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Brazil: Dorival Junior’s daunting Seleção task begins at Wembley

Vinicius Junior Brazil

The last twelve months have been the worst in Brazil’s history.

After losing on penalties vs Croatia in the World Cup quarter-finals, Tite stepped down from his position as head coach which led to debate around who would be his replacement.

The Brazilian FA were keen on Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti.

Tim Vickery told The Copa Club he and his wife had begun to learn Portuguese and were keen on the idea of living in Rio de Janeiro.

Until then, U20 head coach Ramon Menezes was to take charge. However, embarrassing defeats to Morocco and Senegal meant fans were worried with the South American World Cup qualifiers around the corner.

Brazil were unrecognisable under Menezes - conceding four vs Senegal was unacceptable.

The decision was made to bring in Fluminense’s Fernando Diniz, who would continue his role at domestic level. Although he led Flu to their first ever Copa Libertadores title, his time with Seleção was short lived.

A draw vs Venezuela in Cuiaba before three consecutive defeats gave the Brazilian FA little choice but to look for an alternative solution once more.

Diniz, who revolutionised the modern game with his relationism, and positionless formation, worked wonders with Fluminense. However, with a limited number of training sessions with his largely European-based squad to implement such tactics almost set him up to fail from day one.

The reason Diniz was brought in was because the Brazilian FA believed he had a similar approach to the game as Ancelotti - many of whom did not agree with.

To make matters worse, the news soon broke no one wanted to hear. Ancelotti was not going to leave Real Madrid and instead chose to extend his contract with the Spanish club.

Plan B: Dorival Junior

Their next move was to appoint Dorival Junior as head coach, who left his role at São Paulo having led them to their first Copa do Brasil title.

Prior to his role with São Paulo, Junior had won the Libertadores and Copa do Brasil with Flamengo in 2022 - the club which is now managed by Tite.

And so Brazil appointed a man who may not have international experience as a coach, but has success in knockout football - perhaps a key reason with Copa America around the corner.

A return to a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 formation may help Brazil’s European stars settle compared to Diniz’s tactics, but there’s little time to get back on track on the pitch.

Junior’s first game in charge is a trip to Wembley vs England. An already difficult task has been made even more challenging with the sheer volume of injuries.

Both Alisson and Ederson are out injured, which has seen three new goalkeepers called up looking to win their first senior caps. Athletico PR’s Bento is the likely candidate to start between the sticks, with Inter Milan rumoured to be interested.

A host of injuries has seen numerous Brasileirão players called up. Although Brazilian fans are keen to see domestic players provided with an opportunity, it’s going to be a steep learning curve for whether or not Junior can make Brazil a success with a squad of this kind.

The midfield for the upcoming friendlies is a problem.

São Paulo’s Pablo Maia and Wolves’ João Gomes could earn their first caps, and although both have impressed domestically, it’s a far cry from the star-studded Brazilian midfield we’ve come to expect over the years.

However, it's certainly not all doom and gloom.

Fluminense’s André is likely to feature and continue to showcase to Europe why he won’t be playing in Brazil for much longer, while the return of West Ham’s Lucas Paqueta is very much needed, to add an attacking quality to the heart of the team which has been missing throughout the World Cup qualifiers.

Endrick's time to shine

The forward area looks to be Brazil’s main threat - and it’s an exciting one we are likely to see further down the line at domestic level, too.

Real Madrid pair Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo are likely to operate on either flank, with their future star striker Endrick leading the line.

Palmeiras’ 18-year-old scored 11 Brasileirão goals last term and carried his team into first place, and has already proven he’s ready for the spotlight. Those who are lucky enough to watch him at Wembley will no doubt be treated to glimpses of his exceptional talent.

At the other end of the pitch, Lucas Beraldo has settled into life in France with PSG since his summer move from São Paulo, having worked closely with Junior over the last 12 months. Beraldo’s performances have kept Nottingham Forest’s Murillo out of the squad - for now.

Junior will work with a squad against England and Spain a far cry from what it will look like in June at Copa America, but this is his chance to assess alternative options.

Yet with limited time to turn Brazil’s fortunes around, the 61-year-old has the difficult job to not only steady the ship but also produce positive performances and bring the team together - something the last three managers have failed to achieve.

Junior will feel honoured to lead Brazil out as head coach, but the pressure is firmly on to deliver - and quickly.


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