Over the last decade Brazil have possessed an abundance of talented players, like no other nation in the world. The country continues to produce world-class players and this is reflected by the achievements of the Selecao. After the disappointment of the 2006 World Cup, in which Brazil were surprisingly eliminated in the quarter-finals by France, Dunga was hired as their new boss and the 1994 World Cup winning captain made drastic changes to the side, by bringing in fresh meat and overlooking accomplished superstars like Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Rivaldo and Cafu.
Although all of the above players will remain in the Brazilian history books for eternity, Dunga's new way of thinking has been of great benefit to the national team, and after a relatively slow start they have returned to being the strongest team in the world.
Gregory Sica selects his best Brazil XI from the past decade.
Marcos – (1999-2005)
Marcos will always be remembered for being Brazil's first-choice goalkeeper as they lifted their fifth World Cup in 2002. The goalkeeper kept four clean sheets in seven matches, but lost his place in the team after the tournament. Although he was recalled to the Selecao for the 2005 Confederations Cup, he only made one appearance, and in October 2006 he announced his international retirement. One of few players to do such a thing, Marcos has remained loyal to Palmeiras throughout his entire career, even if he had attracted the attention of several top European clubs, including Arsenal.
Maicon – (2003- )
Only since the appointment of Dunga has Maicon cemented his position as the first-choice right-back of the Brazilian national team. Maicon is arguably the best player in his position in the world right now, and he has demonstrated this both with Brazil and Inter Milan. Ever since Cafu's national team retirement in 2006 Brazil have been looking for his replacement and they have now found not just one, but two who are worthy. Maicon is solid with his marking and is particularly dangerous when moving forward to attack, and has been impressive enough to edge Dani Alves as the starting right-back.
Lucio – (2000- )
The captain is an irreplaceable figure in the Brazil defense, and his strength and determination have been of great benefit to the Selecao. During the 2002 World Cup he played all 630 minutes of the tournament as Brazil won the title. Four years later he featured for Brazil as they were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Lucio set a FIFA record by not committing a single foul in 386 minutes of the tournament. More recently the defender helped Brazil win the Confederations Cup last month, by scoring a header in the 3-2 victory over the United States in the final.
Edmilson – (2000-2007)
Brazil have not been blessed with too many top class defenders this decade, and it is for this reason that Edmilson makes it into the line-up. A cultured defender/midfielder for Barcelona, Edmilson played his part in the 2002 World Cup triumph, playing in the center of a back-three and scoring an excellent goal along the way against Costa Rica. Edmilson preferred attacking to defending, despite his position, but when fit and on-form he was nevertheless a very under-rated player.
Roberto Carlos – (1992-2006)
Recognised around the entire globe for his trademark free-kicks, with perhaps the greatest being a spectacular 35-meter swerving effort that fooled French goalkeeper Fabian Barthez when playing for his Brazil in the Tournoi de France in 1997, Roberto Carlos is a legend in his own right. Since making his national team debut in 1992, the former Real Madrid and Inter Milan left-back found wide success with the Selecao. After finishing as a runner-up to France in the 1998 World Cup he played a key role as Brazil lifted the 2002 World Cup. As well as this, with Brazil he claimed two Copa America titles and the Confederations Cup. But after the elimination to France in the 2006 World Cup, Roberto Carlos announced his international retirement.
Cafu – (1990-2006 )
Cafu will go down in history as one of the greatest full backs of all time, and certainly the best right wing back of his generation. The former Sao Paulo, Roma and Milan star appeared in four World Cups, lifting the trophy twice in 1994 and 2002, the latter as captain in South Korea & Japan. The stereotypical Brazilian fullback who would attack at will down the flank, Cafu was blessed with everlasting stamina, great technical ability, and a superb cross. He also had great leadership qualities, and will forever be remembered as one of the fairest players in the game, someone who always played with a smile on his face, win or lose. With 142 caps, Cafu is Brazil's highest appearance maker.
