Brazil Under-20 coach Emerson Ávila named his provisional squad for the 2013 South American Youth Championship on Tuesday, as Brazil look to seal a fourth consecutive continental crown. The extent of their desire to do so was made clear by the decision to include four European-based players in the squad, besides Chelsea-bound Wallace, in a break from the policy of previous years.
Brazil are proud of their performance at Under-20 level and the eleven-time South American champions have named a squad that offers plenty of first-team experience, as well as no shortage of individual talent. In the last three editions of the tournament alone, Brazil have been carried to titles the likes of Alexandre Pato, Sandro, Willian, Lucas Leiva, Oscar, Lucas Moura and, of course, Neymar – all of whom have gone on to achieve considerable success.
The core of the 2013 side is that of 2011 Under-17 World Cup, where Ávila also managed the Seleção. Roma centre-back Marquinhos (pictured), right-back Wallace, Grêmio enforcer Misael, Flamengo playmaker Adryan and São Paulo hotshot Ademilson will all hope to feature in the first-choice eleven come January, having all graduated onto senior level with their respective club-sides.
Brazil’s hopes of a title retention, which will be no easy task in Argentina, will be strengthened further should Barcelona B midfielder Rafael Alcantara accept the call of his motherland. Elder brother Thiago has pinned his colours to the Spanish mast, but Rafinha has shown a greater inclination to represent Brazil and follow in his father’s footsteps.
Indeed, 1994 World Cup winner Mazinho will be able to share a glass of wine with an old friend, should he choose to travel to the event, with former team-mate Bebeto will also celebrating the inclusion of his offspring in the provisional 27-man squad. Until now, Mattheus had been more famous for a goal celebration he inspired than for his own footballing exploits. (Remember the cradle-rocking of Bebeto in ’94?)
The man who will be tasked to guide the team in attack, though, will be Santos playmaker Felipe Anderson. Coming off the back of a fine campaign for his club, in which he came of age following the departure of Ganso, the young midfielder is riding the crest of a wave that has seen him heavily tipped to make a January move to AC Milan. If Brazil are to succeed in winning the tournament once more, they will need the mature, confident Felipe Anderson of the last six months to guide his younger, less experienced colleagues through some potentially challenging situations.
Grêmio speedster Leandro will have the chance to prove he is back on track after a dramatic loss of form in 2011 that lasted the best part of a year, while midfielders Fred and Jadson have both seen plenty of first-team action this campaign, for Internacional and Botafogo respectively.
Vasco centre-back Luan is another who has seen first-team action this year, but with 18-year-old Dória one of the revelations of the 2012 Brasileirão and Marquinhos impressing for Roma, he is likely to have to settle for a substitutes berth. A similar situation may be the outcome for Marcos Junior and Bruno Mendes, despite their impressive seasons, with Ademilson and Leandro likely to start in the forward roles.
Likewise, the powerful Fabinho who, despite his performances in the Copa São Paulo for Fluminense earning him a complex move to Real Madrid, will almost certainly watch on as Wallace takes the starting right-back berth.
It will be a long and arduous tournament, which will test the full extent of Brazil’s eventual 20-man squad. Indeed, managing his resources will be Emerson Ávila’s greatest task in ensuring a successful campaign. The eventual selection must offer enough depth and versatility to cover for the required rotation, whilst not sacrificing specialists in key positions. These are the decisions that will ultimately determine whether Ávila has a long-term future as a coach in the Brazil National Team set-up
Goalkeepers: Matheus Caldeira (Corinthians), Jordi (Vasco da Gama), Luis Gustavo (Vitória)
Defenders: Samir (Flamengo), Marquinhos (Roma), Doria (Botafogo), Luan (Vasco da Gama), Douglas (Náutico), Mansur (Vitória), Wallace (Fluminense), Fabinho (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Jadson (Botafogo), Misael (Grêmio), Talisca (Bahia), Gabriel (Vitória), Filipe (Rio Ave), Felipe Anderson (Santos), Rafinha (Barcelona), Mattheus (Flamengo), Guilherme Biteco (Grêmio), Fred (Internacional), Adryan (Flamengo)
Forwards: Marcos Junior (Fluminense), Bruno Mendes (Botafogo), Ademilson (São Paulo), Leandro (Grêmio), Willie (Vitória)