Battle of the reserves as Brazil take on England

Brazil v England, International friendly, November 14, 2009

Brazil 5/4; Draw 23/10; England 21/10

This classic international fixture has produced some memorable moments. Gordon Banks’ wonder save from Pele in 1970, John Barnes’ slalom goal in the Maracana in 1984 and Ronaldinho lobbing David Seaman in 2006 all spring to mind. This match is unlikely to produce anything spectacular but should give us some guide as to how both teams will fare at the World Cup in just eight months time.

With Fabio Capello dealing with a host of injuries (no Gerrard, Lampard, Heskey and Ashley Cole), and Dunga only selecting players that ply their trade outside Brazil, this is a great chance from some fringe players to press their claim for a place in South Africa.

Despite the fact he was culpable for three of Burnley’s goals last week and then publicly vilified by Alan Hansen on Match of the Day, Wayne Bridge could well start for England at left back. James Milner (11/2 to score) has also been tipped to start on the left wing and Jermain Defoe (8/1 to score first) is chomping at the bit to start up front alongside Wayne Rooney.

The England side will have to work hard to stop a Brazil team that under Dunga has established themselves as one of the favourites to lift the World Cup next summer. They may not play the swashbuckling football of their predecessors but they are effective as was proved as they finished top of South American qualifying.

Benfica defender Luisao pulled out of the Brazil squad earlier this week but most of the big name players, bar Robinho who is close to a return with Manchester City, should illustrate the talent at Dunga’s disposal.

Luis Fabiano (20/10 to score & Brazil win) is the undoubted danger man for John Terry and co to keep an eye on. The Sevilla striker has a great record at international level and has already scored 11 goals for Brazil in 2009, in as many matches. Backed up by the likes of Kaka (12/1 to score a brace), Ramires and marauding right back Maicon, this will be a major test for England.

Like England, Dunga will likely field some fringe players looking to break into the World Cup squad. Porto’s brilliantly named striker Hulk (7/4 to score) could play as could exciting left winger Michel Bastos (7/2 to score) and Liverpool’s Fabio Aurelio.

With it being a friendly in Doha, there are unlikely to be a hatful of goals scored, especially with both managers likely to test out formation and personnel. For England it will be difficult to score past a strong defence, well protected in midfield and with Julio Cesar in goal, one of the best in the world.

One potential match winner for the Three Lions is Peter Crouch (7/1 to score last), fresh from scoring a brace in his last England performance against Belarus. After a fine qualifying campaign Don Fabio will be hoping to continue the momentum, but this Brazil side are a tough nut to crack and it may take a moment of inspiration to break down what is probably the best defence in international football.

101gg predicts: Brazil 1 – England 1 (5/1)

Brazil 5/4; Draw 23/10; England 21/10

Full match odds here.


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