Brazil and Portugal is a rivalry match, at least for the fans. The two nations share a colonial history, a language and even players. Three nationalized Brazilians – Deco, Pepe and Liedson – play for the Portuguese. Portugal have a three-point lead and a +9 advantage in goal difference over Ivory Coast. Barring an apocalyptic loss to Brazil, the Portuguese will advance. The concern is who wins the group, and who avoids facing Spain in the second round. There’s no guarantee it will be the same team.
Portugal thumped North Korea 7-0. Was this a ketchup bottle scenario where Portugal finally came good or did the Dear Leader order the North Koreans to play more expansively? The six different goal scorers for Portugal suggest a tactical breakdown, but, regardless of merit, it’s a psychological relief. Ronaldo is obviously the key player. Though, if Meireles makes the runs forward Deco was not and Fabio Coentrao continues to be Portugal’s Maicon facsimile, Portugal will be far more potent.
Dunga may focus Brazil on getting a clean sheet today. Expected to be impregnable, they slipped in the first two games. They will need better discipline in the second round.
Both sides are fielding mostly full-strength elevens. Brazil has reshuffled due to Kaka’s suspension and Elano’s injury. Nilmar, Dani Alves and Julio “The Beast” Baptista will get a run out. Brazil is 9-2-0 with Baptista in the Starting Eleven under Dunga.
Brazil destroyed Portugal 6-2 in Sept. 2008. Brazil has lost just one of their last 28 matches, against Bolivia at extreme altitude. Opponents have defeated Brazil once in 32 group stage matches since 1966.
[Photo via Getty]
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