Predicting Who Will Be Brazil's Defensive Starters at the World Cup

Dan Colasimone@@ArgentinaFWContributor IApril 24, 2014

Predicting Who Will Be Brazil's Defensive Starters at the World Cup

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    Hussein Malla

    Brazil have always been more famous for their offensive flair than for their ability to defend, but at the upcoming World Cup, they are set to boast one of the most formidable back lines in the tournament.

    Competition for places is tough, with a number of top quality players vying for each position.

    Should manager Luiz Felipe Scolari opt to use a four-man back line, as expected, there are only five starting spots (including goalkeeper) available.

    Who will grab them?

    Here are the defenders who are likely to narrowly miss out, and thus be used as backups on the bench:

    Subs: Maxwell, Maicon, Dante, Rafinha, Jefferson, Victor, Marquinhos. 

Goalkeeper: Julio Cesar

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    His glory days at club level may be long gone, but Julio Cesar remains his country's first-choice goalkeeper, and he should be the man between the sticks at the World Cup.

    The 34-year-old once plied his trade for Serie A giants Internazionale, but he is currently on loan with MLS club Toronto FC after being unable to hold down a first-team spot at Queens Park Rangers.

    Scolari has maintained his faith in the former Flamengo man, despite some calls for locally based Jefferson or Victor to take over shot-stopping responsibilities. 

    In reality, it is probably a lack of standout options that has enabled Julio Cesar to keep his job. 

Right-Back: Dani Alves

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    The debate over Dani Alves and Maicon has gone on for years, and it looks set to continue at Brazil 2014.

    The two legendary right-backs are both, in all likelihood, past their respective primes. However, they are still good enough to represent the Selecao at international level.

    It is the Barcelona man who appears to be Scolari's favourite right-sided full-back at present, and if he is fit, he will likely be starting at the World Cup.

    At 30, Alves has lost a little of the pace that made him such an attacking threat down the flank, but he is still capable of surging forward to cause mischief. 

Centre-Back: Thiago Silva

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    Along with Neymar, Thiago Silva will be one of the first picked for every Brazil side.

    The Paris Saint-Germain defender is arguably the finest centre-back in world football at the moment. As Brazil's captain, he will be expected to bring his influence to bear in crucial encounters.

    Fast, rugged, intelligent and comfortable on the ball, he is the complete package. 

Centre-Back: David Luiz

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    Criticised earlier in his career for occasionally being caught out of position, David Luiz has matured in recent years to become one of the most respected defenders in the game.

    He is still capable of the occasional blooper, but there are few teams in world football who would not love to have the 27-year-old on their books.

    Powerful and intimidating at the back, Luiz is also a threat going forward due to his ball control, aerial prowess and ability to take free-kicks.

    With Silva, he forms an imposing centre-back pairing. 

Left-Back: Marcelo

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    In the tradition of Brazilian full-backs, Real Madrid's Marcelo can regularly be found in attacking areas of the pitch rather than back in the defensive line, but such is his pace and work-rate that it is rare that he gets caught out.

    The left-back will be expected to get forward and combine with the likes of Neymar to give his side an extra option in the front third.

    The youngest of the likely starters in defence, Marcelo injects plenty of energy and enthusiasm into the Selecao back line.