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SheBelieves Preview: Brazil's experience set to blend in young talent

In 2019, Brazil made its debut in the SheBelieves Cup and things went about as bad as they could have. The team finished winless in their three matches.

Just four months later, Brazil hired former USWNT manager Pia Sundhage. Sundhage has led the Brazilian national team to a good run despite limited matches, losing just once over the last two years.

Now, the team brings a roster filled with familiar names into its second appearance in the SheBelieves Cup.

The likes of Marta and Debinha can intimidate any back line but there are other options to rely on in the attack. Andressinha never fully got going during her time in the NWSL, but she has hit her stride with Corinthians and can do damage down either flank. Atletico Madrid's Ludmila is likely to see some time at the top of the formation as well.

While those names are enough to get any fan to tune in, Brazil has also called up some young talent to keep an eye on during the tournament. Teenagers Ivana Fuso of Manchester United and Giovana Queiroz of Barcelona can both make a major impact in Brazil’s attack. Fuso is expected to get her first international cap during the tournament. Giovana had her debut during the friendlies against Ecuador.

This may be many fans’ first look at these two young players who are expected to be playing at the highest level for many years to come, so when they get the chance to be on the pitch, they will be carrying some of the spotlight. It may be hard for either player to find starts with the talent and experience available to Brazil in this squad, but the duo’s youth could serve as a good change of pace when some of that experience needs a break during the tight schedule.

The midfield has some gaps to fill as PSG did not release Formiga or Luana who would likely be the first choices in the center of the field. That leaves very little depth in the midfield which could force Sundhage into a more attacking formation with Marta dropping into a true midfield role. You could see Julia Bianchi in a more centralized role or it could provide an opportunity for Tainara to have a breakout performance.

Brazil’s defense entering the tournament has more question marks around it. There are more than a few ways Sundhage can organize her back line, and it would not be surprising to see three different sets of defenders in Brazil’s three matches. Fabiana was scratched from the original roster due to a positive COVID-19 test, which leaves Rafaelle Souza to probably serve as the anchor in one of the two center back roles. Inter Milan’s Kathellen Sousa was the late call up for Fabiana's spot. She could be forced into a starting role in the same way she was during the 2019 World Cup. Bruna Benites is another option in the middle and brings the most experience to the defense, but it is unlikely to see her play all 270 minutes over the next two weeks.

The fullback positions can also be looked at in a few different ways, but it seems likely Tamires will slide into her more natural position as a pressing left back, where she can provide plenty of service for Brazil’s attacking options. The right back spot may be more up in the air, once again being affected by Fabinia’s absence. Camilinha could get the nod (almost by a process of elimination), and her Palmeiras teammate Bianchi may also find herself in a more defensive role due to the lack of depth at the fullback spots.

All three goalkeepers on the roster have proven themselves capable of starting during Sundhage’s short tenure, but Barbara seems like the most likely option to get the nod between the posts. She started both friendlies against Ecuador while Aline Reis and Leticia were subbed on for one half each.

Brazil got three matches in during the Tournoi de France last March, but had an eight-month gap before the team got to return to the pitch with a pair of friendly victories against Ecuador at the end of November. Those were the final tune-up games prior to SheBelieves Cup, and the team currently has no other matches scheduled prior to the Olympics. They will be looking to build some more momentum into the summer.

Brazil opens the tournament against Argentina on Thursday.

Projected XI (4-4-2): Barbara; Camilinha, Rafaelle, Kathellen, Tamires; Bianchi; Fuso, Bianchi, Marta, Andressinha; Debinha, Ludmila

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