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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.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Brazil Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari Picks World Cup Squad Marked By Quality And Depth

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari today announced his 23 man squad for the 2014 World Cup after having revealed eight names of the squad over the last month, or nine if one were to include Neymar. As expected, Scolari remained loyal to players that he has worked with in the past and consequently, the squad featured few surprises. 16 of the 23 players selected for the 2014 World Cup featured in Brazil’s 2013 Confederations Cup squad that decisively beat Spain 3-0 in the final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Highlights of the final 23 man selection include the following:

Inclusions

•AS Roma’s Maicon and Paris Saint-Germain’s Maxwell as backups to first choice fullbacks Dani Alves and Marcelo, respectively
•Fernandinho and Ramires in midfield despite not having participated in the 2013 Confederations Cup
•Hernanes despite a lackluster season at Inter Milan and difficulty obtaining consistent playing time
•Napoli’s Henrique as a backup central defender to complement Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Dante

Exclusions

•Former stars Ronaldinho, Kaka and Robinho
•Paris Saint-Germain’s Lucas Moura, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, Santos’s Leandro Damiao and Sao Paulo’s Paulo Henrique Ganso were all omitted from the squad but may well form part of Scolari’s list of 7 backup players
•The refusal to select Atletico Madrid’s Filipe Luis, despite having had a tremendous season at the club level
•The omission of defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva of Liverpool

Overall, Scolari has selected a fearsome squad with enviable quality and depth in central defense, amongst the fullbacks and in midfield. Interestingly, “Big Phil” chose to tip the balance of his midfield selection in favor of attacking midfielders, with Luiz Gustavo being the only pure holding midfielder in defensive midfield. While Paulinho, Fernandinho and Hernanes can play in deep midfield positions, they are equally accustomed to more attacking midfield positions as well, a quality that could become useful in the event that Oscar fails to recover from injury or perform well behind the triumvirate attack force of Neymar, Fred and Hulk. But Scolari’s decision to choose Willian and Bernard in midfield over Lucas Leiva, for example, suggests that he will be looking for goals from attacking midfield positions as much as from the strikers. Although many commentators, including Pele and Jairzinho, have criticized the squad for lacking brand name stars in the vein of Ronaldinho or Ronaldo from years past, Scolari has picked a young, talented squad with greater depth than Brazil’s World Cup squads of 2010 and 2006. The team is hugely talented in defense and midfield and composed of young players that are hungry for silverware, in addition to 6 players that have World Cup experience in the form of Dani Alves, Maicon, Thiago Silva, Fred, Ramires and Julio Cesar.

Brazil Squad For 2014 World Cup

Goalkeepers: Júlio César (Toronto FC), Jéfferson (Botafogo), Victor (Grêmio).
Central Defenders: David Luiz (Chelsea), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), Dante (Bayern Munich), Henrique (Napoli)
Fullbacks: Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (Roma), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Maxwell (Paris Saint-Germain)
Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Paulinho (Tottenham), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Ramires (Chelsea), Hernanes (Internazionale), Oscar (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk).
Strikers: Neymar (Barcelona), Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg), Jô (Atlético Mineiro), Fred (Fluminense).

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