Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari on Wednesday unveiled the 23 men he trusts can deliver a sixth FIFA World Cup™ ahead of this year's event starting 12 June on home soil. Having already led the most successful nation in the tournament's history to their fifth title at Korea/Japan 2002, Scolari is now out to lay the ghosts of 1950, when A Seleção lost the trophy match to Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro.
His list contained no major surprises, although AC Milan forward Robinho missed the cut along with former FIFA Ballon d'Or winners Ronaldinho and Kaka, an echo of his decision to dump Romario more than a decade ago. Robinho missed the cut despite facing Chile in a recent friendly. With Scolari having said for months he knew in his own mind who he wanted to pick, save for one or two exceptions, the focus was on who would provide back-up for a first XI who saw off world champions Spain in last year's FIFA Confederations Cup warm-up.
For the defensive second string, Paris Saint-Germain's Maxwell edged out Atletico Madrid's Filipe Luis, while veteran defender Maicon won out at the expense of Bayern Munich's Rafinha, even though the latter had played in a March friendly romp against South Africa. Henrique of Napoli, fresh from lifting the Coppa Italia, also claimed a spot in the middle, and Scolari completed his contingent with Manchester City's Fernandinho and Inter Milan's Hernanes.
Scolari had already named as his four captains defensive linchpins Tiago Silva and David Luiz, veteran striker Fred of Fluminense and goalkeeper Julio Cesar, despite Cesar now playing in Major League Soccer with Toronto FC. In 2002, Scolari preferred a 3-4-3 line up with Ronaldo at its apex. But now he and technical coordinator Carlos Alberto Parreira will likely base their hopes on a 4-2-3-1 permutation with the idea that star man Neymar of Barcelona can enjoy a free role.
Just four of the players are with Brazilian clubs - reserve keepers Jefferson and Victor and strikers Fred and Jo, the latter who had brief spells in England with Manchester City and Everton. Scolari could have named 30 players before later trimming them back by 2 June. But the Brazilian Football Confederation had indicated ahead of Wednesday he was happy to name his final squad now in readiness for group games against Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon.
Scolari will now welcome his selection at the end of May to the refurbished Granja Comary training complex outside the rural town of Teresopolis. He will then oversee a 3 June friendly against Panama at Goiana and a final warm-up against Serbia three days later at the Morumbi stadium in Sao Paulo before the Cup starts at the Corinthians Arena on 12 July.
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC/CAN), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Atletico Mineiro)
Defenders: Dante (Bayern Munich/GER), David Luiz (Chelsea/ENG), Henrique (Napoli/ITA), Thiago Silva (PSG), Daniel Alves (Barcelona/ESP), Maicon (Roma/ITA), Marcelo (Real Madrid/ESP), Maxwell (Paris St Germain/FRA)
Midfielders: Fernandinho (Manchester City/ENG), Hernanes (Inter Milan/ITA), Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg/GER), Oscar (Chelsea/ENG), Paulinho (Tottenham/ENG), Ramires (Chelsea/ENG), Willian (Chelsea/ENG)
Forwards: Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk/UKR), Fred (Fluminense), Hulk (Zenit Saint-Petersburg/RUS), Jo (Atletico Mineiro), Neymar (Barcelona/ESP)
* Squad lists are only official once they have been confirmed and published by FIFA on 16 May at 12:00 CET.