Third place and undefeated
Brazil host first place and undefeated Argentina in a Wednesday evening
qualifier at Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte. The Albiceleste are on top of
the South American World Cup Qualifying table with 11 points from five matches.
Brazil is in third place, with two points and Paraguay keeping the world
champions from first place. Argentina defeated Brazil 2-1 when the sides last
met. That was three years ago during 2002 World Cup Qualifying.
TEAM NEWS & RECENT FORM:
BRAZIL (Recent 5 Results: DWDDD)
Manager Carlos Alberto Parreira suffered a huge blow recently when Ronaldinho
was scratched with a thigh strain. Central defender Lucio, Luisao and reserve
goalkeeper Marcos also are among the "walking wounded."
The Auriverde are coming off a meaningless 0-0 draw with France in a FIFA
Centenary exhibition last week. Before that the selecao waxed Hungary 4-1 in
late April in Budapest. Luis Fabiano scored two goals and will replace
Ronaldinho in the attack against Argentina. Either Juan or Cris will fill the
void left by Lucio and partner with Roque Junior in central defense.
Despite being undefeated in qualifying, Brazil have been held to draws in their
last three encounters (Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru). In between the Paraguay and
Uruguay ties, the world champions also were held to a scoreless draw in Dublin
ARGENTINA (Recent 5 Results: WWDWW)
Marcelo Bielsa's list of missing players is worse than Parreira's. A combination
of injuries and suspensions leaves the South American table's first place side
without Juan Roman Riquelme, Andres D'Alessandro, Juan Sebastian Veron, Esteban
Cambiasso and Matias Almeyda. In addition Bielsa mysteriously left off Boca's
superman Carlos Tevez, whilst handing 19-year old Javier Mascherano of River
Plate his full debut against the world champions.
On the positive side Albiceleste supporters welcome back influential defender
Walter Samuel as well as the duo from Inter, Javier Zanetti and Cristian Gomez.
The trio were absent from March 30th's qualifying victory over Ecuador.
Argentina last played at the end of April, when they handed Morocco a 1-0 loss
in Casablanca. Their four prior matches all have been qualifiers, and the
matches produced victories over the aforementioned Ecuador, as well as Bolivia
and Venezuela. The lone blemish was a 1-1 draw with Colombia.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
BRAZIL – Kaka took the Serie A by storm this past season with AC Milan, and the
22-year old will be pulling strings in midfield for Brazil. There are many
reasons why the experts and the players themselves are so high on this youngster.
Argentina will hope they do not find out first-hand.
ARGENTINA – Walter Samuel returns from suspension to anchor the Albiceleste
defense. The new Real Madrid man will be crucial if Argentina are to come away
from the Mineirao stadium with a draw or even the full three points.
BRAZIL - Dida (GK); Cafu, Cris, Roque Junior, Roberto Carlos; Edmilson, Juninho
Pernambucano, Ze Roberto, Kaka; Ronaldo, Luis Fabiano
ARGENTINA - Pablo Cavallero (GK); Facundo Quiroga, Walter Samuel, Gabriel Heinze;
Javier Zanetti, Javier Mascherano, Juan Pablo Sorin, Pablo Aimar, Cristian
Gonzalez; Hernan Crespo, Cesar Delgado