It is perhaps fitting that Luiz Felipe Scolari will begin his second spell in charge of Brazil against a country with which he has such a storied history. Scolari has been responsible for three England defeats in successive major tournaments—with Brazil in the 2002 World Cup and as Portugal coach in Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup.
His most recent experience of England was not a happy one for Scolari, however. The 64-year-old’s time as a Premier League boss lasted just seven months before he became one of the many managers who can claim to have been shown the door by Roman Abramovich at Chelsea.
Scolari’s history with England extends beyond that, though, having turned down the chance to coach the Three Lions when he still had a contract with Portugal back in 2006.
Despite being fired from his role at Palmeiras, Scolari was chosen as the man to replace Mano Menezes and take on perhaps the most pressurized role in the history of international management—leading Brazil in a home World Cup.
Scolari’s first headline move was to bring back 32-year-old Ronaldinho for yet another shot at redemption with the Selecao. There is no place for Kaka, despite the Real Madrid man impressing in Brazil’s most recent friendlies under Menezes.
While for England the match kicks-off their Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations, the players will want to prove themselves against a team that still carries enormous glamor around the globe.
The friendly also acts as an important build-up for crucial matches that lie ahead in England’s stuttering qualification campaign. Next month England travel to Montenegro, who currently top their group by two points. A positive result is likely to be required to avoid slipping into an unwanted playoff.
Manager Roy Hodgson has already confirmed that Ashley Cole will start the match to join a list of seven players with 100 appearances for England. The left-back has not always received the greatest reception from England fans, but both Hodgson and captain Steven Gerrard have said that Cole deserves his place alongside Billy Wright, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Peter Shilton, David Beckham and Gerrard himself.
“He deserves to be on the list,” said Gerrard, according to the FA’s website.
"If I look at players throughout my career he has been the most consistent players in an England shirt and at times has proved he is one of the best left-backs in the world."
D: Johnson, Jagielka, Lescott, Cole
M: Gerrard, Wilshere
Walcott, Cleverley, Milner
D: Alves, Luiz, Dante, Adriano
M: Ramires, Paulinho, Oscar
Prediction: There is much to be excited and intrigued by in this contest. For England, it is a first chance to see Jack Wilshere back for the national team having returned to his best impressively fast with Arsenal. Wilshere’s ability to form a strong partnership with Gerrard could be crucial to England’s hopes going forward to the next World Cup.
Scolari has had little time to work with his players, but there is a more experienced look to the side than under Menezes. Ronaldinho needs to repay his coach’s faith and form a profitable creative relationship with Neymar behind an orthodox striker of either Fred or Luis Fabiano.
For the first 60 minutes, before substitutions inevitably kick in, the match should be keenly contested. Theo Walcott’s pace could be a real threat against the attack-minded Adriano, while on the other side Neymar’s abundant abilities could give the similarly-offensive Glen Johnson problems.
But as often transpires in friendlies, by the end, both teams may not be too disappointed to take a draw.
England 1-1 Brazil
Where to watch: The international friendly will kick-off from Wembley at 2.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel. An online stream will be provided by Fox Soccer 2Go from 5 p.m.