Brazil's Copa America Centenario roster looks to be experimental

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Brazil's Ricardo Oliveira (R) celebrates with teammate Willian after scoring against Venezuela during World Cup South American Qualifiers match in Brazil, on October 13, 2015 (AFP Photo/Nelson Almeida)

Brazil's Ricardo Oliveira (R) celebrates with teammate Willian after scoring against Venezuela during World Cup South American Qualifiers football match in Brazil, on October 13, 2015

Brazil's Ricardo Oliveira (R) celebrates with teammate Willian after scoring against Venezuela during World Cup South American Qualifiers match in Brazil, on October 13, 2015 (AFP Photo/Nelson Almeida)

It isn't Brazil's B team, exactly. But it isn't the A team, either. Maybe call it the A-minus team.

Embattled Brazilian head coach Dunga announced his final 23-man roster for the 2016 Copa America Centenario in the United States on Thursday, about two weeks before he was required to do so. His final squad will not include Barcelona star Neymar or defenders Marcelo (Real Madrid), Thiago Silva and David Luiz (both Paris Saint-Germain) as they had all been left off the 40-man provisional roster – most likely so three of them can serve as the overage players at the Under-23 Olympic tournament in Brazil in August.

But Dunga nonetheless omitted several major names like Orlando City's Kaka, PSG's Lucas Moura, Liverpool's Roberto Firmino, Chelsea's Oscar and Manchester City's Fernandinho.

In their stead, what he called up was not a young team, exactly, with an average age of 26, but a fairly inexperienced one nonetheless. A full 13 of the 23 players have represented their country fewer than 10 times, while only Dani Alves has more than 46 caps. Hulk has the most goals with a dozen. Dani Alves follows with seven.

Meanwhile, 19-year old Gabigol, so nicknamed, did make the team, although the striker phenom from Santos has yet to make his debut. Defenders Douglas Santos and Rodrigo Caio and goalkeeper Ederson also haven't yet gotten onto the field for Brazil.

Is Dunga taking the Copa America Centenario seriously? (AP Photo)
Is Dunga taking the Copa America Centenario seriously? (AP Photo)

Gleaning much about Dunga's mindset from this roster is tricky. Plainly, his squad is experimental. But it's harder to discern if this is because he isn't taking the one-off centenary tournament terribly seriously or if he's merely seizing it as a chance to try some things before World Cup qualifying resumes in September.

After all, his Brazilian team has stumbled out of the gates, winning just two of its first six games in the marathon South American qualifying process. At present, the Selecao finds itself in sixth place, one spot out of the playoff berth and two out of an automatic qualification for Russia in 2018.

So perhaps the defensively-oriented manager is merely seeing who might be of use to him later on in the year. Or it might be that he felt his side needed a big shakeup.

Either way, he won't be bringing the best Brazil that he possible can – on paper, anyway. But it should still be plenty strong to compete.

BRAZIL 23-MAN ROSTER FOR COPA AMERICA CENTENARIO

Goalkeepers – Alisson (Internacional), Diego Alves (Valencia), Ederson (Benfica).

Defenders – Miranda (Inter Milan), Gil (Shandong), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Fabinho (Monaco), Douglas Santos (Atletico Mineiro).

Midfielders – Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Elias (Corinthians), Renato Augusto (Guoan), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Lucas Lima (Santos), Willian (Chelsea), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Rafinha (Barcelona), Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich).

Forwards – Hulk (Zenit St. Petersburg), Gabriel "Gabigol" (Santos), Ricardo Oliviera (Santos).

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.

 

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