Fernando Diniz will have important absences in the Brazilian team for the matches against Colombia and the world champion Argentinaby 2026 World Cup Qualifiers. The interim commander will not be able to count on goalkeeper Ederson, midfielder Casemiro and striker Richarlison, but the main absence will be Neymar, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee in the 2-0 defeat to Uruguay in Montevideo, in the last FIFA Data. The player recently underwent surgery and is expected to be sidelined for around ten months.
“Being without Neymar is always a loss for Brazilian football and for football as a whole. I’ve said it more than once: he’s a football genius, one of the greatest players in history,” said Diniz, in press conference after the call-up of the Brazilian team.
Without Neymar, Diniz will be available in the attacking sector Vini Jr. (Real Madrid), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal), Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal) and Raphinha (Barcelona), in addition to newcomers Endrick (Palmeiras), João Pedro (Brighton), Pepê (Porto) and Paulinho (Atlético-MG). The different styles of the forwards called up allow us to think of different ways to form the team.
The tendency is for Diniz to keep the team playing 4-3-3 (or 4-2-3-1, for the most aficionados) — the formation chosen by Tite when winning the 2019 Copa América, without Neymar. The scheme was used by the Flu coach in all the matches in which he was in charge of the national team, with two midfielders and Neymar at the tip of the pyramid in midfield. Against Venezuela and Uruguay, the attacking trio was formed by Rodrygo, Gabriel Jesus and Vini Jr. In previous matches, against Bolivia and Peru, the attackers were Raphinha, Richarlison and Rodrygo.
The most likely is that Rodrygo will be reassigned to Neymar’s position and Raphinha will regain his place on the right wing. “Rodrygo is in fact a possibility (of replacement), because if you look at the way he plays, more on the side, he’s close to Neymar. It’s a possibility, but nothing has been defined”, commented Diniz. Another option is to keep Rodrygo open and just replace Neymar with Raphael Veiga, from Palmeiras, the only attacking midfielder called up by Fernando Diniz. It is worth mentioning that, despite being with the group, Gabriel Jesus is recovering from injury and Endrick could be an option as a center forward.
ANDRÉ REFERENCE AND NEWS IN THE ENVIRONMENT
A key player in Diniz’s scheme at Fluminense, midfielder André has a chance to start as a starter due to the absence of Casemiro, who has a thigh injury. The 22-year-old player pleases the coach with his quality with the ball at his feet and could be played ahead of the defenders, in the 4-1-4-1 formation.. In this case, Bruno Guimarães would be one of the starting midfielders, with Joelinton and Douglas Luiz fighting for the other spot, and Rodrygo and Vini Jr. open.
Carlo Ancelotti does not confirm, but the CBF guarantees that the Italian will be the coach of the Brazilian team in July 2024. The Real Madrid coach had to reinvent the way the team played after Benzema’s departure to Al-ittihad, from Saudi Arabia . He gave up the 4-3-3 to create a scheme with a diamond in midfield, with the revelation Bellingham more advanced, and removing Rodrygo and Vini Jr. from the wings to a more centralized position. If he wishes to keep the Brazilian duo playing for the national team in the same way they are playing for Real, Diniz can opt for Bruno Guimarães to play more advanced, with the midfield reinforced by André, Douglas Luiz and Joelinton. Another option is to place Rodrygo as an attacking midfielder, pulling Guimarães back, and placing Gabriel Jesus, Endrick or Paulinho, who plays a similar role at Atlético-MG, in front.
FLU MODE WITH FOUR ATTACKERS
The range of players with technical quality in the Brazilian team would also allow Fernando Diniz to assemble a team with four attackers. He played this way in decisive moments of the season with Fluminense, such as in the 2-1 victory over Internacional, at Beira-Rio, in the second leg of the Libertadores semi-final. The coach selected an attack with Arias, Cano, John Kennedy and Keno, playing only André and Ganso in midfield. In the Brazilian team, the most likely options up front would be Raphinha, Rodrygo, Jesus (Endrick or Paulinho) and Vini Jr, with Bruno Guimarães and trusted man André.
The Brazilian team faces Colombia this Thursday, in Barranquilla, at 9 pm (Brasília time), and faces Messi’s Argentina on Tuesday, at 9:30 pm, at Maracanã. Brazil is in third place in the Qualifiers, with seven points, behind Uruguay, with the same score, and Argentina, with 12.