Opinion, by Robbie Blakeley
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Seleção coach Luiz Felipe Scolari this morning announced his squad for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and it was refreshing to see some daring in the coach’s choices. Much debate has surrounded the possible, and previously likely, call-up of either Ronaldinho Gaúcho or Kaká. But neither has convinced in the famous yellow shirt of late and Scolari took the bold decision in axing both from his final list of 23.
The most exciting inclusion is that of Ronaldinho’s Atlético-MG teammate, Bernard. The twenty-year-old playmaker excelled last year and is reportedly on the summer wishlist of some European giants, including Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund.
Scolari is known as a cautious coach. He builds his side around a solid defensive unit and looks to hit teams on the counter attack. But two reasons have compelled the 2002 world champion to take a different approach this time around. Firstly, the Confederations Cup is not a major international tournament.
No coach is lauded for lifting its trophy. Therefore Scolari can take advantage of the next series of games to tinker with his players; the major audition in anticipation of opening night on June 12, 2004.
Secondly, Brazil are under enormous pressure to lift the World Cup next July. As five-time champions the Brazilians are always expected to be challenging for the Jules Rimet trophy, but the added pressure of home advantage appears to have taken the strain on the team in recent friendlies.
By throwing caution to the wind the team can finally throw off the shackles that has restricted their play since the removal of Scolari’s predecessor Mano Menezes. Menezes had begun to give his team an identity and the CBF’s bizarre timing of his dismissal meant the national side took two steps back with a new tactical set-up.
The defense and midfield should contain few surprises. The experienced Júlio César should start in goal, behind a back four of Jean, Thiago Silva, Rever and Marcelo.
Scolari has shown a liking for a midfield pairing of Fernando and Paulinho this year to sit in front of the defense. But his attacking four threatens to light up the Confederations Cup. Spearheaded by Fred, the young trio of Oscar, Neymar and Bernard, can give Brazil’s new generation the identity it has been screaming out for.
Brazil 2013 Confederations Cup in full:
Goalkeepers: Júlio César (QPR), Diego Cavalieri (Fluminense), Jefferson (Botafogo)
Full-backs: Dani Alves (Barcelona), Jean (Fluminense), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid)
Center-halves: Thiago Silva (PSG), Réver (Atlético-MG), David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich)
Midfielders: Fernando (Grêmio), Paulinho (Corinthians), Hernanes (Lazio), Luiz Gustavo (Bayern Munich)
Playmakers: Bernard (Atlético-MG), Oscar (Chelsea), Lucas Moura (PSG), Jadson (São Paulo), Neymar (Santos)
Strikers: Fred (Fluminense), Leandro Damião (Internacional), Hulk (Zenit)