Brazil v South Africa, Confederations Cup semi-final, June 25, 2009
This match looks to be over before it even begins. Having sneaked through the backdoor to reach the semi-finals, Bafana Bafana appear to have achieved their realistic aim of advancing past the group stages to give their home fans one last outing to toot their vuvuzelas. If South Africa were to beat Brazil on Thursday night (10/1) it would prove one of the most unlikely upsets for a long long time.
And yet, many South Africans will remember what it is like to beat the Samba Boys having triumphed 3-1 over Brazil in the group stages at the 2000 Sydney Olympics when, unsurprisingly, the South Americans were again overwhelming favourites. (South Africa are 100/1 to repeat the same scoreline.) Although Brazil eventually progressed at South Africa’s expense, the victory will no-doubt be relived prior to kick-off to prove that the impossible is nothing.
If the shock of the tournament is to pulled off then the combination between Steven Pienaar (8/1 to score), Teko Modise and Bernard Parker in the hosts’ attack needs to be flawless.
Modise, the Orlando Pirates attacker, has proved South Africa’s brightest creative force at the Confederations Cup. According to the Castrol Performance Analysis, Modise has completed six of seven attempted dribbles at the games – the most of the competition at large – as well as playing an integral part in both of South Africa’s two goals in the tournament, both of which came in the game against New Zealand and were scored by Parker.
However Parker’s inclusion against Brazil is still touch-and-go with the striker carrying a slight injury. Bafana are hopeful that Parker will be ready to face the Brazilians, but in his absence Katlego Mashego (4/1 to score) will likely be drafted into the attack alongside Terror Fanteni. One players definitely missing though is midfielder Macbeth Sibaya, who picked up a one-game suspension against Spain. The Kaizer Chiefs’ Siphiwe Tshabalala looks set to plug the gap in the centre of the park.
Turning to Brazil, as such overwhelming pre-match favourites there biggest concern will be to contain a side who will be playing with nothing to lose.
Compared to Bafana’s pitiful two goals scored in three group games, Brazil struck ten times on their way to the semi-finals, with the attacking quartet of Luis Fabiano (7/2 to score first), Kaka, Robinho and Ramires (7/2 to score) looking dynamic and on the top of their games.
Further, while the Brazilian backline was called into question after conceding three times to Egypt, since then theyÂ have recorded shut-outs against the United States and Italy as their defence had proving rock-solid. Of special note, Andre Santos has continually grown in stature at left-back while Felipe Melo (4/1 to score) has made the defensive midfield position next to Gilberto Silva his own in Africa. (South Africa are 4/6 to score no goals.)
If Brazil score against South Africa, which looks like an inevitability, then Bafana will have little to no chance of winning. All they can hope for in such circumstances will be that they can reasonably compete on the field as they look to avoid elimination by a cricket score.
Full match odds here.