Napoli defender Henrique was the only surprise inclusion when Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari named the hosts’ provisional 23-man squad for the World Cup finals yesterday.
The squad, which will be aiming to win the title for a record sixth time, features Barcelona striker Neymar and will be captained by Paris St Germain defender Thiago Silva.
There is no place for AC Milan playmaker Kaka or Atletico Mineiro forward Ronaldinho. Liverpool midfielders Philipps Coutinho and Lucas Leiva, Sao Paulo’s on-loan Corinthians forward Alexandre Pato and Paris St Germain winger Lucas Moura were also overlooked.
Henrique, who has four caps for Brazil but worked under Scolari at Palmeiras, won out over Atletico Madrid’s in-form defender Miranda and PSG youngster Marquinhos for the spot as fourth central defender.
Scolari admitted the defensive choices where the hardest for him and his backroom staff.
“We had our debates, and why this or why that, and we decided for the fourth defender which is Henrique,” Scolari said. “I trust him, I like the way he plays.”
Among the other dilemmas, Scolari opted for Atletico Mineiro’s Victor as the third goalkeeper, and chose Inter Milan’s Hernanes over midfield rivals such as Liverpool’s Leiva and Coutinho. Maxwell and Maicon were picked as the reserve full-backs, edging out Rafinha and Filipe Luis.
Only five players return from Brazil’s ill-fated World Cup campaign in South Africa in 2010, when Dunga’s team were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by the Netherlands.
First-choice goalkeeper Julio Cesar, defenders Daniel Alves and Thiago Silva, and midfielder Ramires all made the cut, as did Fred, the striker who played in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.