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Croatia's win over Argentina worries Brazil coach

Croatia's victory over Argentina is a timely warning for Brazil, according to coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.

india Updated: Mar 02, 2006 22:48 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

Croatia's victory over Argentina is a timely warning for Brazil, according to coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.

Wednesday's 3-2 win for Croatia in Basel, Switzerland, shows defending champion Brazil will have to be careful to avoid an early upset at the World Cup in Germany, Parreira told the Brazilian Soccer Confederation's Web site.

The record five-time champions will open their title defense June 13 against Croatia before playing Australia and Japan in Group F of the June 9-July 9 tournament.

"Of course Brazil have the condition to impose their style and advance," Parreira said on Wednesday.

"But I don't agree when people say the group is easy. It's actually a tricky group."

Croatia got the win against Argentina— Brazil's biggest rival and another serious contender for the World Cup— on a header by midfielder Dario Simic in second-half injury time.

Jairo Leal, one of Parreira's assistants, watched the friendly and the Brazilian confederation said Parreira has already spoken with Leal to discuss it.

Brazil and Croatia tied their only two meetings, including last year's 1-1 friendly draw.

Also Wednesday, Brazil overcame harsh weather in Moscow to beat Russia 1-0 on a goal by striker Ronaldo.

The match was played in temperatures as low as minus-10 degrees Celsius (18 Fahrenheit).

Brazilian media said the national team had a lackluster performance, but recognized that the weather was a factor. "Cold weather punishes Brazil," said the O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper.

It was the team's last match before Parreira is scheduled to name his final World Cup squad. The five-time champion will still play another friendly— against New Zealand— before the tournament begins.

Brazil were without five injured players who are likely to make it to the World Cup— goalkeepers Dida and Julio Cesar, defenders Roque Junior and Cafu, and Ronaldinho.

Goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni— who only played because his teammates were injured— made the most of his chance as a starter. His solid performance helped Brazil clinch the victory, and kept alive his hopes of grabbing a spot among the 23 players who will travel to Germany.

"We all gave our best, but only 23 will make it," Ceni said. "Thankfully we have a very competent person making the final decision."

First Published: Mar 02, 2006 22:48 IST