With the 2014 World Cup looming on the horizon, Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari has been hard at work fine-tuning his Selecao line-up ahead of the summer extravaganza. But as is always the case with the country’s incredible well of talent, many stars have been overlooked for the Selecao cause.
Here’s a starting XI of players deemed not good enough to wear the famed canary-yellow shirts and subsequently snubbed by Scolari.
Goalkeeper: Diego Alves
Valencia’s No.1 has been a busy boy this season, pulling off top class save after top class save, but is forever overlooked in favour of domestic-based keepers.
A reliable custodian for Los Che, Alves has earned a reputation as a shotstopper averaging 2.86 saves per game and conceding once every two saves.
A good job then, as he goes straight into our XI.
Defenders: RB: Marcos Rocha, CB: Marquinhos, CB: Miranda, RB: Filipe Luis
Brazil are commonly perceived as a nation focused on attacking football, but there are plenty of excellent defenders hailing from these shores as shown by the likes of Thiago Silva, Dante and David Luiz.
Atletico Mineiro’s Marcos Rocha is our first pick at the back for Brazil Reserves, slotting in at right-back in our four-man defence. Rocha typifies the swashbuckling Brazilian full-back with 18 chances created this season from the right and has notched two goals in the process.
At centre-back, we have PSG’s mega-money signing Marquinhos and Atletico Madrid star Miranda. The former will bring composure to the back line with a 92 per cent pass completion rate while the latter adds steel with a 94 per cent tackle success rate.
We return to Atletico Madrid once again for the final addition to our back four, as Filipe Luis deservedly takes his place in the line-up with an 82 per cent pass accuracy and 83 per cent tackle success rate.
Defensive Midfielders: DM: Fernando, DM: Sandro
Shakhtar Donetsk’s Fernando forms one half of our double pivot of defensive midfielders, charged with winning back the ball and distributing it calmly.
The former Gremio star is perfectly capable of both, with a 82 per cent pass completion rate and an average of five defensive actions per game.
Partnering him will be Tottenham’s Sandro, currently on the road back to full fitness after a lengthy injury and from what little we have seen from him so far has been impressive, winning 63 per cent of his duels so far.
Attacking Midfielders: AML: Jean, AMC: Jadson, AMR: Wellington Nem
Hit by injuries, it was difficult to select a midfield that was fully fit and raring to go from the leftovers, but this trio will provide pace, creativity and versatility.
With Ronaldinho and Philippe Coutinho ruled out due to injury, Sao Paulo’s Jadson slots straight in due to his combination of creative ability and defensive capabilities, shown by his 89 per cent tackle success rate.
Jadson will be supported by Fluminense’s Jean, a versatile midfielder capable of keeping the ball as evidence by his 88 per cent pass completion rate.
And finally, to provide a bit of pace, the jet-heeled Wellington Nem who scored seven goals from the right wing for Fluminense last season before moving to Shakhtar during the summer.
Centre Forward: Leandro Damiao
To act as a foil for the creative midfielders included in the team, we’ve recruited the services of a classic No.9 in Internacional target man Leandro Damiao.
With a good touch for a big man (ahem), Damiao can bring others into play as demonstrated by his four assists and 19 chances created in 18 games for Inter.
He can also contribute plenty of goals himself, having a stellar record of 85 goals in 165 games for his club.