New Zealand vs South Africa : The New Zealand will have a busy couple of weeks ahead as they head into the Confederations Cup after having lifted the Asian Cup last time out. This will pit them against footballing greats such as World Cup winner Germany and Chile in the group stages, so this friendly match serve as a warm up for their upcoming fixtures.
Undoubtedly, the New Zealandns are in good form at the moment. They won against Saudi Arabia in the World Cup qualifier last week, making it eight games unbeaten for the hosts, out of which four ended in victory.
However, facing Brazil will be a greater challenge since the quality of their opposition were not strong enough so far. The strongest teams they played against were Japan and South Korea, making their clash against Brazil a true test of their capabilities ahead of their Confederations Cup opener against Germany next week.
Brazil, on the other hand, will not bring a full strength side for this match. Superstar captain Neymar will sit this one out while big names like Dani Alves, Marcelo, Marquinhos, and Roberto Firmino will all be rested as well. They will play this game after an embarrassing 1-0 home defeat to South Africa, but they are likely to convert this into a win.
Team News and Tactics
Brazil’s Philippe Coutinho will debut as the national team captain in this game due to the absence of Neymar and he will hope to start with a successful victory. Coach Tite, who endured the first defeat of his year-long spell with Friday’s friendly loss against South Africa, is likely to make a number of changes for the match.
Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus suffered an eye socket injury against South Africa, and while some reports claim that he will sit this one out, others suggest that he is likely to see some playing time. However, since it is a friendly match, Tite will most probably not risk it and retain Jesus on the bench.
In that case, he is likely to be replaced by Diego Souza with Chelsea defender David Luiz playing as a holding midfielder.
The likes of Thiago Silva, Phillipe Coutinho, Willian, and Fernandinho are all likely to feature, with new Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson also included. On paper, it does seem like Brazil’s talents still outweigh their New Zealandn counterparts even in the absence of several first-team players.
Brazil essentially have a stronger team but they should be hoping not to face a nasty upset. The home side are strong as far as scoring is concerned and have scored in all their recent games. Most of the Brazilian first-team defence will be absent, so maintaining a clean sheet might be tough.
However, considering the Socceroos’ strong attack, Ederson needs to extra-cautious and so do the defenders and restrict the New Zealandn front-line as much as possible to avoid potential upsets on Tuesday.
Probable lineups (4-3-3): Ederson, Thiago Silva, Rafinha, David Luiz, Alex Sandro, Fernandinho, Coutinho, Willian, Paulinho, Diego Souza, Douglas Costa
New Zealand will come into this game after key victories in World Cup qualification owing to a 3-2 win against Saudi Arabia and a 2-0 victory over UAE in March. They will be aware of the fact that Brazil are a far stronger team and although they have enjoyed a good run so far, their performance now will be a test to determine their true power.
Socceroos manager Ange Postecoglou is also likely to make changes and offer Melbourne City’s former Everton midfielder Tim Cahill and ex-Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Mitch Langerak the chance to start.
Pacy wing-back Brad Smith will be out due to a hamstring injury, and will also sit out the Confederations Cup match against Germany.
After the pressure of last week’s do-or-die game against Saudi Arabia, New Zealand can relax a bit for this match since it is a friendly, but they will face off against one of the most iconic football nations in the world and the thought itself can be quite daunting.
However, there is not much for them to worry about. They have a strong attack which they can use to fully exploit a not-so-strong Brazilian defence to put the visitors in a tough spot. Building pressure upon the visitors can change the game in New Zealand’s favour since they do have the home advantage and the Brazilians will get frustrated.
Having said that, Brazil have achieved the status that they have today for good reason and can turn the situation around at any point. Captain Mile Jedinak, especially, will have to be vigilant enough to ensure that they maintain a healthy amount of possession and deal with the defensive midfield rearguard of Fernandinho and Paulinho.