Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari shockingly dropped both Ronaldinho and Kaka from the Brazil squad for the 2013 Confederations Cup tournament after having teased journalists for weeks by noting that there was room for one or the other of the two aging stars, but not both. Corinthians striker Alexandre Pato and Chelsea midfielder Ramires were also dropped from the squad. Held from June 15 to June 30, the Confederations Cup represents Brazil's last major tournament before the 2014 World Cup, and as such, Brazil's form will be meticulously studied in preparation for next summer's World Cup in Brazil.
Brazil is initially drawn with Japan, Mexico and Italy in a highly competitive berth with stiff competition likely to be delivered both by Mexico and Italy. The other half of the bracket features Spain, Uruguay, Tahiti and Nigeria. Like the 2014 World Cup, the 2013 Confederations Cup is based in Brazil and thereby gives FIFA an opportunity to assess the match-readiness of Brazil's stadiums and infrastructure and participating coaches and teams the experience of playing competitive football in Brazil.
A summary of key points from Scolari's squad selection includes the following:
•The selection of Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Dante and Rever as candidates for two positions in central defense
•The selection of Paulinho, Hernanes and Oscar in midfield
•The standard pairing of Marcelo and Dani Alves on the flanks
•A mouthwatering set of options in attack featuring Neymar, Fred, Hulk, Leandro Damiao and Atlético Mineiro's playmaker Bernard
•The omission of Ronaldinho despite his scintillating form for Atletico Mineiro of late in the Copa Libertadores
•The omission of Kaka despite having combined well with Neymar in select friendlies under Mano Menezes
•The omission of Corinthians striker Alexandre Pato, Chelsea midfielder Ramires and Vasco da Gama centreback Dede
But despite the omissions of Ronaldinho and Kaka, Scolari refused to close the door on veteran stars by noting:
"History is not over for the veterans. This list is for the Confederations Cup only. We have a project to watch other players who might add more to our group to the World Cup. After the CC [Confederations Cup], we'll be going to Europe, to places like Russia, Ukraine, England, to watch players from there. We'll see how this one goes and who else can add more to us. To everyone who was left out: play, show us your football, prove you can add to the squad. They could be planting a little seed for the future."
Ronaldinho responded to the omission from the 2013 Confederations Cup squad as follows: "Motivated more than ever. I really wanted to have been summoned, did not happen that way, so it motivates me so I have to play even more to be remembered in the future."
Scolari's omission of both Ronaldinho and Kaka heightened speculation about his probable selections in midfield and attack. In midfield, fans can expect Oscar and Hernanes but the key question is whether Scolari has the courage to push David Luiz deep into midfield, behind Hernanes, and partner Thiago Silva with Dante in central defense. The other obvious option would be to field Fernando and Paulinho behind Oscar and Hernanes. Scolari's midfield selection will dictate whether he opts for three attackers in the form of Neymar and Hulk flanking Fred, or simply Neymar and Fred with Hulk and Lucas Moura coming off the bench as substitutes.
Brazil Squad For 2013 Confederations Cup
Goalkeepers: Júlio César (QPR), Diego Cavalieri (Fluminense), Jefferson (Botafogo)
Central Defenders: Thiago Silva (PSG), Réver (Atlético-MG), David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich)
Fullbacks: Dani Alves (Barcelona), Jean (Fluminense), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid)
Midfielders: Fernando (Grêmio), Paulinho (Corinthians), Hernanes (Lazio), Luiz Gustavo (Bayern Munich), Oscar (Chelsea), Lucas Moura (PSG), Jadson (São Paulo), Bernard (Atlético-MG)
Strikers: Fred (Fluminense), Leandro Damião (Internacional), Hulk (Zenit), Neymar (Santos)