Few surprises in Brazil World Cup squad

Scolari excludes Kaka as he names group of 23 for Rio 2014

 Brazilian national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Brazilian national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

 


With few surprises and a worrying dearth of superstar talent, Brazil’s coach Luiz Felipe Scolari yesterday named the 23 players charged with winning his country’s first World Cup on home soil.

Announcing the squad at a ceremony in Rio de Janeiro he stuck to the group he has built since returning for a second stint in charge of the five-time world champions in 2012, including 16 of the players that won last year’s Confederations Cup.

He ignored growing calls for the inclusion of Atlético de Madrid defenders Miranda and Filipe Luís after they helped steer the Spanish side to the Champions League final. Instead for his one genuine surprise he named Napoli’s Henrique in the squad. At 27 the defender has barely featured for the national side before but was a loyal Scolari lieutenant when he led Palmeiras to the Brazilian Cup in 2012.

Paulinho’s stuttering first season at Tottenham Hotpsurs did not damage his standing in the eyes of Scolari and he is one of six Premiership players in the squad. Chelsea provides four with Oscar, Willian, Ramires and David Luiz all included. Fernandinho’s move last summer from the Ukraine to a starring role in Manchester City’s title charge has paid off handsomely, making him one of the most prominent additions to the squad since last year’s Confederations Cup.


Out of favour
There was no place for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho or Paris Saint-Germain attacker Lucas. Older stars overlooked included Kaká and Luís Fabiano as well as Robinho.

Instead Brazil’s attack will be led by arguably the squad’s only genuine superstar, Barcelona forward Neymar.

The rest of the attack is distinctly less glamorous with Fluminense striker Fred and Hulk of Zenit St Petersburg likely to play alongside Neymar with Manchester City and Everton flop Jô in reserve.

What the squad might lack in glamour it makes up for in versatility and in Thiago Silva, Barcelona’s Daniel Alves, Real Madrid’s Marcelo it does not lack for leaders.

For most Brazilians the most important point is that it carries the mark of Scolari, a knock-out tournament specialist who won the country its fifth World Cup in Japan in 2002.

Brazil Squad: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Gremio); Dani Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (Inter Milan), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Maxwell (Paris St Germain), David Luiz (Chelsea), Thiago Silva (Paris St Germain), Dante (Bayern Munich), Henrique (Napoli); Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Paulinho (Tottenham), Ramires (Chelsea), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Oscar (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea), Hernanes (Inter Milan), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk); Fred (Fluminense), Neymar (Barcelona), Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg), Jo (Atletico Mineiro)

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