The Wembley crowd will be expecting an entertaining encounter when England host Brazil in a Friendly on Tuesday (20:00 GMT, live on ITV).
The teams last met in a pair of friendlies in 2013, with England winning 2-1 at Wembley and the shares spoiled in a 2-2 draw in the return in Rio de Janeiro. In total, they have met 25 times since their first meeting in 1956, with Brazil notching 11 wins to England’s four.
A number of pull-outs, including Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling, have forced England coach Gareth Southgate to take a youthful approach to this international break. His starting XI in the credible 0-0 draw at home to Germany on Friday featured three debutants: Jordan Pickford, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham.
Pickford acquitted himself very well between the sticks, making a particularly impressive save to deny Timo Werner during the first half, while Loftus-Cheek showed signs of promise in the number 10 role, especially once he grew into the game after the break. Afterwards, Southgate was effusive in his praise of the Crystal Palace midfielder. Abraham was a willing worker and runner but was a little loose in some of his offensive actions.
In addition to those debuting starters, Joe Gomez and Jack Cork also came off the bench to earn their first caps.
The tempo was high early on, with Germany attacking more incisively, but eventually settled down into more of an exhibition rhythm. England were quite often laborious in moving the ball forward through midfield, although did have some success with more direct passes into the channels. The impression is that they still need to find complementary partners for Eric Dier in the centre of the park.
Given the absence of some of the more established members of the squad, a degree of disjointedness was perhaps to be expected and the result was good considering just how comfortable Germany are in their approach. But it is telling that Southgate still seems to be scratching around for solutions with just seven months to go until the World Cup.
Brazil are much better set. It is easy to rattle off the large majority of coach Tite’s preferred starting XI and his work in the build up to Russia 2018 is primarily based around finding alternatives in terms of personnel and systems. He is also cognisant of the need to temper expectations to avoid a repeat of the over-confidence that has plagued Brazil’s preparations for other recent World Cups.
In the first of their two fixtures this international break, his side recorded a routine 3-1 win against Japan. Neymar, Marcelo and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus scored the goals to secure a result that was never in doubt once Neymar converted from the penalty spot early on. The Paris Saint-Germain forward could even afford to see a second penalty saved.
The match served as an opportunity for experimentation. As expected, Casemiro and Fernandinho played together in midfield, and they did a good job. Giuliano performed solidly to further stake his claim as an adaptable option in midfield or further forward, while Manchester City’s Danilo probably edged ahead of Fagner in the running to be the back-up right-back.
It will be interesting to see to what degree Tite continues to trial new options on Tuesday. England are the first European opposition Brazil have faced since he took charge last June and he may decide to go with a strong starting XI in order to use the match as a yardstick of his side’s quality. They cruised through qualification in South America but the general level there was lower than it normally is.
After a relatively promising performance against Germany, England come into the match with nothing to fear. Although it must be noted that Brazil are likely to be a bit more aggressive in asserting themselves as they seek to put down a marker ahead of next year’s World Cup. They have sufficient collective and individual ability to cause England problems and can be expected to emerge victorious in what will likely be quite an open match.
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