Samba stars: Coral’s Premier League era past players Brazil XI
With Arsenal set to announce the signing of Gabriel Paulista from Villarreal and Chelsea interested in capturing Shakhtar Donetsk player Douglas Costa, Coral’s football experts got thinking: who are the greatest Brazilians to have played Premier League football?
No current Samba Boys stars feature in our all-star side, so if you’re looking for Oscar, Ramires, Willian, Phillipe Coutinho, Lucas Leiva, etc, then we’ve chosen the past over a pretty damn good present. Nostalgia is all the rage, so read on and see who makes our XI:
Goalkeeper: Julio Cesar
QPR pulled off a real coup when the landed Champions League winning stopper Cesar in 2012, but his heroics between the posts couldn’t keep the Loftus Road club up during their last top-flight stint. Harry Redknapp’s Hoops are even-money to stay in the Premier League this season, though.
Right back: Juliano Belletti
Chelsea do still feature in our XI, even if their current Brazilian crop have been left out in favour of yesteryear. Right back Belletti won the 2009/10 Premier League title and two FA Cups during his three-year stint at Stamford Bridge.
Centre back: Roque Junior
Like Belletti, this former Leeds United loanee won the 2002 World Cup with the Samba Boys during Luiz Felipe Scolari’s first spell in charge of his country. Roque Junior is a cult hero at Elland Road following a memorable cup brace against Manchester United.
Centre back: David Luiz
Cultured defender Luiz lifted pretty much every major club honour except the Premier League during three-and-a-half years with Chelsea. He famously drew criticism from Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville about playing as though he was controlled like a computer game simulation, but FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League winners’ medals suggest there was better discipline.
Left back: Fabio Aurelio
A wing back in the best Brazilian tradition, injury-prone Aurelio made 87 appearances during six seasons at Anfield. Under Kenny Dalglish he won the League Cup, which Liverpool are 11/2 third-favourites to do so again this term.
Defensive midfield: Gilberto Silva
Perhaps the most effective player we’ve picked here. Ex-Arsenal anchorman Silva has a Premier League title and two FA Cups on his CV. He formed a fearsome engine room partnership with Patrick Vieira, and was a vital cog of ‘the Invincibles’ side. Arsene Wenger’s Gunners are FA Cup holders, and now 9/4 favourites to retain the trophy.
Central midfield: Jose Kleberson
Who can forget Manchester United’s midfield flop? Like Anderson, but almost a decade earlier, Kleberson failed to make much impact at Old Trafford, though does have an FA Cup winners’ medal from 2004.
Right wing: Elano
Attacking midfielder Elano often played down the right for Manchester City (9/2 Premier League title chances this term) before they established themselves among Europe’s elite. His guile made him a vital asset in the 2007/08 and 2008/09 campaigns.
Attacking midfield: Julio Baptista
Nicknamed ‘the Beast’, number 10 Baptista wore nine at Arsenal, but saved his best form during a loan spell with the Gunners in 2006/07 for the League Cup. Liverpool will still be haunted by his four-goal haul.
Left wing: Robinho
One of two forwards that went from hot to cold in English football very quickly that make our XI. Robinho had been a club teammate of Baptista’s at Real Madrid, but became a £33m flop for Man City. His first Premier League season (2008/09) saw him rack up 14 goals in 31 games, but he failed to net before leaving for Santos on loan.
Striker: Afonso Alves
Former Middlesbrough frontman Alves leads our all-star attack and, like Robinho, started his career in England on fire, scoring six in 11 after a 2008 winter window deadline day move from Eredivisie outfit Heerenveen. The wheels then fell off, however, but Boro are odds-on 8/11 second-favourites to be playing Premier League football again next term.
Former Spurs stopper Heurelho Gomes won four Eredivisie titles with PSV Eindhoven before joining White Hart Lane in 2008, but failed to really replicate that success for club or country.
In defence, who can forget another Chelsea old boy Alex? His free-kicks contributed the odd goal much like Stamford Bridge successor Luiz. Arsenal and Man City both had left back Sylvinho on their books as well.
Gunners fans should also remember Edu, while Juninho Paulista enjoys cult status at Middlesbrough. In attack, we’ve kept two more Man City old boys in reserve with Geovanni, who also played for Hull, and Jo.