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This blog reflects on soccer qua football all over the world. The blog has a specific investment in attractive, attacking football and, as such, focuses on Brazil, the most emphatic historical exponent of the beautiful game.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Brazil v. Netherlands 2011 Friendly: A Preview

Although Brazil play Netherlands in an international friendly on June 4 in Goiania, Brazil, football fans should understand this is anything but a friendly, particularly from Brazil's point of view. The match stakes a tremendous amount of professional pride for the Brazilian national team given their humiliating 2-1 loss to the Dutch in the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals last summer. Furthermore, Mano Menezes has yet to demonstrate his ability to win big matches against the best teams in the world. With players like Arjen Robben, Dirk Kuyt and Robin van Persie, the Netherlands rank well within the orbit of France and Argentina, the two teams that handed Mano his only losses as coach of the Selecao. Expect Brazil to attack from the opening whistle and put the Dutch on the defensive through a bevy of early scoring opportunities and conversions. Mano is likely to play one of two formations:

4-3-3: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Lucio, Thiago Silva and Andre Santos in defense, Lucas, Ramires and Elias in midfield, and Robinho, Neymar and Leandro Damiao up front.
4-4-2: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Lucio, Thiago Silva and Andre Santos in defense, Lucas, Ramires, Elias and Elano in midfield, with Neymar and Robinho up front.

Mano has recently preferred a 4-4-2 so that's we should expect, although everyone would like to see a 4-3-3 or even a 4-2-4 at some point. What's clear is that the back four and Lucas and Ramires are basically pencilled into the starting line-up. From there on, it's anyone's guess although Mano has favored Elias in the past and is likely to leverage the understanding between Elano and Neymar that has carried Santos to the Copa Libertadores final. To win convincingly, Mano needs to win by more than a one goal margin so he will somehow have to open the floodgates for the likes of Neymar, Robinho and Elano to put the ball in the back of the net. In recent interviews, Mano notes that Dani Alves functions as another attacker, so one option would be to pin down Andre Santos and let Alves attack down the right flank to complement Neymar on the far left. Bottom line: expect Brazil to go all out for a convincing win, beginning in the first half, particularly given that the match is played at home.

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