Clash of the continents
Brazil coach Dunga faces his former mentor Sven-Goran Eriksson on the touchline when the five-times world champions meet Ivory Coast in a mouthwatering World Cup Group G clash at Soccer City on Sunday.sports Updated: Jun 19, 2010 23:25 IST
Brazil coach Dunga faces his former mentor Sven-Goran Eriksson on the touchline when the five-times world champions meet Ivory Coast in a mouthwatering World Cup Group G clash at Soccer City on Sunday.
Former England and Mexico coach Eriksson, now in charge of the West Africans, was Dunga's coach for a season at Fiorentina in 1988-89 and said recently that even then he could see that Dunga, 25 at the time, was leadership material.
“I know the manager very well, I brought him to Fiorentina and had him there for a year,” said the Swede.
“Even as a player, he knew tactically everything about football. He's one of the best footballers I ever had, he was fantastic, defending, attacking, he knew exactly everything.
“I'm not surprised that they (Ivory Coast) are extremely well-organised, it's not easy to score a goal against them,” he said, adding that determination ran through Dunga's veins.
The match will also see Brazil defender Lucio renew his rivalry with Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba, who will play with a FIFA-approved cast to protect his fractured elbow.
They faced each other when Lucio's Inter Milan knocked Chelsea out of last season's Champions League, with Drogba's frustration boiling over when he was sent off late in the second leg.
Lucio, who did not give Drogba much of a look-in, later complained the Ivorian had tried to intimidate him, prompting an angry exchange between the two in the second game.
“Drogba didn't do much in the first leg because Lucio played a marvellous game and he only had a few chances in the second,” said Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who also plays for Inter.
“Drogba shoots well and heads well and he has a special way of hitting the ball, so you have to pay special attention.”
Brazil, who struggled against a packed North Korean defence on Tuesday before finally winning 2-1, said they hoped the Africans — needing points after a goalless draw against Portugal in their opener — would play a more open game. “It's always more difficult when the other team plays with 10 at the back. But I think Ivory Coast will come out and try and play,” said midfielder Julio Baptista.
Brazil will be playing their sixth match against African opposition at the World Cup, having won their previous five — against Zaire (1974), Algeria (1986), Cameroon (1994), Morocco (1998) and Ghana (2006) — without conceding a single goal.
Brazil sit on top of Group G. The table is likely to look very different after Round 2, if Brazil lose or are held to a draw and Portugal win against North Korea which is the probable outcome.
Brazil might have to opt to be tough defensively. Ivory Coast are athletic, quick and physical, something that might hurt the Brazilians. The midfield will be heavily relied upon and wing-play might be one of the few ways to break down a solid defence.
The Melo-Bastos-Kaka triumvirate will assume importance as the midfield control will determine their ability to score.
After the draw against Portugal, Ivory Coast are in second place with a point along with the Portuguese. The Ivorians need to win or draw the game against Brazil as Portugal look poised to pick up three points against north Korea. In that case their final group game becomes an easier task.
They will not change much apart from making sure that midfield remains tight. With Drogba set to start, Ivory Coast are not
a weaker side and considering them inferior could spell trouble for Brazil.
Drogba will look to prove himself as a world-class player in this tournament.