I followed on TV the first call-up of Fernando Diniz, the interim coach of the Brazilian national team, for the team’s first games in the Qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, which will be in September against Bolivia (on the 8th) and Peru (on the 12th).
There was an expectation of inclusion or not in the list of attacking midfielder Lucas Paquetá, from West Ham, who, it was known earlier this Friday (18th), is being investigated in England due to the suspicion that people who are next bet on matches in which he played.
Diniz explained that he chose not to call up Paquetá, 25, Brazil’s starter in the 2022 Qatar Cup, to preserve the player while he finds himself involved in a possible scandal.
And who was chosen to occupy the vacancy of the excluded, correctly asked a fellow journalist who was in the CBF auditorium where Diniz announced the 23 summoned?
“You’re going to be left without that answer”, the coach said, making a mystery without any need.
Looking at the list, it doesn’t take a genius to deduce that the one who won an opportunity was striker Matheus Cunha, 24, from small Wolverhampton, from England.
Without ignoring Cunha’s football, which is a quality player, there were several much better alternatives, considering the moment – and right here in Brazil.
As much as Diniz can admire the football of the striker revealed by Coritiba and Olympic champion with the selection in Tokyo-2021, his phase is far from ideal.
Cunha’s 2022/2023 season was split between Atlético de Madrid and Wolves, and he had only flashes of good football. In 38 official games, he scored just two goals.
In comparison, how to call him up and leave him out, for example, restricting himself only to attackers who play in the Brazilian Championship, Pedro or Gabriel (Gabigol), from Flamengo, Vitor Roque, from Athletico-PR, and Marcos Leonardo, from Santos ?
Pedro, who was in the Qatar Cup, and Gabigol, both 26 years old, have been prominent names on the football scene for some time. The first has five goals in the Brazilian, and the second, four.
Don’t both work? How about younger, more talented people?
Cases of Vitor Roque, 18, eight goals in the Brazilian and already negotiated with Barcelona – he will go next season–, and Marcos Leonardo, 20, seven goals in the championship, which will possibly be acquired soon by some European club.
I did not mention as an option Tiquinho Soares, 32, from leader Botafogo, top scorer in the Brazilian Championship with 13 goals, because he is injured and will be out of action for a few weeks. If not, he should have a chance.
Mentioning this group, why did Diniz belong to Matheus Cunha? Soon he repeated more than once in the post-call interview that the criteria were technical.
Balela. The issue is obviously political.
Pedro, Gabigol, Vitor Roque and Marcos Leonardo, if summoned, would not be able to be available, in their best conditions, to play for their clubs in the Brazilian on September 13, a Wednesday.
That’s because Brazil will face Peru on the 12th, in Lima, in a match that starts at 11 pm, Brasilia time.
Serving the national team is exhausting, the plane trip is exhausting, the player ideally needs more recovery time before going to the field, even if he did not participate in the game the day before.
Aggravating factor: Diniz is coach of Fluminense, concurrently with his position in the national team, which hired him for one year, until the expected arrival of Italian Carlo Ancelotti, from Real Madrid.
Fluminense competes in the Brazilian with 19 other clubs, including Flamengo, Athletico-PR and Santos. In the case of Flamengo, the situation gets worse, since it is Fluminense’s archrival.
Can you imagine the screeching that the presence of Pedro or Gabigol in the summons would provoke among Flamengo supporters? Because Diniz would not leave them in ideal conditions to play for Flamengo on the 13th.
On that date, the team with the biggest crowd in Brazil receives Athletico-PR, from Vitor Roque. That is, the main strikers of the rivals rubro-negros will not cease to be available for this confrontation because of the Brazilian selection.
Ah!, but Diniz called goalkeeper Bento, 24, who is from Athletico-PR. Yes, and to avoid any confusion it could have been avoided, since he will only be third in position, behind Alisson and Ederson.
But Athletico-PR’s complaint tends to be milder, precisely because of Bento’s current condition, who will only be there to train and watch a more experienced colleague play.
The goalkeeper, due to the characteristics of the function, has less wear and tear than the line athletes, and Bento can be used in the Brazilian without much drama.
Bento’s situation aside, how to justify the call-ups of midfielder Raphael Veiga, from Palmeiras, and the Fluminense duo Nino (defender) and André (midfielder)?
In relation to Veiga, simple: Palmeiras does not play on the 13th, only on the 15th (Friday).
Regarding Nino and André, the calendar influences, since Fluminense will play on the 16th (Saturday), four days after Brazil’s match against the Peruvians. Table stuff.
However, it is certain that Diniz took the opportunity to be on good terms with players he lives with on a daily basis. Not so much in relation to André, who should really be called for what he’s been playing.
Olympic champion Nino, however… He has a very good championship, and I do not vehemently question his presence, but, merit for merit, who should have been listed is Adryelson, defender from Botafogo, who will also only play on the 16th.
Diniz, in fact, does not even need to justify his choice. You can decree: “I like this one better, and that’s it”.
But it sounds bad that the undisputed leader of the Brazilian doesn’t have a single player called up –and given that Adryelson is deserving and currently at a similar level to Nino–, it does.