Brazil’s midfield at the 2014 World Cup was an utter disgrace. More content with kicking opponents rather than showing any kind of flair or creativity.
I am not entirely sure what it is that Paulinho does, or what he brings to a team. He was atrocious for Tottenham all season, and the fact that Scolari persevered with him for so long in Brazil is testament to the fact that his judgement was way off. The alternatives weren’t much better though.
Fernandinho had a great season for Man City this year and performed well when called upon for Brazil, but then seemed more determined to perform the job of hatchet man. It’s such a tragic waste of talent, as he is more than capable of playing some beautiful football when he wants to.
Luiz Gustavo is decent enough, but shouldn’t really be anywhere near the Brazil side. His sole responsibility was to sit and protect the back four whenever the full-backs (and David Luiz) went forward in search of adventure and glory. He performed that job so well at the Confederations Cup last year, but couldn’t repeat the performances in Brazil.
Needed more chances for others
Hernanes was never given a chance to show what he can do, but when I have seen him play for Inter Milan, he flits from brilliant to abysmal so often over the course of a match that he is clearly considered too inconsistent to run Brazil’s midfield.
Ramires is another player who I am unsure about. He isn’t a defensive player, and doesn’t have the creativity to be a playmaker. So what is his role? I genuinely do not know. He is lauded at Chelsea, but for me, his involvement with the national side is due more to his fitness levels and willingness to not stop running rather than his footballing ability.
The most worrying thing about this particular department for Brazil is the distinctive lack of any truly viable alternatives.
Gone are the glory days of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo. Even a Luis Fabiano would have been nice! Instead, at the heart of their attack at the World Cup, Brazil had a choice of Fred or Jo. Both are ordinary at best, and neither of them is blessed with any great pace, trickery or finesse. Fred top scored in the Confederations Cup in 2013, although that tournament now seems painfully irrelevant and second rate at this juncture.
The wide/creative players in Scolari’s squad were a mixture of the sublime - Neymar and occasionally Oscar - and the ridiculous - everybody else. Hulk failed to score a goal or register an assist throughout the entirety of the World Cup. He at least appeared to try hard in some matches, but his first touch always looked too heavy, and his shooting was all power and not accuracy. His decision making also leaves a lot to be desired.
Willian always looked like a rabbit trapped in the headlights whenever he was called upon, making it hard to believe that he was the same player that performed so admirably for Chelsea last season.
Good, but not ready
Bernard was another who tried hard, but was unable to make any impact. He seems a little too lightweight at the moment to stamp his authority on a game. The fact he struggles to break into his club side in Donetsk should preclude him from playing for Brazil.
Neymar was fantastic before he got injured, but not even he could do it all on his own. He was a surrounded by such mediocrity that he was constantly fighting a losing battle. He looks set to be the poster boy of Brazilian football for years to come. They will need to rebuild their broken team around him.
Oscar looked like a player who hadn’t had a rest for the last three years. He was leggy and laboured, and was only able to show his true brilliance in flashes. However, he showed enough to suggest he still has a part to play in Brazil’s future.
This was meant to be the World Cup where Alexandre Pato joined the list of great Brazilian strikers at World Cup finals. However, injuries and an alarming slump in form have seen him relegated to the subs bench at Sao Paulo.
Ademilson and Alan Kardec are talked about as potential Seleção forwards, and will hopefully be given a chance in the coming season to prove that they can transfer their form at club and Youth level to the senior ranks.
Roberto Firmino had a great season for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga last term, and is another who needs to be given an opportunity. He is not that well known as yet, but is a star in the making; I can assure you of that.
Another star in the making is young Gabriel Barbosa who plays at Santos. He is only 17 at the moment, but great things are expected of him, and the fact his nickname is Gabigol suggests he knows his way around the penalty box.
Lucas Moura at PSG and Coutinho at Liverpool can both consider themselves unfortunate at being overlooked for the final 23 man squad. Coutinho in particular was magnificent as Liverpool came close to winning a first league title in 24 years.