Brazil are currently ranked the 19th best team in the world, their lowest ever FIFA ranking. This side, however, is by no means their worst team ever. Currently considered as favorites for glory on home soil at the 2014 World Cup it’s hard to see how they’re ranked 19th.
Their recent results include losing to England but drawing 2-2 with Italy and their last game was a 0-4 thrashing of Bolivia. Lead by manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, the former Chelsea manager who was also the last man to lead Brazil to World Cup glory 11 years ago in Yokohama. The Brazilian team finished with a silver medal at London 2012, a team which contained many current first team players such as Neymar, Hulk and Leandro Damiao.
If anyone doubts that Brazil are major contenders for the World Cup, firstly they haven’t a clue about football and secondly all you need to do is look at who they have in their arsenal and then you’ll see why they are a force to fear:
In the goalkeeping department they have one of the stars of QPR’s dismal season in Júlio César, as well as Botafogo’s Jefferson and Valencia’s Diego Alves. All three are top goalkeepers, César has 6 clean sheets for a side sitting 19th at the time of writing. Alves, according to www.lfp.es, has made 78 saves in 22 games. You haven’t got much of a chance of winning anything without a decent goalkeeper and Brazil have 3.
As far as full backs go they have players such as Manchester United player Rafael, Barcelona pair Dani Alves and Adriano as well as Real Madrid player Marcelo. Rafael has scored 3 goals this season, contributing 5 assists and has made 76 Premier League appearances overall for Manchester United. In Alves, Brazil have a man who has made 33 successful crosses in 24 games and has been Barcelona’s right back for years. Adriano although, hasn’t been a first team player for Barcelona has made 17 international appearances and has made 59 appearances in the league for Barca. Marcelo is the only recognized left-sided player that I have mentioned, his one of those players who is good enough to be one of the world’s best but his temperament is a problem. Despite this anyone who Roberto Carlos hails as ‘the best in the world’, Maradona claimed was the ‘third best player in La Liga’ and Paolo Maldini has also praised is clearly a terrific talent, aged just 24 he has made over 150 appearances in the league for Real and has 18 Brazil caps to his name.
Looking at their options in the centre of defence and names like Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Dedé and Dante stand out. Dedé and Dante are perhaps the most unrecognized, Dedé who has been linked with Inter Milan, Manchester United and Liverpool, plays his football for Brazilian side Vasco da Gama. Good in the air and strong, he is a very good player who would make the starting 11 for most if not all Premier League sides. He was chosen by SBT as one of the 100 greatest Brazilians ever. Watch out for Dedé in the future. Dante has been a key part of Bayern Munich’s title winning season this season, making 27 appearances for them this season. He is tall, powerful and good in the air, he has made 2 appearance for Brazil this year. Every Premier League fan will know all about David Luiz, 20 Brazilian caps, 55 Chelsea league appearances and 72 appearances for Benfica. In Thiago Silva, they have one of the best centre backs in world football. His performance in the Champions League against Barcelona earned him many deserved admirers and is the current Brazil captain. Transferred to PSG from AC Milan for €42 million he is aged 28 and has 32 caps for his country, probably the best central defender in the world.
Players such as Zenit’s €60 million man Hulk, Lucas Moura and a lesser known Bernard. The latter is another young talent playing in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A playing for Atlético Mineiro. Aged 20, he has 11 goals to his name from 36 games from the wing. Lucas Moura is a team mate of Thiago Silva having signed for PSG for €45 million. He has 23 caps to his name scoring 3 times at the age of just 20. Despite, not being much of a contributor in the goals department, he makes up for it in the way of assists. Zenit’s Hulk, who may not be a Zenit player for much longer, is the star man on the wing for Brazil. 13 appearances and 4 goals so far for Zenit after scoring 54 goals in just 99 games for FC Porto. He is strong, pacy and has a great free-kick Hulk is a danger man, who despite playing in Russia we may see before 2014 if he, as expected, leaves Zenit.
The central midfielders of the Brazilian team are Paulinho, Kaká, Oscar, Sandro, Ramires and a certain Ronaldinho. Lets start with Ronnie, the star name of the list despite being 33 he will be a contender for the squad in a years time. I don’t need to go into detail about one of the greatest players ever but having made 33 appearances for Mineiro scoring 9 times proves he’s still good enough, as well as 96 caps with 33 goals for Brazil. Ronaldinho, if part of the squad, will be a star man not just for Brazil, but for the entire tournament itself. Paulinho as well as Bernard and Dedé is another Brazil based talent. Playing for Corinthians he is a typical box-to-box midfielder, he has 10 caps for Brazil. Currently being chased by Chelsea, Manchester City and Inter Milan, he has made 85 appearances for Corinthians scoring 19 goals from central midfield. Kaká, despite not living up to his €65 million price tag at Real Madrid, has made 80 appearances in the league for Madrid scoring 22 goals. He has 87 Brazil caps scoring 29 goals. Techincally gifted, a great passer of the ball and has a goal in him. The last 3 are all London based Oscar and Ramires of Chelsea and Sandro of Spurs. Oscar has always struck me as a younger Kaká, an exciting prospect. Ramires is a different kind of centre midfielder, pacy, good on the ball, in my opinion he is like a winger playing the central midfield, running at players beating them and is a very good player. Sandro is a defensive minded player, strong, good on the ball and has developed into a key player for Spurs. He has 17 caps for Brazil and regular member of the side.
Upfront they can call on players like Leandro Damião, Alexandre Pato and of course Neymar. Damião is subject of heavy interest from Spurs, currently playing for Internacional in Brazil he has made 28 goals for Internacional, he has made 15 appearances for Brazil scoring 3 times. Damião is great in the air, a typical poacher Damião is all about goals and this is what he brings to the side. Pato since moving back to Brazil and scoring with his first touch back in his homeland. He made 117 appearances for AC Milan scoring 51 times. He has 23 caps for Brazil scoring on 9 occasions. Neymar is the star man of the side, rated as the finest young talent in world football, and touted as a potential successor to Messi as the world’s greatest player. He has so far scored 14 goals in 17 games in the league and has overall scored 135 goals in 215 games. Aged just 21 and tracked by every team capable of affording such a talent he could be the man to win the World Cup for Brazil.
Strength in depth is key and Brazil certainly have that, experience would come in the form of Ronnie, Kaká, Thiago Silva and Julío César. Star quality, the potential to win a game single-handedly for Brazil come from players like Ronnie, Neymar and Alexandre Pato. In Luiz Felipe Scolari they have a manager that’s been around club and international football and has vast experience, just the man to manage them to success.
In most World Cups there’s a surprise or two, but if you see Thiago Silva lifting the trophy come the 13th July 2014 it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise.