English Premier League's South American XI
Manager: Luiz Felipe Scolari - (Chelsea/Brazil)
Runners-up in the Premier League and the Champions League hardly sounds like a club in crisis, but when Big Phil took the reigns from Avram Grant at the start of the season he had it all to do.
He was expected to deliver the attractive football demanded by owner Roman Abramovich, even as the Russian tightened the purse strings. He has succeeded in transforming a turgid Chelsea side into a free-flowing and free-scoring team that look set to scoop some major honors come the end of this term.
The World Cup winning coach is just the man to lead these Latino lads into battle.
Goalkeeper: Heurelho Gomes - (Tottenham Hotspur/Brazil)
It looks like this team might be finished before it starts! Nowhere is confidence more important on a football field than for the man between the sticks. It is also true that great players do not become bad ones overnight.
A catalogue of howlers may have Spurs fans putting their heads in their hands every time a cross comes into the box but with a few magical words from Harry Houdini hopefully this custodian can put his season back on track.
After all, Gomes had his detractors when he first arrived at PSV. That was before he went on to win four consecutive Eredivisie titles and keep clean sheets in 60% of those games. He was also instrumental in PSV reaching the last four of the Champions League.
Right Back: Rafael da Silva - (Manchester United/Brazil)
With Gary Neville fading from view a new force is emerging in the right back berth for Manchester United. If you looked up "Brazilian full back" in the dictionary you would see a picture of young Rafael.
While defence may not be his strongest suit he adds another dimension to United’s already formidable attack. His recent goal in the defeat at Arsenal is surely just a taster of what’s to come from the lad. Also look out for his brother Fabio, a left back, who is also on the books at Manchester United.
Left Back: Julio Arca - (Middlesbrough/Argentina)
In at left back comes a man with almost more Premiership experience that the rest of the team put together. The former Argentina U-21 captain was brought over by Peter Reid, then manager of Sunderland.
Julio established himself as a crowd favourite with his all-action style of play and deadly accuracy from free-kicks. He dispelled the myth in England of South Americans being work-shy show ponies on the look out for a payday with his performances in Sunderland’s Championship winning side of 2004-05.
A series of injuries has niggled him throughout his career but at 27 Julio Arca still has a lot to give to the Premier League.
Centre Back: Alex - (Chelsea/Brazil)
Chelsea first got their claws into Alex back in 2004 but proceeded to loan him to PSV for three seasons. Whilst in the Netherlands Alex led solid a defence in front of countryman Gomes that set the platform for PSV to restock the trophy cabinet.
He was brought to Stamford Bridge at the beginning of last season and ensures Chelsea never look in danger of missing John Terry or Ricardo Carvalho when either of their first choice centre backs picks up a knock. His blistering strikes from deadball situations earned him the nickname "The Tank" while at PSV.
Centre Back: Fabricio Coloccini - (Newcastle United/Argentina)
Suring up the central defence with Alex is Newcastle’s summer recruit Fabricio Coloccini. The Argentinian demanded a transfer fee in excess of £10 million when he arrived from Deportivo.
Whilst in Spain he had established himself as one of the toughest tacklers in La Liga. Impressive performances for his club brought him into the Argentina team for the 2006 World Cup. Coloccini has his work cut out if he is to stem the flow of goals that have seen Newcastle plunged into the relegation places early in the season.
Holding Midfielder: Javier Mascherano - (Liverpool/Argentina)
The Monster Masch is the perfect fulcrum to keep the attacking talent around him ticking over. Recently given the armband by Diego Maradona, his tough tackling and intelligent distribution make him a shoe-in for any team in the world.
He has the ability to get on with job in an understated and workmanlike manner, scrapping around the centre circle and launching attacks with the right pass. Occasionally he can lose his head but still has youth on his side and will in time collect the medals his talent deserves. Captain.
Central Midfield: Anderson - (Manchester United/Brazil)
In full flight Anderson can ghost past opposition players as if they are not there. He holds his own in United’s midfield which in itself is no mean feat given the talent on offer to Sir Alex Ferguson.
