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Next

Marcotti: A tournament to remember

World Cup Jul 14, 2014
Read
 Posted by Jack Lang
Jul 10, 2014

Who stays and who goes?

FC's Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and Robbie Earle lay into Brazil for their poor play.

Brazilians might just about be recovering their breath after the shock and awe of Tuesday night's Mineirazo, but the inquest is just getting started. The Selecao's worst ever World Cup defeat has sparked understandable soul-searching in Brazil, with fans and journalists alike trying to make sense of the savage 7-1 loss to Germany.

Much of the ire thus far has been directed at coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who, despite remaining tight-lipped over his future in the wake of the game, will surely vacate the building after this most galling of failures. "Go to hell, Felipao," read one front page on Wednesday. It captured the nation's mood.

Nor have Scolari's charges been immune to the immediate ire. Newspaper O Globo awarded every single player who appeared at the Mineirao zero out of 10 and accompanied each rating with a single word summary: "Lost ... demolished ... weak ... irrelevant ... tragic." If there was a silver lining, it certainly was not being sought out.

Julio Cesar has had a decent World Cup but is too old to lead Brazil forward.
Julio Cesar has had a decent World Cup but is too old to lead Brazil forward.

But while debates over the structural changes that must be made to get Brazilian football back on track will rage for months and years, there is a more pressing question at hand: Which members of the current squad deserve to be preserved for next year's Copa America -- and, thinking further ahead, the 2018 World Cup?

Onto the scrap heap

A number of players have feasibly ended their Brazil careers this summer. Fred, a goal poacher who has only managed to poach one goal, is unlikely to be knocking around the squad for much longer after a thoroughly disappointing tournament. The outlook is even worse for Jo, who never even came close to breaking into Scolari's starting XI, despite Fred's travails.

At 32, backup left-back Maxwell's international career also looks over, while Henrique owed his call-up to having played under Scolari at Palmeiras. Their inclusion in this Brazil squad at the expense of Atletico Madrid's Filipe Luís and Miranda remains one of the great mysteries of this World Cup -- and one of the most damning indictments of Felipao's stewardship.

The old guard

Julio Cesar was one of the few bright lights for Brazil this summer, but he will be 38 by the next World Cup. Both he and Maicon almost bit the bullet after Brazil's poor 2010 campaign, so it is enormously unlikely they have another competition in the tank.

Reserve goalkeepers Jefferson and Victor are also on the wrong side of 30, as is Daniel Alves. The Barcelona man has showed little sign of slowing down at club level but has been poor this World Cup, particularly at the defensive end. He might survive for now, due to the lack of a ready replacement, but it would be a surprise if he were still a starter in 2018.

Something to prove

A number of players will be looking to prove they deserve to be part of the Selecao's future after seeing their reputations damaged this summer. Paulinho, so timid in midfield in the group stages, will need to recapture the form that made him such a key player for Corinthians and Brazil in 2013. Given that he is 25, time is on his side, which cannot be said of Fernandinho. The Manchester City man impressed against Cameroon and Colombia but was so bad against Germany that you wonder whether he will reappear for the Amarelinha. The same applies to Dante.

Two more midfielders, Hernanes and Ramires, also have uncertain futures. The former is a huge talent but has always been a square peg in a team of round holes at the international level. He might receive a new lease on life if Brazil's next coach is a touch more committed to passing football. Ramires, meanwhile, only started one game this summer and was taken off at half-time amid fears he would be sent off. That is hardly a ringing endorsement, but he should stick around.

Fred's international career is well and truly over.
Fred's international career is well and truly over.

Further forward, Hulk should keep his place for the Copa America but will need to step up his game. His work rate and bluster have protected him from too much criticism at the World Cup, but his end product has left a lot to be desired.

Likely to stick around

Willian, so lively in the pre-tournament friendly wins over Panama and Serbia, can feel aggrieved not to have played more. Many expected him to start against Germany; Bernard, who was dropped in at the deep end, probably wishes he had.

Marcelo also had a tough time against Joachim Low's side, though his defensive frailties have long been known. He remains, however, a thrilling contributor in attack at his best. It would be a shame to see him cast aside.

In it for the long haul

There are five players in the current squad who should be pillars of Brazil's mooted new dawn. One of them, obviously, is Neymar, the one attacking player who consistently got fans onto their feet this summer.

Obviously, Neymar will be the anchor for Brazil moving forward. But who will join him?
Obviously, Neymar will be the anchor for Brazil moving forward. But who will join him?

Oscar, who was to some extent sacrificed to allow Neymar to shine, will also be a key figure in the coming years. He could probably do with a long rest, rather than playing in the Copa America next summer, however. Luiz Gustavo, the silent man in Brazil's midfield, was overrun against Germany but has otherwise been impeccable.

All of which leaves two defenders. David Luiz has been heavily criticized in the wake of Tuesday's match -- and with good reason. But his record alongside Thiago Silva is unimpeachable: 21 wins, five draws, no defeats. Emotion got the better of both in this World Cup, but the experience could be the making of them.

Jack Lang

Jack Lang writes about football (mainly Brazilian) for a number of websites and publications, including The Mirror, Yahoo! Eurosport, When Saturday Comes and UEFA.com. You can find links to all his articles on his blog, Snap, Kaká and Pop!.

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