Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari brazenly announced his starting lineup for today’s match against Italy while his counterpart, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli refused to reveal details of Italy's squad for the friendly in Geneva, Switzerland. Scolari opted to leave Kaka out of the starting lineup and instead field Lazio playmaker Hernanes and Chelsea’s Oscar in midfield in front FC Porto’s defensive midfielder Fernando. Fernando, Hernanes and Oscar will play behind an attacking triumvirate composed of Neymar, Fred and Hulk in a 4-3-3 formation. The back four features a central defensive partnership of Thiago Silva and David Luiz in midfield while the left and right flanks belong to Filipe Luis and Dani Alves, respectively. Filipe Luis was selected ahead of Real Madrid’s Marcelo in a move that suggests that Scolari may be interested in restraining Luis's attacking freedom given Marcelo’s inherent tendency to function as an auxiliary attacker.
The key selections, however, are Hernanes and Hulk, both of whom were sorely missing in Brazil's abysmal performance against England in February. Expect Hulk to threaten on the right flank with his surging runs and long distance cannon shots with his left foot. Hernanes, on the other hand, has the more difficult role of running the Brazilian midfield by dropping deep to free up Oscar and Neymar while orchestrating attacks down the center as well. Brazil’s performance is likely to hinge on the positioning of Hernanes and Oscar and the question of whether they can create enough movement off the ball to free up the attackers to score goals and restore Brazil’s almost forgotten winning mentality.
Brazil Starting Lineup: Julio Cesar; Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Filipe Luis; Fernando, Hernanes, Oscar; Hulk, Fred, Neymar