Liverpool's Phillipe Coutinho and Lucas Leiva fail to make Brazil's World Cup squad
Published 07/05/2014 | 16:05
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari admitted it was the defence that caused him the biggest headaches as he finalised his squad for this summer's World Cup assault.
Scolari unveiled his 23-man squad for the tournament on Wednesday and among those to miss out were veteran playmakers Kaka and Ronaldinho.
Liverpool midfielders Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Leiva, Sao Paulo's on-loan Corinthians forward Alexandre Pato and Paris St Germain winger Lucas Moura were also overlooked, but it was at the back that Scolari had the toughest decisions.
Several defenders were in contention for a place, but in the end Napoli centre-back Henrique - who played under Scolari at Palmeiras - won the spot, with the likes of Dede, Marquinhos and Miranda missing out.
"I had discussions with all my team to know their opinion," said Scolari.
"We had to study that until the last minute, because we had some details to consider. And we finally chose Henrique. I trust in him and I like his football very much."
A delighted Henrique described his inclusion in the squad as a dream come true for him and the highlight of his career to date.
The 27-year-old said: "This is the greatest time of my career, no doubt about it.
"I'm thrilled; representing your country in a World Cup, it's the dream for any player. Even more so playing it in your own land."
Among those included in the squad are Barcelona star Neymar, Zenit St Petersburg forward Hulk and Paris St Germain defender Thiago Silva, with Scolari keeping faith with most of the players who triumphed at last year's Confederations Cup on home soil.
There were also six England-based players in the party, with Chelsea quartet David Luiz, Oscar, Willian and Ramires, Manchester City's Fernandinho and Tottenham's Paulinho all called up.
"Some of them already knew I would include them in the list, because I had told them when I was in Europe. I wanted to clear up any doubts for them. I would go to hell with them. They created the group we have now, which is spectacular," said Scolari, who preferred not to discuss what his future might hold after the World Cup.
"I haven't said anything about staying if we win or leaving if we lose. What is important now is to organise the team and win the World Cup. That's my responsibility. I only want to think about the World Cup. About winning the World Cup."
The Selecao open their Group A campaign against Croatia in Sao Paulo on June 12, before further pool games against Mexico and Cameroon.
If Brazil go all the way this summer they would extend their record number of World Cup triumphs to six, and claim the title for the first time on home soil having missed out in 1950.
Captain Thiago Silva knows what it would mean to lift the trophy in front of their own fans and hopes the supporters can play their part.
He said: "I know it's a big responsibility, and I'm prepared for the challenge. It's an honour for me to wear the armband and represent the national team in a World Cup in my own country."
He added: "With the massive support of our people we will be even stronger as we chase our targets. We're very confident in this team, but the 12th player, the Brazilian fans, will be extremely important in our battles for the cup."
Brazil World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Júlio César (Toronto FC), Jéfferson (Botafogo), Victor (Grêmio)
Defenders: Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (Internazionale), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Maxwell (Paris Saint-Germain), David Luiz (Chelsea), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), Dante (Bayern Munich), Henrique (Napoli)
Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Paulinho (Tottenham), Ramires (Chelsea), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Oscar (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea), Hernanes (Internazionale), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Forwards: Fred (Fluminense), Neymar (Barcelona), Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg), Jô (Atlético Mineiro)