Missing captain Neymar, Kaka, Douglas Costa, and many others, a depleted and quite young Brazil squad open the 2016 Copa America Centanario against Ecuador in Saturday night’s Group B matchup at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Altogether, Dunga’s side will miss most of its stars as the traditional soccer titan attempts to snap underwhelming play at the Copa America. Brazil hasn’t advanced past the quarterfinals in the last two tournaments, and it may prove difficult without Luis Gustavo, Rafinha, Ricardo Oliveira, and Ederson, as well as Paris Saint-Germain’s Thiago Silva and David Luiz.
Yet, Dunga is optimistic that his remaining top players like Hulk, Dani Alves, and Willian can lead while the younger players gain experience.
"Obviously we'd like to have Neymar here, but this is a top team,'' Dunga said. "Some of them are very young, but they have quality. This is an opportunity for these players to show they deserve to be on the first team.''
Selecao will be particularly green in defense, with Rodrigo Caio, Fabinho, Douglas Santos, and Marquinhos all 22 years old and have a combined 15 senior team appearances. There’s also 19-year-old forward Gabriel beside Hulk and Jonas at the spear of the attack.
Ecuador enter the tournament as a heavy underdog, but there is still plenty of talent on Gustavo Quinteros' 23-man roster. The most notable figures are still Antonio Valencia and Enner Valencia, two attacking players with enough skill to help keep Ecuador in contention.
Jefferson Montero and Juan Carlos Paredes should also provide a lift for La Tricolor. Both players, like the aforementioned Antonio Valencia and Enner Valencia, completed a season in the highly competitive Premier League, and have considerable international experience.
But Ecuador has not looked particularly strong in recent matches. They only earned a home draw against Paraguay in a World Cup qualifier on March 29, and followed that up five days later with a loss to Colombia, 3-1. On May 25, the U.S. defeated Ecuador in friendly in Frisco, Texas, 1-0.
The last time Ecuador advanced to the quarterfinals was in 1997.
GK - Alisson (Internacional)
GK - Diego Alves (Valencia)
GK - Marcelo Grohe (Gremio)
D - Dani Alves (Barcelona)
D - Fabinho (Monaco)
D - Douglas Santos (Atletico Mineiro)
D - Filípe Luís (Atletico de Madrid)
D - Gil (Shandong Luneng)
D - Marquinhos (Paris Saint Germain)
D - Miranda (Inter Milan)
D - Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo)
M - Casemiro (Real Madrid)
M - Elias (Corinthians)
M - Walace (Gremio)
M - Lucas Moura (Paris Saint-Germain)
M - Lucas Lima (Santos)
M - Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
M - Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan)
M - Willian (Chelsea)
M - Paulo Henrique Ganso (Sao Paulo)
F - Gabriel (Santos)
F - Hulk (Zenit)
F - Jonas (Benfica)
GK - Dominguez, Alexander (LDU de Quito)
GK - Dreer, Esteban (C.S. Emelec)
GK - Banguera, Maximo (Barcelona SC)
D - Paredes, Juan Carlos (Watford)
D - Mina, Arturo (Independiente del Valle)
D - Achilier, Gabriel (C.S. Emelec)
D - Erazo, Frickson (Atletico Mineiro)
D - Arboleda, Robert (U. Catolica)
D - Ayovi, Walter (Monterrey)
D - Ramirez, Cristian (Ferencvarosi TC)
M - Valencia, Antonio (Manchester United)
M - Mena, Angel (C.S. Emelec)
M - Noboa, Christian (Rostov)
M - Gaibor, Fernando (C.S. Emelec)
M - Larrea, Pedro (El Nacional)
M - Gruezo, Carlos (FC Dallas)
M - Montero, Jefferson (Swansea)
M - Arroyo, Michael (Club America)
M - Martinez, Fidel (Pumas)
F - Valencia, Enner (West Ham)
F - Ayovi, Jaime (Godoy Cruz)
F - Cazares, Juan (Atletico Mineiro)
F - Bolanos, Miller (Gremio)
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1