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Real Madrid's Casemiro in line for Brazil start

Casemiro received a boost to his first-team chances at Copa America after Brazil coach Dunga selected the Champions League-winner in his starting XI during Wednesday’s training session in Los Angeles.

The Real Madrid midfielder has been in fine form for the Spanish giants during the second half of the season and earned global plaudits for his performance at San Siro on Saturday.

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He appeared to be behind both Luiz Gustavo and Elias in the pecking order but replaced Luiz Gustavo in the starting line-up at practice.

Casemiro took the holding midfield role in a 4-1-4-1 formation of outfield players that lined up: Dani Alves, Gil, Miranda, Filipe Luis; Casemiro; Willian, Elias, Renato Augusto, Coutinho; Jonas.

The feeling amongst the local media is that Dunga believes Casemiro offers a better range of passing than the industrious Luis Gustavo can provide.

Luiz Gustavo has been arguably Brazil’s most consistent performer dating back to Confederations Cup 2013.

However, the Wolfsburg man was withdrawn at half-time of the Selecao’s Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour victory over Panama on Sunday as, for the second period, Dunga surprisingly fielded a Brazil team that did not include a single specialist defensive midfielder.

Casemiro and Atletico Madrid defender Filipe Luis were training with the squad for the first time this month as their participation in the Champions League final delayed their arrivals in USA until Tuesday.

Sao Paulo playmaker Ganso was added to the squad on Wednesday, replacing the injured Kaka, as the pragmatic Dunga unexpectedly seeks to add more midfield elaboration to his side.

Renato Augusto’s emergence has brought some much-needed creativity to the centre of the pitch and Ganso’s arrival adds yet more guile to a squad that already includes Santos midfielder Lucas Lima.

Unexpectedly, Dunga appears to be taking steps to buck the trend in Brazilian football which has generally seen two holding midfielders become a prerequisite in the national team for the past three decades.