2 June,20:00 BST
Brazil will host England at the newly revamped and historic Maracana stadium. The game was initially suspended due to a court order amidst safety concerns. But it will take place as per schedule after a duty judge revoked the decision, although England manager Roy Hodgson did confirm that ‘little bit of extra work to be done’ before the Stadium is fully ready for the World Cup.
This is the second friendly match between these two great footballing nations in a period of five months. The last encounter between these two sides took place at the Stamford Bridge back in February, when Frank Lampard scored the winner in the second half of the match.
England are coming into this match on the back of disappointing 1-1 draw with Ireland. Despite dominating possession, England failed to create too many clear cut chances and were wasteful in the final third of the pitch. Lampard was perhaps England’s best player on the pitch as the veteran scored the equaliser after Shane Long scored early on in the game.
Roy Hodgson came under a lot of criticism after the game. The England manager used a 4-4-2 formation against Ireland with Rooney and Sturridge upfront and Carrick and Lampard forming the two man midfield. Following the lacklustre performance or English international Gary Linekar tweeted –
“Don’t like England playing this system. So easy to play against. Brazil will thrash us if we line up the same way. Predictable and dated.
“Even though results haven’t been great, felt tactically England were maturing, but this is a step back to the dark ages of 2 lines of 4.
“It’s not about playing in straight lines, it’s about playing between the lines. Depth gives flexibility, passing alternatives, creativity.”
But the former Liverpool manager is expected to use different tactics against Brazil tonight. Danny Welbeck’s injury will force him to change back to a 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 formation, although he does have the options of using Theo Walcott upfront alongside Wayne Rooney. England will need to put up a better display against Brazil, as critics are already sceptical about their chances of making an impact in the upcoming world cup – today’s match against Brazil is an wonderful opportunity to silence those critics.
Brazil, like England, are under tremendous pressure to perform as well. The Canarinha have come under increased criticism at home as they have failed to stamp their authority in recent games, despite boasting a hugely talented squad. Their 4-0 victory at the start of July, is their only win in the last six matches.
They are coming into this game on the back of a 2-2 draw with Chile at home. Marco Gonzalez gave the away team an early lead, but Rever and Neymar scored on either side of the half-time to give them the lead. But Brazil’s defensive vulnerabilities were exposed once again as Vargas scored in the 63rd minute and drew level.
Being the host nation for the World Cup, Brazil will carry a lot of expectations on their shoulder. But despite all the talents, the squad is relatively inexperienced – something which has been exploited by opponents recently. Manager Luiz Felipe Scholari will hope that his side can better the performance the put up on display last time they faced England. They would also look towards Neymar, who recently completed his much talked about move to Barcelona, to provide some inspiration in this game.
Luiz Felipe Scholari doesn’t have any major injury concerns to deal with at the moment. Marcelo is expected to be back in the starting line-up, with Luiz and Thiago Silva partnering each other in the center of the defence.
Scholari has deployed a very attacking and fluid 4-2-2 formation recently. Neymar and Damiao will start upfront, with the Barcelona forward in a free role. Oscar will be the playmaker in behind the front two, with Lucas Moura making his trademark runs towards the box from the midfield, the PSG man is also capable of running down the channels. Fernando and Paulinho will form the shield in front of the defence.
Expected Starting Line-up – Julio Cesar (GK); Marcelo, Luiz, Silva, Alves; Paulinho, Fernando; Oscar, Moura; Neymar, Damiao.
England, unlike Brazil, have a lot of injury concerns to deal with ahead of this fixture. Danny Welbeck was the latest name to join the lost list of players like Gerrard, Wilshere, Cleverley, Carroll, Walker and Sturridge at the side-lines.
This means Roy Hodgson is likely to field a 4-3-3 formation, instead of his favoured 4-4-2. Wayne Rooney will lead the line upfront, with Theo Walcott and James Milner on either side of the wings. Lampard, Jones and Carrick are expected to form a three man midfield, with the Chelsea man in a more attacking role.
Milner’s inclusion would mean that England can press upfront as he has immaculate work-rate and very good defensively. Walcott will be the more attacking of the two wingers, which means the Arsenal man will also drift infield in more central position alongside Rooney.
Expected Starting Line-up – Hart (GK); Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Cole; Jones, Carrick, Lampard; Walcott, Rooney, Miler;
Brazil 2-1 England
England might have got the better of Brazil in the last encounter, but they might be too strong for the Three Lions at home. Brazil are expected to dominate possession in this game, with England looking to hurt them on the counter-attack, a tactics which they have used a lot in the Hodgson era. Expect Brazil to sneak this by an one goal margin.