Brazil - Egypt Preview: African side looking for first ever victory over the Selecao
Mano Menezes' tournament favourites brushed aside hosts Great Britain in a recent friendly and will be hoping they catch their upcoming opponents unprepared after social unrest
By Ryan Benson
Rafael, Silva, Juan, Marcelo
Hulk, Damiao, Neymar
Fathi, Hegazy, Gaber, Milo
El-Din Ahmed, Aboutrika
Mohsen, Motaeb, Salah
Brazil's preparation for their opening match against Egypt hit a bit of a hiccup when first-choice goalkeeper Rafael Cabral was ruled out of the tournament with a bruised elbow.
Fiorentina’s Neto will start in place of the Santos custodian, while 19-year-old AC Milan shot-stopper Gabriel steps in as second choice and Atletico Mineiro’s Renan Ribeiro is on standby.
Aside from that, Brazil are likely to remain unchanged from their easy victory over Team GB, with the only question mark potentially being Alexandre Pato replacing Internacional’s Leandro Damiao, who had a poor match against Stuart Pearce’s men.
The injury to Rafael may be a minor inconvenience to Brazil, but Egypt have struggled to even play matches since February when a match between Al-Ahly and Al-Masry ended in a riot which killed 70 people.
Football in the country has been halted indefinitely since the incident due to fears that the catastrophe may be repeated, while the national team have only played a small number of games behind closed doors at home in recent weeks, being based in Uruguay and France before then.
In terms of their team they do not have any injury news; however, the Egyptian assistant coach hinted that the three over-age players - Emad Motaeb, Ahmed Fathi and 2008 BBC African Footballer of the Year Mohamed Aboutrika - are not guaranteed starting places against Brazil on Thursday.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Brazil and Egypt have faced each other seven times in their history but the Africans are yet to pick up a win.
- The last competitive meeting between the two sides was at the Confederations Cup in 2009. Brazil ran out 4-3 winners with Luis Fabiano, Juan and a Kaka double securing the win despite a Mohamed Zidan-inspired fight back.
- Brazil’s lead-up to the Olympics has been mixed with a straight forward 2-0 win over Great Britain coming after a 2-0 defeat at home to Mexico, and then a 4-3 loss to bitter rivals Argentina.
- Egypt’s two most recent matches saw the full senior side lose 4-3 on aggregate to Central African Republic after losing 3-2 at home and only managing a 1-1 draw away in Bangui.
- Marcelo and Alexandre Pato (pictured right) have played more matches at Under-23 level than the rest of their team-mates with six appearances each.
- Brazil’s three over-age players at the tournament are Thiago Silva, Marcelo and Hulk. Emad Motaeb, Mohamed Aboutrika and Ahmed Fathi are Egypt’s senior representatives.
- Only goalkeepers Neto and Gabriel have not been capped at full international level for Brazil. William Hill offer 9/5 for both teams to score in this game.
- Aboutrika is the most experienced player at international level in both squads, with 91 caps for his nation.
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Top 3 Predictions
Brazil Under 23 3-0 Egypt U-23
- 19.01 %
Brazil Under 23 3-1 Egypt U-23
- 10.83 %
Brazil Under 23 2-0 Egypt U-23
- 10.5 %
|Olympic Games (OLY)||26 Jul 2012||Brazil Under 23 3 - Egypt U-23 2|
|Brazil Under 23|
|11 Aug 2012||Brazil Under 23 1 - Mexico U-23 2||OLY|
|7 Aug 2012||Brazil Under 23 3 - South Korea Under 23 0||OLY|
|4 Aug 2012||Brazil Under 23 3 - Honduras Under 23 2||OLY|
|1 Aug 2012||Brazil Under 23 3 - New Zealand Under 23 0||OLY|
|29 Jul 2012||Brazil Under 23 3 - Belarus U-23 1||OLY|
|-||Ahmed Al Shenawy||Goalkeeper|
|-||Mahmoud Alaa Eldin||Defender|
|22||Mohammed Abu Trika||Midfielder|
|17||Mohamed El Nenny||Midfielder|
The choice of Neymar a ‘player to watch’ may be a bit obvious, but he is simply too good to be ignored. The 20-year-old star can be masterful and petulant in equal measure, but the skinny forward is one of those rare gems who can unleash havoc with one run, turn, pass or flick.
The Santos man is arguably the player most will be want to watch at these Olympics and he is exactly the type of player to live up to such pressures, with his show-man nature likely to be at centre-stage. Expect goals, skill, show-boating, angry defenders and plenty of rolling around on the floor with the Brazilian magician.
|Mohammed Abu Trika|
In many ways Aboutrika is the anti-Neymar. The attacking midfielder is a quiet, humble and understated person off the pitch, but on it no one can doubt his quality.
The Al-Ahly man has often been in the running for African Footballer of the Year, but many have argued his competitors have generally had the edge due to their presence in European football, but that’s not to say he has never been good enough.
At the age of 33 it is likely these Olympics will be his final international tournament, but this clever attacker will be hoping to showcase his sublime passing and finishing abilities to a wide audience one last time.
Mano Menezes' side have so much quality in attack it is hard to see them not obliterating Egypt on Thursday, with the likes of Neymar, Pato, Damiao and Hulk ready to wreak havoc when given the opportunity.
However, their defence can be uninspiring with Rafael and Marcelo not the most compromising full-backs around, while Great Britain caused problems for them in the air at set-pieces, if nowhere else.
Nevertheless, anything other than a comfortable Brazil win will be a big shock, but that simply will not happen.