Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil continue their preparations for next year’s World Cup with a meeting with his former side Portugal in Foxborough, Mass. on Tuesday. After leading the Selecao to glory in the 2002 World Cup, Scolari went to take over the European side and guided them to runners-up on home soil at Euro 2004.
While the disappointment of a loss to Greece in the final was forgiven as he went onto enjoy a largely successful five years in charge, the 64-year-old will need no reminding that there will be no such understanding if Brazil fail to lift the trophy in front of their own fans.
After taking over Brazil for a second time late last year, there has been plenty of progress made toward their ultimate goal. The Confederations Cup triumph, in particular, restored the country’s place as a team that can match the very best. While a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland last month was a disappointment, Scolari is happy that his side returned to their best in a 6-0 drubbing of Australia in Brasilia on Friday.
"The 6-0 was marvelous,” he said, according to the Brazilian Football Confederation website. “We played at a very good rhythm, it didn't look like a friendly, the team performed as in the Confederations Cup. It's in this shape that we're going to Boston to play against Portugal."
Atletico Mineiro striker Jo, after impressive cameos at the Confederations Cup, further staked his place to be involved next year, with two goals against Australia. Neymar, still finding his feet at Barcelona, also found the net.
Disappointingly, there will not be an enticing appetizer to this season’s Clasicos, with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo ruled out of the match. The forward is still suffering from tendonitis after scoring a superb and potentially vital hat-trick on Friday to lead Portugal to a come-from-behind victory over Northern Ireland in World Cup qualifying.
The result kept Portugal in the running for top spot in their group, but with Russia’s win over Israel on Tuesday, Paulo Bento’s side are staring at the possibility of needing a playoff to make it to Brazil in 2014.
The two sides will be meeting for the 19th time, with Portugal only having come out on top on three occasions, two of which were under the charge of Scolari.
G: Julio Cesar
D: Maicon, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo
M: Paulinho, Luiz Gustavo
Ramires, Oscar, Neymar
G: Rui Patricio
D: Pereira, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Coentrao
M: Veloso, Meireles
Vieirinha, Moutinho, Nani
Prediction: Portugal were pushed to the limit in a hotly contested clash with Northern Ireland, in which three players were sent off, just four days ago. Having made the trip across the Atlantic, and without their talisman, they are unlikely to be at their peak. The match also means more for Brazil, which has no competitive fixtures and has to make every match count ahead of the World Cup. Scolari’s men should do that in Foxborough with a fairly comfortable win.
Brazil 2-0 Portugal
Where to watch: The international friendly will kick-off from Gillette Stadium at 9 p.m. ET. A live stream will be provided by beIN Sport Play.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.