Brazil’s final match in Group G will be against Portugal on June 25th in Durban.
Portugal are the classic example of a team that’s outstanding on paper, but very average in practice. This is a team with either the best or second best player in the world in its starting XI depending on who you talk to. They are managed by former Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz. Queiroz has been criticized as not being up to the head managing task after his currents struggles, coupled with a failed stint at Real Madrid in 2003.
Despite having a squad filled with world-renowned players from top-class Champions League teams, the main man being Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, qualifying was a huge struggle for them. They backed into this World Cup after beating Bosnia in the playoff round of European qualifying. They snuck into the playoff spot by finishing one point ahead of Sweden in Europe’s Group 1. This group also included Malta, Hungary, Denmark, and Albania.
Maicon was on the score sheet the last time these sides met
Interestingly, the conveyer belt of forward talent which has been churned out of the country in recent years has not yielded a world class striker. As a result, they generally play with one pure forward up top, which will most likely to be Brazilian born Sporting Lisbon striker Liédson. They scored seventeen goals and allowed only five during qualifying. Without their two 4-0 wins over Malta, the Portuguese only managed a measly nine goals in ten matches. Another extremely worrying statistic is that Ronaldo, despite enjoying a remarkable campaign in Madrid, didn’t manage a single goal or assist during qualification. If Portugal are to achieve their potential, Queiroz must get the best out of the formal United number 7.
Ronaldo will be the main threat for Brazil
Another problem facing Queiroz is the injury and subsequent removal from the squad of Manchester United winger Nani, who would have been a starter. Instead, he will be replaced in the line-up by Zenit St. Petersburg forward Danny, who has impressed in the warm-up matches, especially during the 3-0 win over Mozambique. Another friendly was a comfortable 3-1 victory over Cameroon, but prior to this was possibly the low point of Portugal’s underperforming run; a 0-0 draw with Cape Verde, currently ranked 114 in the world by FIFA, footballs world governing body.
In these two nations’ last encounter, Portugal travelled to Brasilia, and might have well not even boarded their plane across the Atlantic. Brazil absolutely crushed the Portuguese 6-2, with highlights being sensational goals from Elano and Maicon.
Something which may work in Portugal’s favour in this game however is that should Brazil win their first two games as expected, they may be tempted to rotate their XI entirely to rest the big names. Portugal, however, may well be still needing points to progress, and so may be more motivated and may put out a stronger team for the encounter.
Danny has established himself as a starter after some impressive performances
Portugal’s lack of goals will be a major concern for them coming into a game against Brazil, who have now gained a reputation as having an extremely well-organised and solid defence. Also, their main strength, in the pace of the wings, can be matched by the physicality of Brazil full-backs Michel Bastos and Maicon.
Prediction: You cannot count out a squad with this type of talent, no matter what the form says. However, Brazil do look a must stronger outfit, and they are expected to get something, despite playing a weaker side if they have won their first two matches. Brazil 1-1 Portugal.
Brazil Line-Up (possible, 4-2-2-2)
Doni; Daniel Alves, Thiago Silva, Luisao, Gilberto; Kleberson, Josué; Baptista, Ramires; Grafite, Nilmar
Portugal Line-Up (possible, 4-3-3)
Eduardo; Miguel, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Coentrão; Pedro Mendes, Raul Meireles, Deco; Ronaldo, Liédson, Danny
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