It promises to be a footballing carnival in Brasília on Wednesday night as the pioneers and masters of
Despite sharing the same culture, history, language, footballing principles and to a certain extent the same type of players,
A Seleção are five-time world champions with eight continental crowns tucked away in the background, while their European brothers can only boast of a third-placed finished in the World Cup (1966) and a runners-up medal at the European Championships (2004).
One thing they do have in common throughout 2008, especially these past few months, is that both nations have been utterly inconsistent and oftentimes just plain unconvincing. It’s even more ironic that two of the most attack-minded, stylish national sides in world football are having trouble scoring goals regularly.
The problem lies in the fact that the Canarinha simply cannot string together two decent performances back-to-back, let alone victories. An impressive, thumping win would often be followed by an uninspired scoreless draw and if there’s one thing that irks Brazilian fans more than losing, it is those dull, insipid goalless games.
Despite their rocky World Cup qualifying campaign, Brazil are still very much on course to book their ticket to South Africa 2010 as they sit in second spot in the CONMEBOL standings, a healthy four points inside the automatic qualification zone. The same, however, cannot be said for
The Selecção das Quinas currently lie in third place in Group 1 behind
Their last three qualifying games have been nothing short of a disaster. A shock 2-3 loss at home to
All this comes, of course, after their disappointing Euro 2008 campaign in Austria-Switzerland in the summer when they entered the tournament as one of the favourites, grew in stature almost immediately when the competition began, only to bow out tamely to Germany in the quarter-finals.
Even with an experienced, World Cup winning coach like Luiz Felipe Scolari steering the vessel,
There’s no doubting that the two current coaches, Dunga and Carlos Queiroz, are under varying degrees of pressure and both are fully aware that they may not have the same job by the time 2009 rolls around. But the pair will gladly forget about competitive football for a while and take Wednesday’s friendly to enjoy each other’s company and trade similar footballing philosophies.
Dunga has called up troubled Inter Milan striker Adriano to the squad but he has left out in-form playmaker, Ronaldinho, claiming that he does not want to risk the former Barça man picking up an injury while he is still not in perfect condition. Defender Lúcio has been forced to withdraw from the squad after picking up a knock at the weekend in club action with Bayern Munich.
Despite a vacant slot opening up, there’s no place for back-to-full-fitness Roma centre-back, Juan. However, recent omissions such as Marcelo, Diego and Luis Fabiano are all back in favour.
Goalkeepers: Júlio César (Inter Milan), Doni (AS Roma)
Defenders: Maicon (Inter Milan), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Miranda (São Paulo), Thiago Silva (Fluminense), Luisão (Benfica), Kléber (Santos), Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Gilberto Silva (Panathinaikos), Elano (Manchester City), Anderson (Manchester United), Josué (VfL Wolfsburg), Kaká (AC Milan), Diego (Werder Bremen), Mancini (Inter Milan), Alex Meschini (Internacional)
Forwards: Robinho (Manchester City), Luis Fabiano (Sevilla), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Adriano (Inter Milan).
Like his opposite number, Carlos Queiroz has also summoned his strongest possible squad although he insists that he is keen to experiment with his line-up.
Juventus midfielder Tiago has been recalled to the side after a 15-month absence, while defender Rolando and midfielder César Peixoto have been handed their first call ups. The only two surprise omissions are Inter Milan winger, Ricardo Quaresma and Benfica striker, Nuno Gomes.
Goalkeepers: Quim (Benfica), Eduardo (
Defenders: Jose Bosingwa (Chelsea), Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea), Pepe (Real Madrid), Bruno Alves (FC Porto), Fernando Meira (Galatasaray), Miguel (Valencia), Rolando (FC Porto).
Midfielders: César Peixoto (Braga), Deco (Chelsea), Raul Meireles (FC Porto), João Moutinho (Sporting Clube), Maniche (Atlético Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Tiago (Juventus), Simão Sabrosa (Atlético Madrid)
Forwards: Danny (
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Yes, it’s the battle of the wizards. And you’d be forgiven for thinking this is another instalment of the Harry Potter series. As usual, there’s always a sinful selection of superstars to choose from when
This will be only
The result will depend on how adventurous or how conservative Queiroz’s tactics are. Teams who fight fire with fire against Brazil rarely come out on top and it’s also worth remembering that Portugal have only ever won four times in their previous 17 meetings against the South Americans.