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[World Cup] Brazil could revert to formation from 2002

TERESOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) ― Luiz Felipe Scolari is contemplating adding another central defender to Brazil’s lineup against Colombia in the World Cup quarterfinals on Friday, going back to the formation that earned his team the 2002 title.

The Brazil coach has to make at least one change because midfielder Luiz Gustavo is suspended, and says he has a couple of options to replace him.

“I have two options, either playing the same way we have been playing, just adding another player in the same sector, or I can change the entire scheme,” Scolari said. 
Brazil’s head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari (right) and David Luiz celebrate their win over Chile in the Round of 16. (Xinhua-Yonhap)
Brazil’s head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari (right) and David Luiz celebrate their win over Chile in the Round of 16. (Xinhua-Yonhap)

“Then I can play like I played in the 2002 World Cup, with three central defenders, freeing up the fullbacks.”

Brazil played poorly in a second-round match against Chile that went to a penalty shootout last week, narrowly escaped elimination. The team had already struggled in the group stage, with its most convincing performance coming in a 4-1 win over already eliminated Cameroon.

Brazil currently plays in a 4-2-3-1 scheme, with two defensive midfielders protecting the defense. Scolari used a 3-5-2 system when it claimed its fifth World Cup title in 2002, with the fullbacks allowed to attack more often.

“We will see how it goes in the next few days before the match,” Scolari said. “We have to evaluate the condition of the players, see if there are any physical problems, if they can practice. We will see how the training sessions go and then we can make a decision.”

If Scolari keeps the current formation, he could replace Gustavo with Ramires, Hernanes or Paulinho, who was a starter in the first three matches before being replaced by Fernandinho. If he adds another defender, the likely replacements would be Dante or Henrique.

“We don’t know what the coach is going to do yet, but we know that Luiz has been playing well and he is very important for this team,” Brazil midfielder Ramires said. “The defenders are used to having him in the midfield and the team is more stable when he plays.”

Gustavo won’t play against Colombia because he received his second yellow card of the tournament after a hard tackle in the match against Chile.

Scolari will have all other players available. The Brazilian confederation said Neymar is recovering well from a right knee injury sustained against the Chileans and is practicing normally.
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