What Brazil National Team's Formation Says About Their Strengths and Weaknesses

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterMay 27, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 24:  Luiz Felipe Scolari, coach of Brazil during the press conference ahead of the Brazil v Russia match at Stamford Bridge on March 24, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Brazil are just over 12 months away from hosting a FIFA World Cup and the nation is feeling the pressure to deliver a home win.

Unimpressive performances and a lack of awareness when it came to disposable talent saw Mano Menezes fired, and Luiz Felipe Scolari has returned to the helm in an attempt to win his second World Cup.

The results haven't been perfect, but he's making positive tactical moves to ensure his side are ready: He's experimented wildly with players and formations, and his plans are coming to the fore.

Let's check in on what his work so far says about how the Selecao are shaping up.

Neymar the Playmaker

The Ronaldinho experiment didn't last long, while it also looks very unlikely that either Kaka or Ganso will take a starring role in this side.

Scolari has hedged his bets in Neymar, and after watching Russia mark and kick him out of the game, has opted to give the soon-to-be Barcelona star a free role behind the striker.

Fred does a great job of occupying the centre-backs and forming an outlet for the ball, leaving Neymar to drift across the midfield line and look for space. It's the only way to stop teams focusing their resources on stopping him and could prove to be a masterstroke.

He'll have no excuse not to enjoy a fair crack at each game this way, and the move to put the youngster on a pedestal will see him rise to the occasion or fall very, very hard.

Lack of True Wingers

Scolari has tried a few different formations, and most of them have been variants of the 4-4-2.

He tends to use the likes of Oscar and Hulk in the wide areas, and this only serves to reinforce one major point: Brazil have a lot of attacking and central talent, but very few "true" wingers in the mould of Jesus Navas.

The 4-2-2-2 was floated as an option before Brazil took on England but in reality it seemed more of a 4-2-3-1. The interchanging nature of Scolari's systems makes them difficult to predict and gameplan for.

Plethora of Central Midfielders

 In the wide areas the Selecao are left wanting, but centrally they couldn't be stronger.

Felipao appears to like the combination of Fernando and Hernanes, though B/R's expert in the field Chris Atkins believes Paulinho could enter the frame once fit again.

The 4-2-2-2, the 4-4-2 and the 4-2-3-1 are all options with such a strong core in place, and with a double pivot that knows it's doing, the front four can change their skins whichever way they feel necessary to win.


Atkins also suggested, via private conversation, that many Brazilian football aficionados expect Scolari to return to his roots and try out the 3-5-2 formation.

It's the system he turned to in order to win the 2002 World Cup, achieving success despite a makeshift backline—Roque Junior was no star, and Edmilson was a converted midfielder masquerading as a libero.

Brazil may not house proper wingers, but they do have a number of players that would thrive if given a true wing-back's role; Rafael and Dani Alves, in particular, draw scorn in South America for their lack of defensive awareness, yet would likely thrive in a 3-5-2.

This could be the final tactical twist in the tale as Felipao prepares his troops for the World Cup they dare not lose.


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