Brazil Goes to London to Face Scotland: International Friendly Preview
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With three more international friendlies before the Copa América, Brazil will be heading to London to face Scotland this Sunday.
After two 1-0 defeats at the hands of France and Argentina, Brazil will aim to build some positive momentum before going to Argentina with the hopes of winning a third consecutive Copa América.
For those who did not watch either match, it may be easy to assume there are problems with Brazil. But for those who did, there's clearly nothing to worry about as Brazil has been experimenting with many new faces in the midfield and is missing several key attackers.
Against Argentina, Brazil held their own for 89 minutes against an experienced Argentine side before Lionel Messi took advantage of a mistake made by an inexperienced Brazilian midfielder.
When they faced France, Brazil again tested some new midfielders while going up against a French team that has been on a mission to redeem themselves since the World Cup. The Brazilians got off to a good start, but things fell apart when Hernanes got a red card in the 40th minute.
After that, France controlled the second half before Karim Benzema scored the lone goal of the game.
For the Scotland friendly, manager Mano Menezes will be trying another experiment. This Sunday, we will see players like Elano, Lúcio and Maicon making their return to the national team.
With Maicon and Lúcio back in the mix, where does that leave Dani Alves, David Luiz and Thiago Silva?
One idea could be a 3-5-2 formation where Lúcio, Luiz and Silva anchor the defense while Andre Santos or Marcelo play as the left wingback and Dani Alves assumes the role of right wingback.
Should Brazil be in control by the second half, Maicon could come in for Alves, thus allowing for a more defensive formation.
Lucas Leiva and Ramires will most likely start out anchoring the holding midfield positions. The combination has generated some pretty solid results thus far.
Menezes has put a lot of faith in Lucas, which probably stems from their days working together at Gremio. Ramires, another excellent box-to-box midfielder, exhibits pace and control, which will help set up the brilliant attacks Brazil has become famous for over the years.
Watch for Elias and/or Sandro to come in during the second half and relieve one or both of these holding midfielders.
Attacking-wise, the Brazilians have Elano returning to the national-team picture. Perhaps the most under-appreciated player of the Dunga era, Elano is one of those players who was integral to many goals and successes under the former coach.
His vision on the pitch whenever wearing the yellow shirt is rivaled by few, and his set pieces usually end up as an assist. The main concern in the past was that his club form in Europe was always the complete opposite of his form at the national team level.
Which player would you like to see more regularly with Brazil?
Since returning to Santos, however, Elano has been lighting up the scoreboard, which drew Menezes' attention. The question now becomes: Where does Elano fit in Mano's plan?
Unfortunately, Hernanes will be absent for this match, as he is serving a suspension from the red card he received for his Nigel de Jong-like stomp on Karim Benzema in the last friendly.
Another creative midfielder who just returned from injury but will not be around this weekend is Ganso. The odds-on favorite to be the future No. 10 for Brazil, Ganso has been out for the past few months due to a knee injury.
Once Ganso returns to full fitness, Mano may not have to try out any more midfielders in the playmaker role.
Up front, Menezes will most likely go with the Neymar/Nilmar combination. Alexandre Pato, who has been a regular under the new manager, recently went down to injury which leaves the uncapped Jonas (Valencia) as an option along with another uncapped player in Leandro Damião.
Another absentee is current captain Robinho. Some speculate his absence is a punishment for results from the past two matches; some say it's just a much-needed break.
Most likely, it is a combination of the two. Robinho will be in full stride come Copa América time, but for now a one-game break will be good for the striker who was a regular in the yellow shirt leading up to the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
New faces for this match include Jonas, Leandro Damião, Lucas and Henrique, while Jádson and Augusto will earn their second cap.
Lucas, from Sao Paulo, is being touted as the typical next big thing to come out of Brazil after an impressive under-20 South American championship (a tournament in which Neymar smoked the competition).
Henrique, another defensive midfielder, may get some minutes should the Brazilians need to provide more support to the back line or help win more balls in the midfield.
Jádson, one of the creative forces behind Shakhtar Donetsk's impressive Champion's League run, will hopefully get some significant opportunities to showcase the talent fans in Ukraine get to see every week.
Renato Augusto is another creative option to lead the attack in the midfield. With one cap under his belt, Augusto will hopefully get another chance to build on his debut against the French.
Until now, Menezes has been trying out many new players and giving other inexperienced stars the opportunity to shine, but in just a few months the tryouts come to an end and the Copa América begins. As much as Menezes would like to give everyone a trial in the yellow shirt, there are still expectations.
While the past two games are nothing to worry about, a positive result against Scotland is a must.
Between the regulars under Menezes and the returning players from Dunga's squad, we may be seeing what could be the Copa América team finally take form.
Look for Brazil to come out in full throttle from the outset of the game. After two defeats, Brazil needs to make sure everything is on track for this summer.
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