South American juggernauts, Brazil will embark on a mission to win for the first time and score their first ever goal at Ecuador in a World Cup qualifying encounter.
Since then, however, they have only lost once in their subsequent seven qualifiers, which came rather surprisingly in the shape of a 3-1 loss to
They have clawed their way back into contention to qualify for their third ever World Cup finals and their third in succession, although they will face a lot of stiff competition. Surprise package,
Currently sitting in sixth place in the gruelling CONMEBOL qualifying section,
After this weekend’s clash with second-placed
Inconsistent But Improving
The Selecao may be second in the current CONMEBOL standings but they are a massive six points adrift of the impressive Paraguayans, and just one point ahead of their bitter rivals,
After ten rounds in the South American qualifiers, not once have they been able to string together back-to-back wins. Not only that, they have failed to win their last three matches at home and they have also failed to score a single goal infront of their fans. But on their travels, they have been notably prolific.
They’ve won their last two away from home and scored seven goals in the process and there are signs that they could be hitting a rich vein of form as coach, Dunga starts to slowly unravel the combinations to his perfect eleven.
He also appears to have discovered the ideal playing style and system for his team, as the two most recent performances will show. In November last year, they gave a masterclass in attacking football to their European brothers, Portugal, when they destroyed them 6-2 in a friendly and just last month, they again looked convincing when they easily swept past their closest World Cup rivals, Italy, 2-0.
But the qualifiers often prove a very different challenge for
Goalkeepers: Jose Francisco Cevallos (LDU
Defenders: Neicer Reasco, Jairo Campos, Paul Ambrosi (LDU Quito), Miguel Ibarra (Espoli), Giovanni Espinoza (Barcelona SC), Jorge Guagua (El Nacional), Ivan Hurtado (Millonarios), Isaac Mina (Deportivo Quito), Deyson Mendez (Espoli)
Midfielders: Segundo Castillo (Everton), Edison Mendez (PSV Eindhoven), Antonio Valencia (Wigan), Cristian Noboa (Rubin Kazan), Joffre Guerron (Getafe), Walter Ayovi (Monterrey), David Quiroz (Emelec), Patricio Urrutia (LDU Quito), Jefferson Montero (Independiente Jose Teran)
Forwards: Felipe Caicedo (
Probable Starting XI (
Playmaker Kaka remains a huge doubt due to a foot injury, although Dunga is optimistic that he will be fit in time. Striker Adriano, meanwhile, is still nursing an ankle problem. Roma centre-back, Juan, has been left out of the squad again after picking up an injury in the Champions League clash against Arsenal two weeks ago.
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Inter), Doni (AS Roma)
Defenders: Daniel Alves (
Midfielders: Gilberto Silva (Panathinaikos), Josue (VfL Wolfsburg),
Forwards: Ronaldinho (AC Milan), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Luis Fabiano (Sevilla), Adriano (Inter), Robinho (
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Julio Cesar – Maicon, Lucio, Luisao, Kleber – Gilberto Silva, Anderson – Elano, Ronaldinho/Kaka, Robinho – Luis Fabiano
PLAYERS TO WATCH
As one of the perennial underdogs, Ecuador rely heavily on their compact team unity to overcome the bigger South American superstars and their coach, Sixto Vizuete has confidently boasted that his side are stronger than Brazil collectively. But if there’s one player he can look to to turn the game around, it will be winger, Antonio Valencia, a player who can easily exploit their opponents’ attacking-minded fullbacks.
Robinho may not be consistently at his best with his club side,
But Brazil, invariably, are a side who performs better on away games as they take advantage of their opponents’ desire to come out and attack when at home. The altitude could prevent the Canarinho from performing to their full potential but they should still have enough firepower to sneak away with a narrow win.
KS Leong, Goal.com