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Confederations Cup Preview: Brazil - Egypt

Kick-off: Monday June 15, 2009, 16:00 CET, Loftus Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein.

Brazil Looking To Retain Title

Brazil, who have never missed a single edition of the Confederations Cup, are the current defending champions and probably the biggest contenders for the title.

The South American team already boast two titles and have enjoyed a return to form and are currently leading the South American qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup.

Fresh from an historic 4-0 win at Uruguay and a 2-1 victory over then table-topping Paraguay, confidence is high in the Brazilian squad. Coach Dunga seems to have finally found how to make efficient use of his stars following strong criticism from several quarters after a poor run of form.

However, this will be a big of test for Dunga as the Brazilians are always hungry for titles and will want nothing less than to add a third Confederations Cup to their cabinet.

An interesting matter will be at the right side of the defence as Barcelona's Daniel Alves is challenging Maicon from Inter Milan for a place in the starting XI. This position has not had a solid figure since Cafu's retirement and Alves, who was a starter against Paraguay on
Wednesday, is expected to be given the nod ahead of Maicon, who has not fully recovered from an injury.

Consistency-Seekers

Robinho has made no secret that he knows little about Egypt. He seems to have the right to do so as the Manchester City star will not have the chance to meet Amr Zaki and Mido, two men that ply their trade in the Premier League.

Despite his shortage of attacking solutions, Hassan Shehata has opted to keep Mido out of his plans for this tournament, citing 'tactical reasons'. For his part, Zaki has been ruled out after picking up an injury.

Egypt, currently sit in 40th place in FIFA's World Rankings, are desperate to make amends for recent disappointments after a poor start  in their World Cup qualifying group which has seen them clinch just one point from two games. They are still smarting from a 3-1 defeat to Algeria last week.

The African side are the current champions of the continent's Cup of Nations but that will mean little or nothing against one of the world's strongest nations. Their chances of progressing to the knock-out stage look very slim at best, and they will find it very hard to play their game against an extremely attacking side.

FORM GUIDE

Brazil

10/06 (World Cup Qualifier): Brazil-Paraguay 2-1
06/06 (World Cup Qualifier): Uruguay-Brazil 0-4
01/04 (World Cup Qualifier): Brazil-Peru 3-0
29/03 (World Cup Qualifier): Ecuador-Brazil 1-1
10/02 (Friendly): Brazil-Italy 2-0

Egypt

07/06 (World Cup Qualifier): Algeria 3-1 Egypt
30/05 (Friendly): Oman-Egypt 0-1
29/03 (World Cup Qualifier): Egypt 1-1 Zambia
11/02 (Friendly): Egypt 2-2 Ghana
23/01 (Friendly): Egypt 1-0 Kenya

TEAM NEWS

Brazil

Luis Fabiano returns to the squad after serving a one-game suspension.

Possible formation: Julio Cesar, Alves, Lucio, Juan, Kleber, Gilberto Silva, Felipe Melo, Elano, Kaka, Robinho, Luis Fabiano.

Egypt

Amr Zaki has been ruled out of the tournament after picking up a hamstring injury.

Possible formation: El hadary, Moawad, Ahmed Said, Aboutrika, Hani Said, Fathi, Rabo, Zidan, Shawky, Gomaa, Raouf.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Kaka (Brazil)

After signing for Real Madrid last week., more people will be keeping their eyes on the 27-year-old midfielder. With Brazil not featuring Ronaldinho, Kaka is the biggest star in the team's constellation.

Mohamed Shawky (Egypt)

The Middlesbrough man is one of Egypt's two players that perform in Europe. With Zaki and Mido out of the squad for this tournament, Shawky may prove to be Egypt's commanding force in the tournament.

PREDICTION

Anything less than Brazil dominating this game should be seen as a surprise.

Brazil 3-0 Egypt

Luis Mira, Goal.com