Luiz Felipe Scolari will name his squad for March’s Brasil Global Tour friendly with South Africa on February 11 – his last before deciding on his final 23-man group for the World Cup. And with those who accompanied him in North America in November are desperate to retain their places.
Julio Cesar was once again missing from the QPR line-up as his side drew 3-3 at home to Burnley. The 34-year-old has made only one appearance for the English club this season and, despite Felipao’s assurances that his place in the squad is secure, the lack of game time will surely have him fearing for his starting berth at the World Cup.
His current rival for the jersey, Atletico Mineiro’s Victor, had a much busier week, appearing twice for O Galo as they began their defence of the Campeonato Mineiro. The 31-year-old kept a clean sheet in a goalless draw with Minas before making a ‘miracle’ save on Sunday, leaping up from the turf to block a ferocious shot from point-blank range as his side saw off Nacional 2-1. Jo grabbed both goals – first equalising with a flying header before an expertly placed chip sealed all three points.
In France, captain Thiago Silva and Maxwell helped PSG to a 2-0 victory over Bordeaux that extended their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to five points. Team-mate Marquinhos was an unused substitute as he sat out for former Selecao star Alex.
There was less joy for Dani Alves as Barcelona went down 3-2 at home to Valencia, ending a 25-game league winning streak at the Camp Nou to leave them three points behind Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.
Neymar has missed Barcelona’s previous five matches with an ankle knock sustained on January 16 against Getafe but returned to training this week and is expected to return to the squad in 7-14 days.
Maicon played the 11 minutes of Roma’s clash with Parma before the game was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch in the Italian capital. Marcelo was left frustrated after he could only help Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao.
Sunday brought a much more positive result for Dante as he headed his first goal of the season in Bayern Munich’s 5-0 thrashing of Frankfurt. Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, Luiz Gustavo was unable to prevent his Wolfsburg side going down 2-1 to Schalke.
David Luiz, Ramires, Oscar and Willian are all set to play on Monday night for Chelsea’s crunch trip to Manchester City while Lucas Leiva isn’t expected to return to the Liverpool side for another two months after suffering knee ligament injury. Paulinho was the star of the show for Spurs as he saved a point on his return to the Tottenham side after injury by slamming home a spectacular equaliser in their 1-1 draw with Hull City.
Hernanes wasn’t yet available after making a €20 million switch from Lazio to Inter on deadline day. Bernard helped Shakhtar to a 2-1 friendly victory over Zenit. Hulk had to settle for a place on the bench in that match but returned to the starting lineup on Sunday to score a fabulous long-range effort in Zenit's 2-0 victory over CSKA. Robinho featured for 75 minutes for Milan but couldn’t stop Clarence Seedorf’s side stumbling to a 1-1 draw at home to Torino.