Brazil, as the host country, will play the first game in this summer’s World Cup, so it seems only fitting that on Wednesday it was also among the first countries to announce its 23-man roster for the tournament.
Not that any of the players Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari selected were a surprise. Among them were Toronto FC keeper Julio Cesar; defenders David Luiz (Chelsea), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain) and Dani Alves (Barcelona); Chelsea midfielder teammates Oscar, Ramires and Willian; and forwards Fred (Fluminese), Hulk (Zenit St. Petersburg) and Neymar (Barcelona).
Among the omissions were three former world players of the year in Kaka, Robinho and Ronaldinho, all of whom are well past their prime, as well as 21-year-old Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho and Manchester United’s Rafael Pereira da Silva, a 23-year-old right back.
Now comes the hard part for Scolari: convincing Brazilians that this team is worth the $11-billion investment the country made in the World Cup.
"Whether you disagree on a few players won't matter,” the coach said. “I ask all Brazilians to support the squad no matter who the names are."
The 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)