Commentary

Brazil's Copa Centenario hopes take a hit

Another day and another player scratched from the Copa Centenario. And this is a big one: Bayern Munich midfielder Douglas Costa out due to a left thigh injury. His replacement: Orlando City's Kaka. That's great news for tournament organizers and MLS, which will have one of its biggest stars in the tournament. But Costa's exit is another blow for Coach Dunga, who will already be without Brazil's best player, Neymar.

Brazil's hosting of the Rio Olympics has complicated Dunga's task as he juggles priorities. Brazil wanted Neymar for both the Copa Centenario and Olympics. Neymar's club team, Barcelona, didn't need to release him for the Olympics -- not a senior FIFA competition -- so Brazil had to choose. And it chose the Olympics -- the one major soccer competition it has not won.

Douglas Costa was expected to fill Neymar's role as Brazil's go-to player even if he does not play the same position. The 25-year-old winger was instrumental, however, in Bayern Munich winning the German league and cup double and reaching the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League in his first season since arriving from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Two years after its humiliation at the 2014 World Cup -- 7-1 loss to Germany in the semifinals, 3-0 loss to the Netherlands in the third-place game -- Brazil is still trying to find its way and can't afford to lose a player like Douglas Costa.

Dunga has discarded most of the team that competed in the 2014 World Cup -- and many of the players he began the new cycle with. Gone are the likes of veterans David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Robinho, all retained or brought back for the 2015 Copa America, and Roberto Firmino and Danilo, seeming Dunga favorites from the new guard.

Without the likes of David Luiz, Thiago Silva and Real Madrid's Marcelo, the Brazil defense was always going to be a question mark. But Douglas Costa's injury puts a renewed spotlight on doubts about how the Brazil attack will operate without Neymar. Dunga still has Phillipe Coutinho (Liverpool) and Lucas Lima (Santos) in a midfield otherwise heavy on workhorses like Willian, Luiz Gustavo and Casemiro.

Tied for sixth in World Cup 2018 qualifying with just two wins in six games, Brazil remains very much a work in progress.

BRAZIL
GOALKEEPERS (3):
Alisson (Internacional, BRA), Diego Alves (Valencia, ESP), Ederson (Benfica, POR).
DEFENDERS (8):
Dani Alves (Barcelona, ESP), Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo, BRA), Fabinho (Monaco, FRA), Gil (Shandong Luneng, CHN), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid, ESP), Marquinhos (Paris SG, FRA), Miranda (Inter Milan, ITA), Douglas (Atletico Mineiro, BRA).
MIDFIELDERS (9):
Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan, CHN), Casemiro (Real Madrid, ESP), Kaka (Orlando City), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool, ENG), Elias (Corinthians, BRA), Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg, GER), Lucas Lima (Santos, BRA), Rafinha (Barcelona, ESP), Willian (Chelsea, ENG).
FORWARDS (3):
Gabriel (Santos, BRA), Hulk (Zenit St. Petersburg, RUS), Jonas (Benfica, POR).

2 comments about "Brazil's Copa Centenario hopes take a hit".
  1. Miguel Aviles, May 27, 2016 at 2:10 p.m.

    This really is a weak Brazil team. Then again take away players the caliber of Neymar, Douglas Costa, Marcelo and Thiago Silva, among the very best in the world at their respective positions, and any team would suffer.

    Dunga will still have Brazil well organized defensively but Hulk and Jonas are going to have to score some goals if they are to have success in this Copa America. A semifinal appearance would I think be considered a successful tournament for this group but I doubt they will get even that far.

  2. Miguel Aviles, June 1, 2016 at 8:55 p.m.

    And now Kaka is out injured! Paulo Henrique Ganso is to replace him. A much younger playmaking midfielder but one who is pretty slow.

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