Brazil’s Greatest XI: 2000 – 2020

Brazil have routinely produced many of the greatest players in history, from the days of Leonides in the 1930s, to Ademir, Vava and Garrincha, the great 1970 team spearheaded by Pele, as well as the 1982 generation of Zico and Socrates.

That hasn’t changed in the 21st century, with countless superstars wearing Seleção colours over the last 20 years alone.

Here’s a look at Brazil’s greatest XI from 2000 to 2020…

Dida (GK)

Brazil long had a reputation for not producing world class goalkeepers, until perhaps Dida, who was a virtual ever-present in the dominant AC Milan side of the early and mid-2000s.

Dida was named Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year in 2003/04, and was ranked among the best in the world by historical and statistical body IFFHS around the same time. In 2013, IFFHS ranked Dida the best Brazilian goalkeeper of the 21st century and seventh overall.

Dani Alves (RB)

Dani Alves took over the mantle from legendary predecessor Cafu for the Seleção and continued to redefine the art of full-back, at times one of the most devastating attacking players in the world.

Alves has enjoyed incredible success over the last 20 years, starting when he made his name in Europe with Sevilla as a two-time UEFA Cup winner. He stepped up to a new level at Barcelona, winning three Champions League, and has played for Brazil 118 times.

Lúcio (CB)

Lucio initially emerged as a star at Bayer Leverkusen when the unfancied German side reached the 2002 Champions League final. Later that year he played every minute at the World Cup.

Having traded Leverkusen for Munich and won three German doubles with Bayern, Lucio moved on to Inter for the finest achievement of his club career. The Brazilian centre-back was key man in the Nerazzurri’s historic treble in his very first season at the club.

Juan (CB)

Although he doesn’t get as much credit as his long-term international partner, Juan was the player who replaced Lucio at Leverkusen in 2002 and they played alongside each other for most of their careers with the Seleção – Juan appeared 79 times in total.

Juan was a two-time Copa America champion with Brazil, while he also won the Coppa Italia during a spell at Roma and multiple state championships with Flamengo.

Roberto Carlos (LB)

A contender as the greatest left-back in football history? Roberto Carlos emerged as a superstar in the 1990s and by 2000 was established as one of the best players in the world.

Known for his ability to strike the ball with incredible power and precision, his record of success speaks for itself. He won three La Liga titles and two Champions League with Real Madrid in the 2000s, in addition to earlier triumphs, and was a World Cup winner in 2002.

Casemiro (DM)

Casemiro was the midfield fulcrum that Real Madrid’s three successive Champions League titles between 2016 and 2018 was built on, providing a solid foundation for the rest of the team to thrive.

He has been one of the first names on the teamsheet at the Bernabeu since he returned from a defining loan at Porto in 2015 and has also earned that status with Brazil as well. More than half of his 46 international appearances to date have come since the start of 2018 alone.

Kaká (AM)

For 11 years, Kaká was the only player other than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to have won a Ballon d’Or award, doing so in the same year he won the Champions League with AC Milan.

Kaká was the youngest member of the 2002 World Cup squad and everything that he achieved in his career was even more remarkable given that he recovered from a swimming pool accident aged 18 that had threatened to leave him paralysed.

Ronaldinho (AM)

So many of today’s star players cite Ronaldinho as one of their idols and greatest influences growing up, reflecting the impact he and his unbelievable trickery had at his peak in the mid-2000s.

Ronaldinho almost single handedly resurrected Barcelona as a European force, won the Ballon d’Or, two FIFA World Player of the Year gongs and the Champions League. That was after he’d enjoyed a breakout role as Brazil’s newest star at the 2002 World Cup as well.

Rivaldo (FW)

Rivaldo was coming off the back of Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 1999 and was virtually unplayable for Barcelona and Brazil at his peak in the early 2000s.

Rivaldo was at his most prolific for Barcelona in 2000/01, netting 36 times in all competitions, while he scored five times at the 2002 World Cup. The following year, he collected a Champions League medal with AC Milan and continued to win trophies in Greece and Uzbekistan.

Ronaldo (FW)

Ronaldo performed the most heroic of sporting comebacks in 2002 when he scored eight goals en-route to winning the World Cup, fully exercising the demons of the 1998 final and overcoming career threatening knee problems that had cost him nearly three years of his career.

He won a second career Ballon d’Or in 2002, enjoyed several prolific seasons with Real Madrid thereafter and in 2006 set a new record as the World Cup’s all-time top scorer.

Neymar (FW)

Neymar is the most expensive player in history following his 2017 transfer to Paris Saint-Germain and the former Santos youngster has been a superstar since the age of 17.

He helped Santos to three consecutive state titles between 2010 and 2012, won the Copa Libertadores, enjoyed incredible Barcelona success as part of the club’s gabled MSN front three, inspired Brazil to an Olympic gold medal and has scored 61 times for the Seleção by the age of 28.

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