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Brazil v England preview

November 14th, 2009
Fabio Capello

Fabio Capello

A trip to Doha to face Brazil in an international friendly may seem like the height of glamour to the average punter, a source of irritation to a Premier League manager, but for Fabio Capello it may just provide a telling indicator of how far his England side have come under his stewardship.

The artificial nature of any friendly means there will be neither cigars smoked nor tears shed upon victory or defeat, but the disciplinarian Italian will nonetheless demand total focus from his players – at least those still standing.

England’s ranks have been decimated to such a point he may just have packed his own boots, his English is now good enough to pass for a native, as only two of his preferred starting XI may be available.

Midfielder Gareth Barry and talisman Wayne Rooney stand tall amongst the walking wounded, as Frank Lampard became the latest casualty on Thursday as he picked up a thigh injury that could keep him out for two to three weeks.

Chelsea are unlikely to take the news well, given question marks were raised prior to the game over whether a seven hour flight to participate in a friendly was wise at such a frenetic stage of the season domestically.

Their frustration is only likely to be exacerbated with news of an ankle injury picked up by captain John Terry on Friday morning that makes him a doubt too.

Capello’s options in midfield were already decimated as Steven Gerrard, Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott are absentees through injury, while David Beckham’s club commitments prohibit his involvement.

Of those on the periphery of Capello’s thinking it could be Michael Carrick that benefits most as he will likely be handed opportunity to atone for his lethargic display against Ukraine in October.

Having called up Tom Huddlestone, to some surprise, it seems nailed on the in-form Tottenham ‘quarterback’ will figure at some stage, while Spurs team-mate Jermaine Jenas is also pressing for inclusion.

Peter Crouch’s impressive international goalscoring record will be rewarded with another start alongside Rooney – who has himself bagged 11 goals in his last 11 internationals – with the recalled Darren Bent and Jermain Defoe champing-at-the-bit for a cameo off the bench.

Matthew Upson appears to be next in line to partner Terry, if fit, in the absence of Ferdinand, while the out-of-sorts Wayne Bridge or Stephen Warnock will start at left-back to deputise for the injured Ashley Cole.

At right-back Wes Brown will be given the opportunity to show he has fully recovered from long-term injury as Glen Johnson is out and Luke Young turned down the chance to resurrect his international career earlier this week.

Brazil, like England, cruised to qualification for South Africa 2010. While South American rivals Argentina belly-flopped their way to the World Cup, Dunga’s Brazil glided into qualification like a seasoned diver.

Dunga’s Brazil initially drew some criticism for playing in a style more pragmatic than that expected from those in yellow, but there is now a sense they have achieved a nice fit between attack and defence.

A familiar face in Brazil’s side of late is Lucas Leiva, who this week has spoken of England’s genuine emergence as a side to be reckoned with on the world stage, but there will be no place for Liverpool team-mate Fabio Aurelio, who has pulled out with a muscle injury.

Whether Manchester City’s Robinho will play any part has been the subject of heated conjecture. The playmaker, linked with a January move to Barcelona, may figure on Saturday despite City’s strong wishes to the contrary.

City agreed to allow Robinho to make the short trip from their training camp in Abu Dhabi to Doha to allow Brazil’s medical staff to assess his fitness, but they never envisaged he was in line to play any part at the weekend.

“We know City want him with them but the situation for us is that we have only three games before the World Cup so we need Robinho,” said team spokesman Rodrigo Paiva.

“We don’t need permission for City to play him.”

All of Dunga’s squad are based in Europe, with the likes of Kaka, Daniel Alves and Luis Fabiano all likely to cause England’s makeshift backline problems.

Porto striker Hulk could make his debut after receiving his first international call-up but there is there is no place for AC Milan pair Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato.

http://www.skysports.com


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