Rio de Janeiro: Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari on Tuesday will announce a 23-man squad for next month`s FIFA Confederations Cup.
Until now, media has largely focused on whether the list will include Ronaldinho or Kaka or if Scolari will backtrack on his claim there is only room for one by picking both. But while the battle between two ageing stars has grabbed the headlines, there are other, perhaps more pressing, issues facing the coach.
Chief among them is who from Brazil`s vast list of defensive midfielders will be picked, and if Scolari can continue to ignore a growing band of young forward-drifting playmakers.
Scolari has long held the notion that attacking midfielders are a luxury rather than a necessity. When Brazil won the World Cup during his first spell as national coach in 2002, the team`s foundation was built around Gilberto Silva and Kleberson, at the time little-known defensive midfielders playing their trade in Brazil`s national league.
The 64-year-old has given every indication he is again looking to include at least two holding midfielders to sit in front of a back four in the Confederations Cup.
"This idea of having goal-scoring central midfielders sounds really nice to the media, but not for the coach. When you have full-backs like Daniel Alves and Marcelo you need to have protection," Scolari said last month.
During Brazil`s recent friendlies, Scolari has experimented with Corinthians` pair Paulinho and Ralf, Bayern Munich`s Luiz Gustavo, Gremio`s Fernando and Fluminense`s Jean in the defensive midfield role. Each appear to be vying for a spot alongside Chelsea`s Ramires, whose Blues teammate David Luiz could also play in central midfield if not in defence.
While attack-minded midfielders are not as abundant, Scolari is certain to call up Hernanes (Lazio), Oscar (Chelsea) and Lucas (Paris Saint-Germain).
There are also a couple of bolters who have pressed late claims for a berth. Among them is 20-year-old Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho. The 20-year-old former Vasco da Gama playmaker has been a revelation since joining Liverpool from Inter Milan in January, winning the club`s player of the month award in March and April.
Another option is Atletico Mineiro`s Bernard, who has reportedly attracted the interest of Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund.
Doubts surround who will partner Thiago Silva at the heart of defence. If Luiz plays in midfield, the position could go to Bayern Munich`s Dante, Rever (Atletico Mineiro) or Dede (Cruzeiro).
Scolari has indicated that Fluminense`s Fred will be his first-choice target man to play just in front of Neymar with Hulk also expected to be included in the squad. Alexandre Pato and Leandro Damiao are other centre-forward options but have hardly made compelling claims for selection.
Queens Park Rangers` Julio Cesar is set to be first-choice in goal and will be backed up by either Fluminense`s Diego Cavalieri or Botafogo`s Jefferson.