He first made his name at the 2005 U-17 World Cup when he was rewarded with the Golden Ball, the award for the best player on show at the tournament. After Manchester United had their fingers burnt with Kleberson a few eyebrows were raised when David Gill sanctioned the £18 million transfer fee for Anderson.
Just a season and a bit down the line the value is there for all to see as the Brazilian continues to make his presence felt in this latest incarnation of Manchester United.
Central Midfield: Geovanni - (Hull City/Brazil)
What a revelation Hull have been to the Premier League this season and central to their impressive results has been Geovanni. Both Barcelona and Benfica shelled out big bucks on the Brazilian with little reward, before Sven brought him to Eastlands.
Undoubtedly the highlight of his time with Manchester City was scoring the winning goal in their home derby against United. Even with legendary status this assured him in the blue half of Manchester he was released at the end of the season.
Since rocking up at the KC Stadium Geovanni has scored two goals in wins in North London with a combined yardage of 60-plus yards. He has also bagged at Old Trafford and helped his Hull City team to nosebleed territory in the Premier League.
Right Wing: Robinho - (Manchester City/Brazil)
As bizarre as his deadline day transfer deal was it heralded the arrival of one of football’s greatest talents to the Premier League. How long he will stay with Manchester City and what he will achieve while there remains to be seen.
He has the talent, as his hat-trick against Stoke showed, to achieve all he wants in the game. His attitude has been questioned by Pele and even more severely in a parting shot from Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon. Despite all this the Premier League’s record signing makes the starting eleven.
Left Wing: Jonas Gutierrez - (Newcastle United/Argentina)
There’s not been too much to cheer at St James’ Park this season. However, the sight of this Spiderman obsessed winger bombing down the left wing has been one bright spark for the Geordie faithful.
His build is stockier compared to your usual wing wizard but this frame makes him ideally suited to riding the robust challenges found in the Premier League. A wise signing indeed. Injuries have already restricted his starts for Newcastle this season but hopefully his present clean bill of health can continue and he can help his team away from trouble.
Centre Forward: Roque Santa Cruz - (Blackburn Rovers/Paraguay)
Not many expected too much from Santa Cruz when he arrived in Lancashire from Munich. He failed to reach double figures in any of his eight seasons in the Bundesliga.
It was soon apparent though that his combative style was ideally suited to the English top-flight as he bagged 19 goals for Rovers in the league plus four in other competitions.
Signing a new four-year for Paul Ince has failed to stop speculation of a move for Roque to a "bigger club". He is also no slouch when it comes to international football, helping Paraguay build up a useful lead over Brazil and Argentina in the current qualifying group for South Africa 2010.
Diego Cavalieri - (Liverpool/Brazil)
Liverpool’s number one makes it onto the bench. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know too much about this fella but I’m no Neil Warnock and like to have a ‘keeper on the bench. This Brazilian glovesman came to Anfield in the summer after playing over 100 games for Palmeiras.
Juliano Belletti - (Chelsea/Brazil)
Chelsea’s versatile defender/midfielder can provide cover in a number of positions. Capable of scoring from range the Brazilian is the proud owner of 2002 World Cup winners medal.
Elano - (Manchester City/Brazil)
This playmaker was instrumental in Sven’s successful start as Manchester City boss last season. Opportunities have been limited this term but he is still very much in national boss Dunga’s thoughts as his recent goal against Portugal showed.
Carlos Tevez - (Manchester United/Argentina)
Carlos seems to be enjoying his time on the bench at the moment and sadly that’s where he fits into this set-up. An exceptional talent, capable of creating a goal from nothing as he showed when scoring crucial late strikes for Manchester United’s title winning side last season.
Jo – (Manchester City/Brazil)
Big, strong and able to hold the ball up in attack he’s an ideal replacement for Santa Cruz. Jo would benefit from a regular run in the City team as he has all the attributes to score lots of goals in the Premier League.
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