With the Olympic Games fast approaching, Brazil last week confirmed their 18 man squad that will be challenging for Gold. Here are 5 of the big name Brazilians you can expect to shine:
1. Thiago Silva – Chosen to captain this young Brazilian side as one of the over-aged players, Thiago Silva is regarded as one of the best centre-backs in the world. Signing for Milan in 2008, Silva helped his team win their first Serie A title in in 7 years in the 2009/10 season, and has also established himself as a regular in the senior Brazilian side. His consistent performances have led him to a big money move to PSG for a reported 42M Euros.
2. Lucas Moura – At only 19 years of age, the Sao Paulo starlet has intelligence beyond his years allowing him to play either on the wing or behind the main striker. In February last year, Lucas was involved in the Under-20 South American Championships where he scored a hat-trick in the final to help his team win the cup; his senior international debut followed shortly after. With several top European clubs linked with this young man, he will come at a hefty price with a reported buyout clause of 80M Euros.
3. Rafael da Silva – Having recently signed a new 4 year deal with club side Manchester United, it is evident this young Brazilian is quickly developing into an ever-reliable right back. Known for his dynamic pace and enthusiasm, Rafael has been able to keep Dani Alves out of the Olympic squad. At just 22, it seems likely that he can gain a place in the senior squad and thus push on to becoming a Brazilian regular over the next 10 years or so.
4. Hulk – named after ‘The Incredible Hulk’ he has scored a sensational 52 goals in 96 appearances for his club side Porto, meriting him the title of Primeira Liga player of the year for the past 2 seasons running. Turning 26 next week, Hulk was chosen as one of the over-aged players for the Olympics. Normally starting off on the right wing, he tends to drift in-field where he provides regular goals and assists for his team. It is for this reason he has constantly been linked with Chelsea, and you would have to think a move away from Porto is not too far away.
5. Neymar – much has been made of this incredible talent from Santos, and I believe the time has come for him display his abilities on the big stage. Compared to the likes of Messi and Pele, Neymar has already scored 9 goals in 18 appearances for Brazil. Often starting off as the main striker, he often drifts to the wings where he demonstrates a range of key attributes including explosive bursts of pace, close control dribbling as well as accurate finishing. More that just a footballer, Neymar is seen as one of the most marketable athletes in the world and you can ensure that if Brazil are to win Gold, he will have scored the majority of the goals to get them there.
As well as the above 5, Brazil have a number of stellar names in their squad and those unfortunate not to make the list include Pato, Leandro Damiao, Ganso, Oscar and Marcelo. With such a talented and versatile squad at their disposal, I find it difficult to look past Brazil for these Olympic Games.
Will Brazil win the Olympic football? Or do Spain or Great Britain have a chance?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald