How Brazil Will Line Up Against South Africa

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IMarch 5, 2014

How Brazil Will Line Up Against South Africa

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    Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

    Brazil play South Africa in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening in what is Luiz Felipe Scolari's final chance to evaluate his troops ahead of naming his World Cup party in May.

    As a result, Lancenet (Portuguese) report that he will make a couple of changes to his regular side for the friendly, with Fernandinho and Rafinha set to be given the chance to impress.

    Who, then, makes Brazil's likely starting XI for the friendly fixture?

GK: Julio Cesar

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    Toronto FC 'keeper Julio Cesar remains Brazil's undisputed No. 1 under Scolari, in spite of months of inactivity at Queens Park Rangers prior to his move.

    There is decent competition for a place, but Cesar has bought himself time to recover form and match fitness with his excellent displays for the national side over the past 12 months.

    With a wealth of experience, he is the man Scolari trusts ahead of what will be a high-pressure World Cup, but he must now justify the faith of his coach.

DR: Rafinha

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    Fully deserving of a call-up to the Brazil this season, Rafinha effectively has 90 minutes against South Africa to press his claims for a World Cup place as backup to Barcelona star Dani Alves.

    One of two rotation options that Scolari will test on Wednesday, the Brazilian has been holding his own in a Bayern side that have been all conquering both domestically and in continental action this season.

    There is pressure for full-back places from the likes of Adriano, Maxwell and Rafael, though, so only a tip-top performance from the undervalued Bayern player will be enough to consolidate his squad place.

DC: Thiago Silva

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    The side's captain and the rock upon which the entire team is built, the performances of Thiago Silva will be central to Brazil's hopes of World Cup success this summer.

    Alongside David Luiz, he is virtual ever-present in the starting lineup and the pair have forged a formidable partnership at the heart of the defence.

    His selection was never in doubt.

DC: David Luiz

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Chelsea defender David Luiz is another who is certain of his place in Scolari's side, in spite of a lack of starts for his club this season.

    He has, though, generally been excellent for Brazil over the past couple of years and it would be somewhat unfair for him to lose his place at this point.

    He needs a good showing, though, to ensure that doubts don't creep into the coach's mind ahead of the summer.

DL: Marcelo

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    Real Madrid full-back Marcelo is among the best in the world in his position and will line up on the left of the Brazilian defence in Johannesburg once more.

    Like with Dani Alves at right-back, Marcelo has seen off numerous competitors over the last couple of years to become one of the first names on the teamsheet for his country.

    With South Africa not expected to trouble Brazil, he should be in his element as an attacking force on the flank.

DM: Fernandinho

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    In defensive midfield, Scolari makes another change to his regular setup to incorporate Fernandinho for the first time since he took the reins for a second time early last year.

    With the former Shakhtar man excelling under the bright lights of the Premier League, he has managed to force himself into the reckoning for his country and will have a chance against South Africa to display his wares.

    A good showing on Wednesday and last weekend's League Cup winner will be heading to the World Cup this summer with his countrymen.

DM: Paulinho

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    Alongside Fernandinho will be another midfield star of the Premier League in Paulinho, who has begun to make his mark at Tottenham.

    Generally used as the more forward thinking of the pair at the base of the midfield, he will play a box-to-box role in which he is expected to remain defensively responsible while supporting the attack when possible.

    In the colours of Brazil, he is yet to disappoint.

AM: Hulk

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    Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

    Perhaps the player with most to lose against South Africa is Hulk, who should line up on the right of the attack once more. However, his place in the side and, indeed, the squad is under threat.

    While he has been an excellent club-level player for several seasons, he has failed to deliver at international level on a consistent basis.

    With Lucas Moura beginning to find somewhere near top form at PSG, now is the time for Hulk to step up in the canarinha.

AM: Oscar

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    Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

    Chelsea No. 10 Oscar is a highly valued figure for both club and country with his combination of technical ability and industry helping to make him one of his managers' most trusted players.

    For Brazil, he is a crucial element of the team. His connection with Neymar has been one of the key features of the side's play over the past two years, while he helps control space in front of the midfield.

    When Brazil beat Spain in the final of the Confederations Cup, his role in hassling Sergio Busquets laid the foundation for success and he will be asked to continue in the same manner in just a few months' time.

AM: Neymar

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    The star attraction of Brazil's side, Neymar is the man to whom they look to provide the X Factor when it comes to the biggest occasions.

    Only recently turned 22, he has a sensational record of 27 goals in 46 games for his country, having taken on a senior role in the side ever since the 2011 Copa America disaster.

    The South Africa clash will be another opportunity for him to boost his goalscoring record, with little pressure on his shoulders in what is essentially a meaningless run out for the Barca star.

ST: Fred

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    He may not be everybody's cup of tea, but Brazil striker Fred has matured with age into a highly effective target man and has proven very useful for Scolari's Brazil.

    Injury problems have hampered him somewhat since last summer's Confederations Cup and, with Jo having been in good form for the selecao, he will be keen to make an impression.

    For Fred, a starting berth at the World Cup is a certainty if he remains fit.