Gilberto Silva – (2001- )
Despite his low-profile, Gilberto Silva has become an irreplaceable figure in the Brazilian national team. Despite being relatively unknown before the 2002 World Cup, the defensive midfielder earned himself a place in the team and performed at a very high level as Brazil won the tournament for a fifth time. Often Gilberto's work goes unnoticed, but it has been of great importance for the success of the side. Gilberto is often overshadowed by Brazil's more famous players, but he is a very reliable player, and rarely loses his position in the team. With the arrival of Dunga, Gilberto has continued to be an important member, even if he plays his club football in Greece with Panathinaikos.
Kaka – (2002- )
One of the most gifted players to have ever worn the prized yellow and green shirt of the Selecao, Kaka has been very consistent since becoming an integral part of the Brazilian national team. Although he was part of the Brazil squad that won the 2002 World Cup, Kaka was a bench player and only played 25 minutes. In his official debut as a starter in a World Cup, four years later, Kaka scored a brilliant goal to give his side a 1-0 victory over Croatia. But even if he was one of Brazil's best players, his team bowed out at the quarter-final stage of the tournament. The FIFA World Player of the Year for 2007 was voted the best player of Brazil's triumphant Confederations Cup campaign of 2009, having scored twice in Brazil's opener against Egypt. His recent transfer to Real Madrid is a reward for all the hard work he has put in over the years.
Rivaldo – (1993-2003)
Out of the media spotlight for several years now, but when in his prime Rivaldo was one of the most exciting players on the planet. The former Barcelona, AC Milan and Deportivo La Coruna superstar made 74 appearances for Brazil between 1993–2003 in which he scored 34 goals. During this time he became one of the most important players of the side and he won a number of titles including the 2002 World Cup, the Copa America and the Confederations Cup. Rivaldo is well-known for his bicycle kicks, having scored a number of incredible goals in this manner. But after helping Brazil to their fifth World Cup title, Rivaldo decided to move to Olympiacos of Greece, and although he won three league championships and two Greek Cups with the side, his national team days were now well and truly over.
Ronaldinho – (1999- )
Ronaldinho's national team career has been somewhat of a roller coaster ride. He earned his first cap for Brazil in 1999 and went on to become an essential player of the squad. He made a telling contribution for the national team, helping them win several titles including the World Cup, the Copa America and the Confederations Cup. With his club side Barcelona he was equally impressive, helping them to two successive Spanish titles, the UEFA Champions League, and two Spanish Super Cups. But after a highly disappointing 2006 World Cup Ronaldinho has seemed to lose his touch. Nowadays he has little influence on matches, and his trickery is nowhere to be seen any more. Due to this he has lost his place with Brazil and AC Milan. Even so, everyone is awaiting the revival of the superstar.
Ronaldo – (1994- )
One of the greatest strikers to have ever graced a football field, Ronaldo will remain in the history books for eternity. The three-time FIFA World Player of the Year is a living legend, and although he won several titles during a distinguished career in Europe, his greatest achievements came with his national team. With Brazil he won several titles, including the World Cup twice, the Copa America twice, and the Confederations Cup. After recovering from a serious knee injury, Ronaldo starred as Brazil won their fifth World Cup in 2002. He won the Golden Shoe for finishing as the highest scorer of the tournament with eight goals, including two goals in the final against Germany.
Although Brazil were eliminated at the quarter-final stage of the following World Cup in Germany, Ronaldo found the back of the net three times to become the highest scorer in the history of the World Cup with fifteen goals. But since then, and with the appointment of Dunga, Ronaldo hasn't appeared for the national team again. However, since agreeing to return to Brazilian football with Corinthians last December, Ronaldo has been in sensational form (he recently scored a hat-trick against Fluminense), and it won't be any surprise if he makes the squad for the World Cup in South Africa next year.
Maicon - Lucio - Edmilson - Roberto Carlos
Maicon - Lucio - Edmilson - Roberto Carlos
Cafu - Gilberto Silva - Kaka - Rivaldo
Gregory Sica, Goal.com
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