Including the three prospects above, the full Olympic squad is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Rafael Cabral (Santos), Neto (Fiorentina).
Defenders: Marcelo (Real Madrid), Rafael (Manchester United), Danilo (Porto), Alex Sandro (Porto), Thiago Silva (PSG), Juan (Inter Milan), Bruno Uvini (Sao Paulo).
Midfielders: Romuo (Vasco da Gama), Ganso (Santos), Oscar (Internacional), Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur), Lucas (Sao Paulo).
Forwards: Neymar (Santos), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Leandro Damiao (Internacional), Hulk (Porto)
Featuring relatively unknown, young, inexperienced players, Menezes’ selection is an interesting blend of experienced, proven talents like Hulk, teamed with several of the exact opposite: Oscar of Internacional, for example. The squad, overall, is of real quality; only teams like Uruguay, Great Britain and Spain can be compared.
As mentioned previously, an Olympic victory for Menezes and his Seleção would be invaluable, a real milestone to pinpoint and signify progress for (well, part of) the national team that will take part in 2014. A triumphant flight home for the squad would help an unexplainable amount of Brazilians sleep easier for now, at least. A return to the attacking, flowing football Brazil are famous for would certainly be a relieving thought, too. After 2010, Dunga’s shocking, more defensive style of play left fans scarred, the team heading home early and the controversial coach’s own downfall, facing the sack as a result.
On 24th July 2010, Menezes took over to begin re-building from a low point, something unusual to the 5-time World Champions. Several friendlies duly followed, with players like Ronaldinho being overlooked and Neymar (who the former coach controversially left out of the World Cup), Lucas Moura and Ganso regularly featuring. Naturally, this Brazil side did not immediately begin to fulfill its potential; the matches that followed were capable of sending even the most avid football fans to sleep. The Copa America was far from promising, despite the Brazilians’ usual pre-tournament hype. Hopes for 2012 and 2014 were hardly given the expected, optimistic lift following the premature departure.
Recently, the performances from the endlessly scrutinized Brazil side have picked up: a 3-1 victory over Denmark, a 4-1 thrashing of the USA, and an enticing 4-3 defeat to Argentina in June suggest a large step has been taken since Dunga’s dark days, despite losing to the Argentines (due to an outrageous hat-trick from a certain Lionel Messi). With the Canarinho under 20s side winning the 2011 World Cup (their fifth), and the women’s team being fairly successful in their on right (they are the most successful South-American women’s national team), pressure is mounting for a replication of historic events; all eyes will be on Brazil this summer and, of course, in two years time.
Whether winning these tournaments is a real possibility will remain unclear until they begin to compete, as the Verde-Amarela have the potential to run away with international championships; however, they also have the ability to become the biggest flop of all the international squads and embarrass themselves, again. A new generation of superstars have brought renewed hope to an awaiting nation, and the preparation is steadily facing its conclusion. There is one intriguing question: can Brazil do it? All we can do, for now, is patiently wait for this chapter of a thrilling tale to unfold in what should be a breathtaking climax.
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