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Scolari formula to check Colombian striker Rodrigues


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Rio de Janeiro, July 3 (IANS) Luiz Felipe Scolari is renowned for keeping faith in the tried and tested. His preferred starting eleven during the World Cup has largely mirrored that of the team that won the Confederations Cup last year.

Now he is considering re-using another old formula for the Selecao's quarter-final against Colombia in Fortaleza Friday.

During training at the team's Granja Comary base Wednesday, Scolari experimented with Napoli center-back Henrique alongside David Luiz and Thiago Silva in the heart of a five-man defence.

He also replaced the struggling Dani Alves with Maicon at right-back.

The move gave Brazil the Christmas-tree formation that served Scolari so well during Brazil's triumphant 2002 World Cup campaign in Japan and South Korea.

Then, like now, the decision was based just as much on the resources at his disposal, or lack of them, as the need to quell the opposition's attacking threat.

In the case of Colombia, that threat is personified by James Rodrigues. The 22-year-old Monaco playmaker is the tournament's top scorer with five goals and is widely considered the World Cup's best player to date.

Any move to bolster the Selecao's backline would be an obvious attempt to choke the 22-year-old of space and supply.

But it would also be an admission that Scolari is not entirely happy with his team's defensive play.

The Selecao have only conceded three times in four matches but the last line has looked vulnerable with Alves seemingly unwilling, or unable, to track back after bombing forward.

The Barcelona defender has arguably been at fault for two of the goals conceded by Brazil. Opponents have clearly tried to exploit the Barcelona defender's penchant of straying by targeting the team's right channel.

The five-man defensive formation was only used at the end of Brail's training session Wednesday. But the mere fact that Scolari thought about it suggests that, at the very least, it could be his Plan B against Colombia.

The change would see Brazil dispose of a central striker, with Neymar being deployed as the so-called false nine.

Scolari's trusted target man Fred has scored just once this tournament and looks a shadow of the player that netted five goals during the Confederations Cup.

His back-up striker, Jo, is yet to score for Atletico Mineiro in Brazil's top-flight this year.

While Brazil's forward setup looks increasingly reliant on Neymar, Colombia have no such concerns.

Rodriguez has been the conductor of Jose Pekerman's attack, but has been ably assisted by Juan Cuadrado and Teofilo Gutierrez.

Then there is Juan Quintero. The 21-year-old was an unused substitute in Los Cafeteros' 2-0 victory over Uruguay last Saturday.

But Pekerman has said he wants his team to go on the offensive against Brazil and it would not surprise to see him hand a start to the Porto playmaker at the Arena Castelao.

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