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Confederations Cup Preview: Brazil – South Africa

Kick Off: Thursday 25 June, 2009, 20:30 CET,
Johannesburg, South Africa


Three 'N'Easy

After an awkward start against Egypt, when Brazil needed a last-gasp penalty from Kaka to secure the win, the Selecao have gone on to impress in South Africa.

The USA were easily despatched courtesy of goals by Melo, Maicon and Robinho before world champions Italy promptly met the same fate.

Three goals in five first-half minutes saw the Azzurri sent packing from the tournament with Luis Fabiano bagging a double and a Dossena own goal sealing the win.

All of which means that Dunga’s side have booked their place in the last four with maximum points and having hit 10 goals in just three games.

As such they will be overwhelming favourites to secure a spot in Sunday’s final against either Spain or the USA.

However, the Brazil coach has urged caution from his side ahead of the semi-final and has admitted that with coach Joel Santana on the opposing bench, the men in yellow must be careful.

“They are coached by Joel Santana, who is one of the more respected Brazilian coaches, and together, we have had many meetings,” he said.

“South Africa have a strong team, especially physically, and they will also have the full support of the home crowd. We must be careful with them. But I believe we can still improve because we have players with great technical ability and because we are playing together more and more.”

Nothing To Lose

South Africa, meanwhile, have enjoyed a rather steadier tournament, backed by a vociferous home support.

A goalless draw with Iraq on the opening day was followed by a 2-0 win over New Zealand with Bernard Parker grabbing both goals.

European champions Spain were up next and whilst Bafana Bafana started well they ultimately succumbed to defeat, yet with four points out of six were able to grab the runners-up spot.

Whilst few would expect the hosts to progress against Brazil, midfielder Benson Mhlongo insists this will help the South Africans who have nothing to lose.

“History can repeat itself, but it’s up to us as players to let it happen,” he told KickOff.com.

“The way we played against Spain gave us confidence. We have to play to win because we’ve got nothing to lose.”


FORM GUIDE

Brazil


21 June: Italy 0-3 Brazil
18 June: Brazil 3-0 USA
15 June: Brazil 4-3 Egypt
10 June:  Brazil 2-1 Paraguay

South Africa

20 June: Spain 2-0 South Africa
17 June: South Africa 2-0 New Zealand
14 June: South Africa 0-0 Iraq
06 June: South Africa 1-0 Poland


TEAM NEWS

Brazil

Injury rules Juan out of the game therefore Luisao should take his place at the back.

Possible Starting XI: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Luisao, Santos, Gilberto Silva, Felipe Melo, Ramires, Kaka, Robinho, Luis Fabiano.

South Africa.

The hosts have no injury problems but MacBeth Sibaya is suspended and Benson Mhlongo should return to the midfield.

Possible Starting XI
: Khune, Booth, Gaxa, Masilela, Davids, Mokoena, Mhlongo, Pienaar, Modise, Mashego, Parker.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brazil – Maicon

 
The full-back has returned to fitness with a bang in the Confederations Cup and has played a starring role in the Selecao’s last two games.

His runs down the right flank have been all but unstoppable and the hosts will need to keep a very close eye on the marauding Maicon if they are to emerge from this fixture unscathed.

South Africa – Bernard Parker

If anyone is to fire Bafana Bafana past Brazil it could just be Bernard Parker, South Africa's top scorer in the competition.

His two goals against New Zealand are the only goals the home crowds have had to celebrate so far in the tournament but how they would love another double on Thursday.

PREDICTION

The Brazilians look to be enjoying the Confederations Cup and with the goals flowing it may just take something special to stop them.

Home advantage will undoubtedly help the hosts but not even the vuvuzelas may be enough to knock Dunga’s men out of their stride and it will be a major surprise if they don’t make it through to Sunday’s final.

Prediction: Brazil 2-0 South Africa

Gill Clark, Goal.com