Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Brazil Beat Zimbabwe in Pre-World Cup Friendly

The seleção endured a shaky start and some over-exuberant tackling to beat Zimbabwe 3-0 in Harare. Dunga fielded a strong line-up, with only Juan missing from the team likely to play North Korea on June 15th. It was Thiago Silva who got the nod over Luisão to partner Lúcio at the back. As had been practiced in training, Elano started as the (tucked-in) right sided midfielder; the Galatasaray man looks to have won his spot back from Ramires, who did so well in the Confederations Cup.

Kaká bursts past two Zimbabwe challengers.

Despite being clear underdogs, Zimbabwe started with some verve, and should have scored when Karuru blasted over from 8 yards. Brazil were slow in finding their stride, and matters weren't helped by some tough Zimbabwe tackling. Robinho and Kaká showed no ill effects after strong challenges, but Júlio César was less fortunate, and was substituted as a precaution. Heurelho Gomes took his place.

Brazil took the lead after 40 minutes thanks to an unstoppable free-kick from Michel Bastos. It was the (nominal) left-back's first goal for his country, and will certainly force his name into the World Cup dead-ball hat. Just three minutes later, Robinho doubled Brazil's lead, volleying home first time after a wonderful pass from Maicon.

The second half saw substitutions aplenty, with Daniel Alves, Luisão, Nilmar, Grafite, and Júlio Baptista all getting some game time. Energy and performance levels sagged a bit, but Brazil bagged a third late on after a glorious passage of play. Daniel Alves fed Júlio Baptista on the edge of the box, and received a clever flick back from the Roma man. Alves then selflessly squared for Elano who scored with the easiest of finishes.

Michel Bastos celebrates his stunning free-kick.

Overall, it was a job well done for Dunga's men, albeit one that hardly tested them. Things get even easier on Monday against Tanzania, and questions may well be raised about the worth of these games should Brazil underperform in South Africa. The Brazilian press reported that the seleção was paid handsomely to travel to play these two opponents, but at this stage, surely a stiff footballing challenge should have been prioritised over the filling of the CBF's coffers.

(Photo credits; (1) and (2) Ricardo Nogueira/Folhapress.)

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