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Published on April 18th, 2017 | by BrazilStats

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Marcelo v the rest: The battle to be Brazil’s best left-back begins

Most international sides will do well to have one world-class left-back in their ranks, but Brazil have three. And all have a strong case for being in Brazil’s best XI

Marcelo, Filipe Luis or Alex Sandro?

This is the million-dollar question at the moment for Tite, the Brazil manager. After topping the FIFA rankings for the first time in seven years, Brazil fans have found a new dilemma to keep them busy during the break from international football. Who should be the number one left-back for the planet’s number one team?

Alex Sandro – Juventus

The 26-year old is the youngest out of the three, and has been the best at his position in the Italian league this season. With his balanced style of play, Sandro supports the attack while being aware of his defensive duties – as he displayed when he successfully contributed in marking Lionel Messi in the Champions League clash between Juventus and FC Barcelona.

Tackles per game: 2.4

Interceptions per game: 2.2

Average pass success: 84.8%

Chances created per game: 1.9

Goals: 2

Assists: 4

Filipe Luis – Atlético Madrid

The veteran will be 32 at the World Cup, which is usually considered the peak age for an experienced fullback. Filipe has been one of the best at his position in the past few years, pulling out excellent performances in big Champions League games, as well helping Atlético Madrid win the Spanish league in 2014.

Tackles per game: 2.7

Interceptions per game: 1.6

Average pass success: 82%

Chances created per game: 0.9

Goals: 3

Assists: 5

Marcelo – Real Madrid

A regular at Real Madrid since years, and Tite’s favorite choice for the left back position at Brazil’s national team, Marcelo has so often risen above critics that accused him of being a liability. And although there is truth in these accusations – to a certain extent, the Brazilian’s fans believe that his offensive stats make up for his defensive deficiencies more often than not.

Tackles per game: 1.6

Interceptions per game: 1.6

Average pass success: 82%

Chances created per game: 1.5

Goals: 1

Assists: 8

Poll result:

In a poll organized on Twitter with nearly two thousand participants, the result has shown that 39% believe that Marcelo is the way forward for Tite ahead of the World Cup.

There is no doubt that Alex Sandro, Filipe Luis and Marcelo have the quality to start for almost any other national team in the world. Brazil are lucky to have the three, but only two of them can be selected for the grandest stage of them, and only one will have the privilege of occupying the starting position.

The choice is very difficult to make, but Marcelo’s connection with Neymar has so far been one of Brazil’s strongest assets in the qualifying games. The understanding between these two, alongside the skill-sets that they possess, allows them to infiltrate the opponent’s defense and break their lines with their triangular plays, in a fashionable style that the fans enjoy watching.

While Sandro and Luis are admittedly better defenders in one-on-one situations, Renato Augusto and Casemiro’s high work-rate and their availability to cover the fullbacks whenever they leave spaces behind them, has so far worked wonders – even against Argentina. Marcelo understands the needs of the Tite system, and positions himself in a more central position when Brazil is during the build-up phase, allowing the side to gain compactness.

The answer as to who is the best between the three might still be up for debate, but one thing is sure: no matter who starts, Brazil will be relying on one of the best left backs in the world, in their quest of conquering Russia in 2018, and adding the record sixth star. This was my opinion, what about yours?

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