Five players Brazil should have called
They say that while success has many fathers, failure is always an orphan. That, though, is categorically not the case for this Brazilian World Cup campaign, at least in the eyes of the local media, who have spent the days since the earth-shattering defeat to Germany pointing the finger at anyone with even a passing connection to the squad.
Among the players, most of the blame has fallen upon the shoulders of those whose errors handed victory to Joachim Low's side: David Luiz, Dante, Fernandinho and Marcelo. Really, though, only Thiago Silva, Neymar and Júlio César will emerge from the tournament with any credit at all.
Plenty of criticism also has been leveled at the backroom staff, not least Brazil technical director Carlos Alberto Parreira, whose bullish, unrepentant attitude after the game stunned most right-minded observers. Then there is federation chief José Maria Marin, so keen to soak up the PR glow of the World Cup a few weeks ago but so notable by his silence now.
The first victim of the guillotine, of course, is likely to be coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. Tactically, he got it all wrong against Germany. Instead of following his scouts' advice and bolstering his midfield, he elected for the nippy, playground flair of Bernard on the flank. The 21-year-old never looked like he was making an impression, while Luiz Gustavo and Fernandinho were outnumbered and overwhelmed in the centre of the park.
But perhaps Scolari's biggest errors came in his squad selection. Both he and Neymar have insisted in recent days that anyone would have picked the same 23, but that does not ring true. One look at the squad reveals players (Henrique, Maxwell, Jô) who could and should have been left out in favour of other, more dynamic options.
Here are five players whom 'Felipão' ought to have selected:
The Atlético Madrid man might not have begun the tournament in the starting XI, but his defensive prowess would have been an enormous boon against Germany. After such a superb season at club level, it was staggering that Scolari opted to leave him at home. He is arguably a better fullback than Marcelo, and a far, far better one than Maxwell.
One can only assume that Scolari did not watch a great deal of Spanish football last term. Miranda, a teammate of Luís, was also influential as Atlético Madrid won La Liga for the first time since 1995-96. Strong in the air and accomplished with the ball at his feet, he could have been a useful option in the absence of Thiago Silva.
If this Brazil squad lacks one thing, it is creativity in the final third. Neymar impressed in spurts, but Oscar was unable to produce his vibrant best, and Hulk arguably contributed more defensively than in attack. Coutinho, who last season finally began to live up to the promise he showed as a teenager, would have helped to unlock opposition defences more frequently.
Elected the best player in last season's Campeonato Brasileiro, the Cruzeiro schemer would also have added some subtlety to the Selecão's play. Capable of playing wide or behind a striker, Éverton has been likened to Lionel Messi by some in Brazil the past couple of years. That may be a touch generous, but he was perhaps the form player domestically.
No one believes Kaká is still the player he was four or five years ago. But his experience surely would have been advantageous on a squad so full of young faces. Even as a mere squad player, he would have spread calm and confidence on a side that lacked both this summer.
Jack Lang writes about football (mainly Brazilian) for a number of publications. You can find links to all his articles on his blog, Snap, Kaká and Pop!.