Brazil's Neymar (R) celebrates scoring on a penalty with teammates Leandro Damiao, Hulk and Marcelo (L-2nd R) during their international friendly soccer match against the U.S. in Landover, Maryland May 30, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT SOCCER))
The Confederations Cup is only weeks away and the teams are starting to announce their rosters and lineups for the tournament. Host nation Brazil was one of the first to make the announcement. Here is a preview of Brazil's lineup and an assessment of how they will do in the tournament.
Goalkeepers: Julio César (QPR), Jefferson (Botafogo) and Diego Cavalieri (Fluminense)
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Manager Felipe Scolari made no surprise announcements at the goalkeeper position. César likely enters the tournament as the team's top keeper despite a tough year with his club Queens Park Rangers. César started the team's three friendlies against European sides earlier this year but Jefferson and Cavalieri have split recent games against Bolivia and Chile. César has been Brazil's top goalie since the last World Cup and likely gets another chance to lead the charge.
Defenders: Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Jean (Fluminense), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Filipe Luis (Atlético Madrid) Thiago Silva (PSG), Réver (Atlético-MG), David Luiz (Chelsea) and Dante (Bayern Munich).
The team is loaded at the defense with David Luis and Marcelo being the youngster players. This veteran presence should provide the team with stability that will facilitate a free flowing game in the offensive half. Alves' effectiveness has been questionable over the years and he could be the wild card in this squad.
Midfielders: Fernando (Grêmio), Hernanes (Lazio), Luiz Gustavo (Bayern Munich), Paulinho (Corinthians), Jadson (São Paulo), Oscar (Chelsea) and Lucas Moura (PSG).
The midfield features a mix of young talent with more seasoned players. Chelsea's Oscar will likely be the creative genius in the midfield, but he will need to get support from such players Lucas Moura. The midfield might be the biggest question mark for Brazil as many feel that the inclusions of Ronaldinho and Kaka could have provided a greater creative spark for the team.
Forwards: Hulk (Zenit), Bernard (Atlético-MG), Leandro Damião (Internacional), Fred (Fluminense) and Neymar (Santos).
Brazil's forward group is its greatest strength and asset. Damião scored six goals at the Olympics last summer and should be primed for another breakout campaign. Hulk struggled in his first year in Russia, but he has been productive for Brazil in the past. Neymar is the face of the team and has a prime chance to shine in his first big International competition.
Brazil wound up in the toughest group of the competition. Many believe Italy will take down the other teams in the group stage, but the European nation's previous performances in this competition do not bode well for this season's predictions. The Mexican side is dangerous, but has been madly inconsistent in its World Cup qualifiers. Japan has been terrific in its qualifiers, but has not faced the level of competition that Group B will pose. Brazil could finish anywhere from fourth to first in this group depending on the play of other sides.
Prediction: Brazil wins Group A with two wins and one draw.