England v Brazil Preview
As England’s forthcoming friendly against Brazil takes place as part of the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations, it seems fitting that the visitors have named one of the all-time greats in their 20-man squad to haunt the Three Lions again.
Former Barcelona and A.C. Milan midfielder Ronaldinho is a shock pick by new Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, and the Ronaldinho-Scolari combination is likely to give England fans nightmares of past misfortunes. The 32-year-old Atletico Mineiro ace broke the hearts of a nation when his free kick looped over the head of David Seaman in the quarter final of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, whilst Scolari has outmastered England in no fewer than three tournaments previously as Brazil coach in 2002, and later as Portugal coach at UEFA Euro 2004 and World Cup 2006.
Brazil, who will host the 2014 World Cup, have also named a number of younger talents for the future. Santos’ superstar Neymar is included in the squad, as are midfielders Lucas Moura of Paris Saint Germain and Chelsea’s Oscar.
Oscar is joined in the squad by his teammates David Luiz and Ramires, whilst Queens Park Rangers’ goalkeeper Julio Cesar is a surprise inclusion in the squad. The 33-year-old hasn’t enjoyed the best season in the Premier League, but Scolari has placed his faith in the former Inter Milan number 1.
The Brazil side won’t find the contest easy though, as Roy Hodgson has named a strong squad. Arsenal’s Theo Walcott is included, and he will be hoping to play in his preferred role as a centre forward. He’s scored 11 league goals this term, and could challenge the in-form Jermain Defoe and Daniel Sturridge for the number 9 shirt.
Walcott’s teammate Jack Wilshere has been included after making a remarkable recovery following a lengthy spell out through injury. He could challenge Frank Lampard for a place in the starting XI, although the veteran has been as reliable as ever at the heart of Chelsea’s midfield, whilst Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley have formed a solid partnership in Manchester United’s midfield.
Joe Hart is joined by youngster Jack Butland as Hodgson names only two goalkeepers due to injuries for Celtic’s Fraser Forster and Norwich’s John Ruddy.
There’s no place for Rio Ferdinand or John Terry in the English defence, although 32-year-old full back Ashley Cole could win his 100th cap in the friendly fixture.
With both Hodgson and Scolari naming a strong squad full of experience and young talent, the clash should be an exciting preview for next year’s World Cup and a difficult test for the Three Lions at Wembley.