Speculation abounds that Mano Menezes, coach of the Brazilian national football team, will change his starting line-up for Brazil’s pivotal Copa America match against Paraguay on Saturday. Mano is likely to stick to the 4-2-1-3 formation and squad that he fielded in Brazil’s goalless draw against Venezuela. On Wednesday, Mano replaced Ramires with Lucas and Robinho with Elano in training sessions that suggested that the Brazilian coach was dissatisfied with Robinho and wanted to supplement Ganso with another creative midfielder in the form of Elano as opposed to a defensive, holding midfielder such as Ramires. Mano refused to disclose the line-up for the match against Paraguay to the press, noting that the squad would be released just before kick-off. The most likely change would be Elano for Ramires, which would give Brazil a 4-1-2-3 formation, with Ganso and Elano behind Neymar, Pato and Robinho. Elano’s inclusion would take some playmaking pressure off Ganso and provide another badly needed conduit between the midfield and the strikeforce. Moreover, Elano plays alongside Neymar and Ganso for Santos and can claim national team tournament level experience through his contribution to Dunga’s World Cup squad. But Mano is unlikely to change the balance of the team and, if anything, is more likely to push Ramires into more of an offensive midfield role rather than displace him in favor of Elano. The other vibrant possibility is that Mano will pin down Andre Santos on the left flank and release Dani Alves to supplement the Brazilian attack even more so than usual.
Players to watch:
Expect Pato to assert his authority and trek back into midfield to retrieve the ball in the event he’s not getting the service he needs.
Paulo Henrique Ganso
Needs to have a lifetime performance in the number 10 jersey. Should now be back to full form and fitness with two competitive games under his belt.
The heir apparent to Robinho’s throne as captain of the Selecao will need to step up and take control of the match if Ganso cannot live up to expectations in midfield.