Buenos Aires: Maicon is celebrating his successful return to Brazil's line-up and is hoping his impressive performance against Ecuador will keep him in the team against Paraguay in the Copa America quarter-finals on Sunday.
Maicon made his tournament debut in Brazil's 4-2 victory on Wednesday and was considered key in the team's improvement after the first two lackluster group matches.
"Every time I get a chance to play I try to make the most of it, and that's what happened against Ecuador," the Inter Milan right back said. "I hope I'll get another chance in the next match, but I know it's difficult in the national team because we are all good players here."
Maicon made an assist and threatened constantly with runs on the right side, giving Brazil an edge throughout the match in Cordoba.
"I hadn't played in two months so I was worried," he said. "But I felt good. I kept working hard to show my football and wait for my space."
Maicon replaced Daniel Alves, who struggled in the first two matches and made a defensive mistake that cost Brazil a goal in the 2-2 draw with Paraguay. Coach Mano Menezes said the error was not the reason he dropped the Barcelona player, saying he opted for Maicon to try to change the team tactically and create more alternatives.
"The team hadn't been producing on the right side," the coach said. "Maicon added the spark that we wanted, making runs and giving us more balance. It was the right move and the team improved like we wanted."
>Maicon made a great run and a perfect pass for Neymar's goal in the 76th minute against Ecuador, sealing Brazil's victory and a berth in the last eight. The right back set up his teammates several other times before, including for a Robinho shot that struck the post in the first half.
Maicon also had a couple of chances to score himself, but his shots near the end of the match were stopped by Ecuador goalkeeper Marcelo Elizaga.
The 30-year-old Maicon has been a regular starter at Inter Milan and played for Brazil throughout the World Cup in South Africa last year. He lost his spot after Menezes took over the team after the World Cup and preferred to use Daniel Alves.
Menezes hinted he will keep Maicon in the line-up against Paraguay but didn't make it official.
"When you have two exceptional players in the position, it's easier to make a decision," Menezes said.