Archie Thompson comments earnt the ire of Neymar. Image courtesy of Getty Images/Chung Sung-Jun
After a frustrating but ultimately successful World Cup qualifying campaign, Holger Osieck’s Socceroos start their preparation for next year’s tournament with the country’s biggest friendly in some time, taking on Brazil in the capital Brasilia. The Samba Boys come in to the match on the back of winning the Confederations Cup in front of their home fans, the event concluding with a memorable 3-0 win over current World Cup holder Spain in the final.
An understrength Australia struggled at the East Asian Cup, but with European-based players back on deck, Osieck has almost a full squad to choose from. Tim Cahill has been ruled out with an ankle injury while Luke Wilshere withdrew late in the week due to a knee problem.
The home side has its injury concerns, too, with fullback Dani Alves (knee) and striker Hulk (thigh) both out. Alves found the back of the net last time he was in national colours, but his late own goal allowed Switzerland to end Brazil’s 11-game winning streak with a 1-0 win in Basel last month.
Socceroo striker Archie Thompson tried to add some spice to the contest declaring Brazil superstar Neymar is “not as good as people say” and his national teammate Oscar is a better player. It’s a bold call from the Melbourne Victory marksman, given Neymar has earned comparisons to the likes of Pele and Lionel Messi.
Brazil has a more important friendly next Tuesday against Portugal in the neutral venue of Boston, so coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is unlikely to give most of his stars extended time on the pitch. Regardless, Australia has a massive job on its hands, with Asia’s best team, Japan, outclassed 3-0 by the Samba Boys in the Confederations Cup in June. Brazil tends to be a second half side, though; in seven of its last eight outings there has been one goal or less scored , but you have to go back 13 matches to find the last time they were behind at the break .
Osieck is likely to start with Matt McKay again in the left back role, while Mile Jedinak , who has impressed in the opening weeks of the EPL leading promoted Crystal Palace, is set to play in midfield with Mark Milligan . Josh Kennedy , who scored the game-winner against Iraq to put the Socceroos through to the World Cup, will most likely play a lone hand up forward.
Australia has lost four of its six clashes with Brazil. The only victory came in the 2001 Confederations Cup when a late Shaun Murphy goal handed the Socceroos a stunning 1-0 victory in the third-place playoff. That side had beaten France earlier in the tournament, and it’s fair to say the current outfit isn’t playing anywhere near that level of late. Expect the Socceroos to sit back and absorb pressure, as they did in the 1-1 away draw with Japan, and hope to hit on the counter utilising the pace of Tommy Oar and Robbie Kruse down the flanks.
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