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Scolari Announces Selection for South Africa friendly

   

Scolari has announced a 16-player squad for the friendly against South Africa on March 5th. Only non-domestic players were called, and reports have suggested Scolari will call up any domestic-based players at a later date. Given that Scolari is also reported to have said he will select no more than 18 or 19 players in all for the match, I expect any further call-ups to be limited. It’s interesting to note that no true center-forwards have been called, nor a reserve left-back. In addition, only one goal-keeper has been chosen, the other two slots presumably being reserved for Jefferson, Diego Cavalieri, or perhaps Victor.

The list is as follows:

Goalkeeper:
Julio César (QPR)

Center-backs:
Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-German)
David Luiz (Chelsea)
Dante (Bayern Munich)

Right-back:
Rafinha (Bayern Munich)
Daniel Alves (Barcelona)

Left-back:
Marcelo (Real Madrid)

Midfielders:
Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg)
Paulinho (Tottenham)
Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Ramires (Chelsea)
Oscar (Chelsea)

Forwards/wingers:
Willian (Chelsea)
Hulk (Zenit)
Neymar (Barcelona)
Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk)

A few of my own thoughts:

I’m ecstatic for Fernandinho. I think he’s an incredible player, and if I were picking a Brazil 5-a-side team, he would be on there. I pray he gets at least 45 minutes.

I’m a little concerned that Hernanes was dropped. I think if he has good form for Inter he will be back, but the sneaky storyline of last year was that Hernanes in many ways was Brazil’s most consistent player. Never close to their best, mind you, but their most consistent. If you think of Hernanes’ role as that of someone who can provide more technique, passing, and general skill in the midfield, he only had one bad match the entire year. Some have suggested that Hernanes has been underwhelming for Brazil, but I think the exact opposite. I’ve noticed that many people pay great attention to midfielders capable of playing the “killer pass”, but there are other types of passes that are equally important, if not more so. Hernanes excels at these. Re-watching all of the 2013 matches as I have has really emphasized the skills he brings to the table, namely: the little dribble to get past his man and force other opponents to move over to cover; the ability to squeeze forward passes between defenders, or to send more swerving passes out to the flanks, all of which, while decidedly less glamorous than the “killer pass”, serve to start attacks with devastating effectiveness; and of course, movement off the ball. While he has been too-often miscast in a deeper-lying role, which highlights his defensive weaknesses, he almost always makes an impact on the tempo and tenor of the game when he comes in. Why both Mano and Scolari seem utterly determined not to play him in the attacking midfielder position is beyond me.

I’m disappointed, but not upset, that Kaka was left off. I wanted him to have one more chance. Similar to Ronaldinho four years ago, I want him on the team and think he could help greatly. Also similar to Ronaldinho four years ago, I think the team can win without him. (Those who have been around long enough will remember the many debates I had with those who couldn’t seem to understand the distinction.) I would have selected him myself, but it’s not worth fussing over. The same sentiment applies to both Coutinho and Diego.

I’m curious about the center-forward situation. I imagine Jo, Hernane, or maybe even Damiao will be called up soon, but in the meantime I can’t help but wonder if Scolari will try Hulk in that position, or even audition Neymar in a false 9 role, where he has excelled for Barcelona. I personally hope for the latter.

I’m surprised, but pleased, that Robinho wasn’t called again. Surprised, because he played well in November. Pleased because I think it was fool’s gold and he is no longer Selecao-quality. I will always love Robinho. His shirt is hanging next to Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos in my closet. But he has regressed dramatically and there are simply better options out there. Actually, “pleased” is way too strong a word. I’m not pleased at all – I just agree with Scolari’s decision and think it was a wise one.

On the other hand, I’m puzzled, confounded, bamboozled, befuddled, and overall just bewildered that Maicon wasn’t called again. There have been two players in 2013 who were NOT regulars under Mano who completely changed what the team was capable of doing. The first was Gustavo. The second was Maicon. We forget it now, but this team had LONG stretches of attacking malaise even during the Confederations Cup. Maicon brought a total new dimension to our attack. He made the right flank more viable than it has been. He brought back the overlap, something neither Dani Alves nor Marcelo really do. He brought more energy and more accurate crossing. He stretched the play and combined with his teammates in a way no other full-back has. He’s a total pro and a veteran to boot. He was a revelation. One dumb mistake against Portugal aside, how can he be dropped?

Maybe, as some have suggested below, Scolari simply knows what he has in Maicon and wanted to give someone else a chance. Okay, well and good. Then why not leave off Dani Alves? If there’s one player who we know exactly what we have, it’s Alves. Besides, leaving him off would serve notice that he has to do a lot better to guarantee a place in the squad. It’s just bizarre.

As to Rafinha…I’m not opposed to his selection in and of itself. All I will say is that I find him consistently underwhelming almost every time I see him. On the other hand, I thought the same of Gustavo at first. But I’m pretty confident in saying that Rafinha is not a better player than Maicon.

That’s all for now. The 2nd part of my “2013 Recap” series is completely done and ready to go, but I’ll hold off on posting it until tomorrow.


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