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May 7, 2014

Kaka left out of Brazil squad

ESPN FC's Rubens Pozzi discusses the Brazil squad named for the World Cup.

SAO PAOLO -- Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari announced his World Cup squad on Wednesday without any major surprises, choosing most of the players who won last year's Confederations Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo feels Neymar will show his worth at Barcelona.
Neymar was included in Brazil's 23-man World Cup squad.

Scolari's 23-name list includes 16 players who were in the team that won last year's warm-up tournament by beating world champion Spain in the final.

The team will mix talented young stars such as Neymar and Oscar with more experienced players such as Dani Alves, David Luiz, Thiago Silva and Hulk.

Past stars such as Ronaldinho, Kaka and Robinho were left off the squad as expected.

"I don't think this lack of World Cup experience will play a big part," Scolari said. "Our players have been gaining experience in their leagues in Europe, and I don't think they will be affected by this too much, although in certain World Cup situations, having that experience would be important. But I fully trust these players."

The squad announcement was a high-profile event in Brazil, with television stations juggling their programming to broadcast it live. More than 700 journalists, many from abroad, were accredited for the event at a traditional concert house in Rio de Janeiro.

Kaka and Robinho -- the stars in the 2010 World Cup -- still had hopes of playing in the tournament at home but were left off the list, as were former AC Milan forward Alexandre Pato and 34-year-old Ronaldinho, the 2002 world champion who missed out on his chance of making it to one last World Cup.

Only five players from this year's list were in the 2010 tournament -- Julio Cesar, Silva, Alves, Maicon and Ramires. Fred didn't make it to South Africa but was in the squad for the 2006 tournament in Germany.

Scolari had already confirmed nine players on the squad -- Luiz, Oscar, Ramires, Willian, Paulinho, Cesar, Silva, Fred and Neymar. He said there were only two spots remaining in the team, with the doubts related to the third goalkeeper and the fourth central defender, positions that were filled by Atletico Mineiro goalkeeper Victor and Napoli defender Henrique.

Seven alternates will be announced in the coming days.

Brazil's starting 11 in the World Cup will likely be the same that played in the Confederations Cup. Brazil has won 13 of its last 14 matches, the only loss coming in a friendly against Switzerland after the warm-up tournament.

Scolari's revamped squad is not filled with stars as in previous tournaments, but he managed to put together a squad that mixes talent and competitiveness. The team will be led by 22-year-old Barcelona striker Neymar, the player carrying most of the fans' hopes.

"My childhood dream came true," Neymar said on Instagram. "Today was one of the most anticipated days of my life. It's time to represent the entire country. I'm completely moved, anxious and nervous. I want it to arrive soon."

The roster includes six players from teams in England, four from Brazil, three each from Italy and Spain, two apiece from France and Germany, and one each from Major League Soccer, Russia and Ukraine. Among the bypassed were Lucas Leiva, Lucas Moura and Felipe Luis.

"The young players create a great environment and they enjoy what they do," Scolari told the media. "Sometimes it is easier to work with them than with the more experienced players."

The defense will have Silva alongside Luiz, with Alves on the right flank and Marcelo on the left. Paulinho and Luiz Gustavo will protect the defense, and Oscar will feed the attack that also has Hulk and Fred.

Scolari has already said that the starting goalkeeper will be Cesar, who is playing for Toronto FC in Major League Soccer. Cesar's mistake played a role in Brazil's loss to the Netherlands in the 2010 quarterfinals. Brazil also was eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2006 in Germany, losing to France.

This year, Brazil is in Group A with Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon. It will open against Croatia on June 12 in Sao Paulo.

"The selection was easier than in 2002," Scolari said. "It won't make A, B or C happy, but that is normal. But this is the moment to work together."

Complete squad:

Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Atletico Mineiro)

Defenders: David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), Henrique (Napoli), Maicon (Roma), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Maxwell (Paris Saint-Germain)

Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Paulinho (Tottenham), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Ramires (Chelsea), Oscar (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea), Hernanes (Inter Milan)

Strikers: Hulk (Zenit St. Petersburg), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk), Neymar (Barcelona), Jo (Atletico Mineiro), Fred (Fluminense)

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