The Best Brazil Lineup Right Now
Despite Dunga’s recent use of some different formations, for many years now, Brazil has favored the 4-2-3-1 formation with two defensive midfielders behind a line of three attacking midfielders who themselves are behind a center forward.
Let’s look at the best Brazil lineup starting with the goalkeeper.
Now back from injury, Diego Alves is the best Brazilian goalkeeper around, and he showed this over the weekend against Barcelona and their attacking trident of Lionel Messi, Luís Suárez, and Neymar. Brazil has several excellent goalkeepers, but Diego Alves is widely-regarded as the best.
Daniel Alves is still the best Brazilian right back, and he proved this when he saved Brazil over Paraguay in the most recent World Cup qualifier when he surged into the penalty box, executed a stepover with his right foot, went left, and curled in a goal with his weaker left foot. That goal saved the draw for Brazil in a game that they couldn’t lose.
That being said, Danilo is a force of nature at Real Madrid, despite often being favored behind Dani Carvajal. Danilo is so talented that he can cut inside onto his weaker left foot and crush shots into the goal from outside of the box. Danilo is even two-footed enough to have played left back for Real Madrid.
Along with Danilo, Bruno Peres of Torino deserves mention as well. The Torino outside back storms the flank like no other, and he’s capable of burning the entire opposition on full-field individual dribbling runs. Like Daniel Alves and Danilo, Bruno Peres is rather two-footed.
For Brazil’s two center backs, Thiago Silva and Marquinhos must be considered the two starters. Thiago Silva has been blackballed by Dunga, but Thiago Silva is still considered the best defender in the world. He is called The Monster for a reason.
Marquinhos is something of a prodigy. He’s the young center back that all of the big clubs want as he combines electric pace with excellent technique and defending. Marquinhos is somewhat comparable to the French defender Raphaël Varane, but Varane is better. Unlike David Luiz, Marquinhos doesn’t have a reputation for ill-advised tackles or fouls.
David Luiz is often a convenient scapegoat for Brazilian fans, but David Luiz is an excellent center back in his own right.
Marcelo is the best Brazilian left back, but Alex Sandro of Juventus is coming. In recent years, Marcelo has vastly improved his defending and his right foot. Some people favor Filipe Luís over Marcelo, but Marcelo is a much much impactful player with better skill and attacking play. Marcelo is a hugely disruptive force to opposing teams, and he instantly puts the opposition on their heels and throws them into disarray. You could say that Marcelo’s play opens up more holes and channels for the likes of Neymar to exploit.
Luiz Gustavo has been a reliable defensive midfielder for Brazil, but Casemiro of Real Madrid has been showing better club form with Real Madrid. Casemiro is also a better passer than Luiz Gustavo, and Brazil’s passing and possession have been well below its previous levels. A better ball-playing defensive midfielder can only help Brazil to not only keep possession but play more directly with balls played through and behind the defense.
To be Casemiro’s deputy as the Number 8 or box-to-box central midfielder, consider Allan of Napoli. Of all the Brazilian Number 8s, Allan has to be considered the best one right now. Allan play’s the position the way Brazil wants it to be played, and Allan has proven himself in Serie A. Allan combines ball-winning with forward runs into the attack, and this is precisely what Brazil requires.
In the line of three attacking midfielders in front of the defensive midfielders, there is plenty of competition such that there isn’t room for Felipe Anderson, Coutinho, and Lucas who are all nothing short of world-class attackers. Brazil has an embarrassment of riches at these attacking positions, so there can be no excuse for Brazil’s current slump or unimpressive form. Felipe Anderson, Coutinho, and Lucas were labelled surplus to requirements in the starting lineup, so that leaves the starters: Willian, Neymar, and Douglas Costa.
You could argue that Neymar is the second best player in the world, and that Willian is the best player in the English Premier League. Willian is definitely Chelsea’s best player, and he brings a complete attacking game where he can play centrally or out wide. Willian is world-class in his dribbling, speed, passing, and scoring ability, and on the opposite flank should be Douglas Costa who has been electrifying for Bayern Munich.
Douglas Costa needs to mesh better with Neymar, but Douglas Costa is a world-beater that is simply too good to not start for Brazil. His play can free Neymar up to score even more goals for Brazil. Neymar’s best position for Brazil is centrally where he controls the game more and sees more of the ball, but the left flank is arguably equally as effective of a spot for Neymar.
The striker or center forward spot for Brazil is a weak spot. Firmino has played well in that position for Liverpool where he has shown that he can be extremely active and get behind defenders. Firmino can score with both feet and his head, and of course Firmino combines well with skillful teammates. He may not be the stereotypical center forward, but he is a center forward just like Alexis Sánchez and Sergio Agüero are – even though those two are better.
Theoretically, Pato is supposed to be Brazil’s Number 9 by now. Pato, now with Chelsea, is healthy, and he deserves a shot playing as Brazil’s lone striker. If Pato starts seeing more club minutes, then he is undoubtedly Brazil’s best center forward.
Here is the Brazil lineup proposed above:
Goalkeeper- Diego Alves (Valencia)
Right Back- Daniel Alves (Barcelona)
Center Back- Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain)
Center Back- Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)
Left Back- Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Defensive Midfielder- Casemiro (Real Madrid)
Central Midfielder- Allan (Napoli)
Right Wing- Willian (Chelsea)
Number 10- Neymar (Barcelona)
Left Wing- Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich)
Striker- Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)