Time is running out for the Brazilian team to get their act together for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Brazil who was rated as the top team in the world in 2002 is now rated at number eighteen and falling. In recent warm-up games, the Selecao have lost to England (2-1), drawn with Italy (1-1) and drawn with Russia (2-2).
Scolari is not waiting on official friendlies and have started playing friendlies using their local based players. In a game against Bolivia, Brazil won handsomely 4-0 and against Chile drew 2-2.
Brazil has two pending international friendlies coming up against England and France. Brazil is the host of the Confederation Cup which serves as the forerunner for the World Cup. The Confederation Cup will be played in Brazil from June 15-30, 2013 and should be a test as to where the Scolari coached squad is in preparation for 2014 World Cup. In the Confederation Cup, Brazil will compete against Spain, Germany, Argentina, Japan and others.
There is no lack of talent inside or outside of Brazil. Brazil did not perform well in the 2006 World Cup when they were knocked out by France. Under Dunga’s tutelage, Brazil also was knocked out in the quarter final in South Africa when they lost to the Netherlands. From 2012 to 2013 Brazil has been struggling to be like Brazil. Under Mano Menezes the Selecao never found their stride and in a practice match against Germany were clobbered. The Brazilian Federation lost confidence in Mano and called back Scolari who had won the World Cup for Brazil in 2002. Scolari in 2014 will either be the hero or the goat.
In a recent interview with a Brazilian publication, Scolari indicated that he will go either with Kaka or Ronaldinho as his playmaker. Kaka was recalled for the friendlies against Italy and Russia. Ronaldinho was recalled for the English game and then again for the matches against Bolivia and Chile. Kaka has not managed to break into Real Madrid’s starting team and has not looked like the Kaka of old. Ronaldinho in the game at Wembley against England was taken off at half time but against Bolivia, the old maestro looked like the Ronaldinho of old. Scolari has stated that he has been impressed with Ronaldinho’s form at Atletico Minero. In the Bolivian game, Neymar and Ronaldinho combined beautifully and Neymar has expressed a preference for playing beside Ronaldinho.
Scolari will soon name his squad for the Confederation Cup and that will tell us which players are likely to represent Brazil in the 2014 World Cup. There is no shortage of talent. As central defenders, there are David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Dante and Dede. As full backs, there are Dani Alves, Rafael, Marcelo and Adriano. In mid-field, there is Paulinho, Hermanes, Ramires, Oscar and Ferdinand. As forwards, there is Hulk, Neymar, Kaka, Ronaldinho, Osvaldo, Damiao and Fred. Kaka or Ronaldinho is considered to play the role as playmaker, but Scolari should not overlook Coutinho who has shown at Liverpool that he is a mega star in the making.
Scolari must bring players who can forge the right chemistry. That togetherness will determine whether Scolari is the right man for the job or one who will suffer a similar fate like his predecessors, Dungo and Menezes. In the world of soccer, managers can determine whether teams achieve greatness or wallow in mediocrity. At this juncture in their football history, Brazil is in need of a Sir Alex Ferguson. If Scolari succeeds, he will be known not as “Big Phil” but as “Sir Felipe”.