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This blog reflects on soccer qua football all over the world. The blog has a specific investment in attractive, attacking football and, as such, focuses on Brazil, the most emphatic historical exponent of the beautiful game. More generally, the blog examines questions of leadership, collaboration, teamwork, mentorship and the relationship between sport and aesthetics.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Scolari's Next Move: David Luiz In Deep Midfield and A Thiago Silva, Dante Partnership In Central Defense

After the recent friendly against Bolivia, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari praised Rever’s performance and noted that the team had no shortage of talent in central defense. Scolari remarked that Brazil had at least five players vying for two spots in central defense and that, of these, he could take four players to the 2013 Confederations Cup. All this suggests that Scolari is actively thinking about disrupting the central defensive partnership of Thiago Silva and David Luiz that became the mainstay of Brazil’s central defense under Mano Menezes and either pushing David Luiz into a deep midfield role or perhaps, more radically, relegating Luiz to the bench given his renowned tendency to make mistakes. Of these two moves, pushing David Luiz into midfield is by far the more likely option given his wealth of international experience and leadership ability. As Brazil’s attacking midfield begins to gel led by Ronaldinho and Oscar, Scolari is likely to push Luiz into a deep midfield playmaking position behind Hernanes, and partner Thiago Silva with Bayern Munich’s Dante, Vasco da Gama’s Dede or Atletico Mineiro’s Rever in central defense. Scolari himself remarked on the possibility of pushing David Luiz into midfield before the Brazil-England friendly as follows:
David Luiz has played most of his games since the Club World Cup as a defensive midfielder. He's a third centre-back, but who plays in front [of the defensive line].He has this ability and it gives us an alternative. I think it's a good chance to try this during the game, but we won't start like this. To sort this, we need time for training to work on the fine details of positioning. For now, it is an alternative for during the games, but we won't start like that.
Assuming Brazil does evolve to a formation whereby David Luiz plays as the first man of midfield in a deep playmaking role with defensive responsibilities as well, Scolari has three partnering options for Thiago Silva in central defense as follows:

Dante
The 29 year old Bayern Munich central defender is known for his composure, prowess in the air, tactical awareness and ability to push forward and create goal scoring opportunities. Dante has superb tackling accuracy and typical Brazilian defensive composure marked by the ability to calmly play the ball out of defensive situations.

Dede
The Vasco da Gama central defender is known for his physical strength, towering physical presence, ability in the air, leadership in central defense and ability to score from set pieces.

Rever
The Atletico Mineiro defender is known for his positional awareness, ability in the air and track record of scoring goals.

Dante represents the strongest candidate for a partner for Thiago Silva given his experience with European football and clinical tackling accuracy. A Thiago Silva-Dante partnership in the Brazilian central defense enables Scolari to leverage Luiz’s playmaking ability and strong physical presence to support Dani Alves, Marcelo and Hernanes in a move that would give Brazil all of the benefits of a holding midfielder in addition to Luiz’s ability to orchestrate attacks and join the attack as needed as well.

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