, but Gustavo is one of the most tenacious holding midfielders around, a quality his new national boss values. Dunga previously used the more physically intimidating Felipe Melo, to ultimately disastrous consequences following his dismissal against Holland, in the 2010 World Cup, and Gustavo's role in the new coach's formation is one of vital importance.
Strong in the tackle and a quick distributor of the ball, the Wolfsburg enforcer averaged close to 50 passes a game during the 2013/14 season, as per WhoScored, and he is allegedly being lined up by Champions League winners Real Madrid, as reported by Goal.com's Adrian Boullosa.
Sitting in front of the back four, should Brazil use a floating quarter upfront rather than a target man, as Dunga's squad selection suggests, Gustavo's ability to move the ball from back to front at speed will be key.
At 27, he could well feature at the next World Cup in Russia. He has the potential to be one of Dunga's most powerful weapons.
The man who partnered Luiz Gustavo in the middle against Germany is likely to continue in the role. The Manchester City maestro was guilty of a horrific error as the Germans netted their fourth goal in Belo Horizonte, but he can be hardly held responsible for the outlandish decision to leave his team outnumbered in midfield by two to five.
He is yet to start a game for his club this season, but five goals and three assists, per WhoScored, during City's chase for the Premier League title last term proves his worth to a team's attacking prowess.
Fernandinho can also be a rigorous presence in defensive midfield. Booked eight times in the previous campaign, he was also guilty of paying special attention to Colombia's James Rodriguez during the World Cup quarter-final. Another meeting between those two will be one to relish.
Opening game aside, Oscar was one of the most disappointing players for Brazil at the World Cup. But with Dunga's proposed new system, he may be given the opportunity to make immediate amends.
His flexibility across the front line will be a major asset to the manager's revolution. Capable of playing centrally, right or left and likely to chip in with a few goals, the 22-year-old will need to hit the ground running if he is not to feel the pressure from rival playmakers breathing down his neck.
AM/F: Philippe Coutinho
Arguably the player the Brazilian press were most angry about missing the World Cup, as reported by Teo Jose (link in Portuguese), the 22-year-old Liverpool star has gone straight into Dunga's first squad. With little to suggest him and Oscar should not at the very least be given a chance to play together, he is in with a great chance of going straight into the team as well.
Like his Chelsea compatriot, Coutinho is an able playmaker anywhere across the front and can dribble, play deft passes in behind a defence and produce a blistering shot.
He provided seven assists as Liverpool ran Manchester City close during last season's Premier League title chase, per WhoScored, and his imagination and creativity would be welcome additions to what was a static Brazilian attack during the World Cup.
A list of Neymar's attributes is simply not necessary. He is to Brazil what Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are to Argentina and Portugal, respectively, what oxygen is to the human respiratory system.
The one Brazilian player to emerge from the World Cup with his reputation enhanced, not just the attack but the team is based around Neymar and his talents.
Dunga's brief should be simple; get the best out of Neymar and Brazil's chances of success, be it a preparatory friendly or next year's Copa America, multiply tenfold.
AM/F: Ricardo Goulart
The leading scorer in the Campeonato Brasileiro with nine goals and could play in the most advanced position of a front four.
Goulart normally operates as a floating No. 10 for reigning Brazilian champions Cruzeiro, bursting forward when given a sight of goal. He has linked well with Everton Ribeiro for his club side, who is also in the squad for the next two games.
His clinical ability in front of goal means he should reap the benefits of playing alongside the likes of Coutinho and Oscar, who could turn provider for the 23-year-old.
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