England vs. Brazil: Setting Up the Tactical Battle Ahead at Wembley
Roy Hodgson's England face a monumental challenge on Wednesday—ruin Luiz Felipe Scolari's second debut as Brazil manager.
The Selecao visit Wembley as favourites against a depleted Three Lions' squad, but as always it's whoever game plans the best wins this tie.
England look pretty limited in what they can pull off here, as Jermain Defoe and Michael Carrick withdrew and Daniel Sturridge looks doubtful.
Brazil's lineup is also difficult to predict, but Rupert Fryer has the insight:
This is the XI that trained, and although its not 100 percent confirmed, it's a good start.
Let's take a look at the tactical battle and see how it might unfold.
With this being Scolari's first game back, tactics are up in the air. However, Brazilian football experts such as Paulo Freitas and B/R's own Chris Atkins believe he's opted for the 4-2-2-2 formation.
It's been a while since we've seen something like this on the international stage, and the magical quadrilateral will give people plenty to assess and talk about. It will be a loose form of it however, with the width provided partially by Neymar dropping out to the left and not solely on Adriano and Dani Alves.
Glancing at England's squad, there are plenty of things you can do with it. A back four is a certainty, while Steven Gerrard will very likely play in the deep regista role.
Hodgson will want the Jack Wilshere-Tom Cleverley combination to start clicking nice and early, so that could see Frank Lampard benched.
Gerrard vs. the 4-2-2-2
An intriguing battle between a packed Brazilian midfield and deep-lying playmaker Gerrard is set to take place.
Ramires and Paulinho are both huge threats surging forward from a deep position, and the physical battle between these two and the Wilshere/Cleverley duo could be an enthralling watch.
Ronaldinho and Oscar look set to play as dual No. 10s behind Luis Fabiano, and Oscar in particular will be happy to put the shift in and close down Gerrard's space.
The result could be the nullification of the Liverpool playmaker, and if that happens early it will be up to the manager to change things swiftly in order to avoid a large deficit on the scoreline.
The concerns for Brazil will be a perceived lack of width.
If Alves and Adriano lose the wide battle there's a problem, but when's the last time Alves lost a duel with his opposite number? He's been hemming wingers in for years now.
This formation should be fluid enough in attack—thanks to the solidity and security of the two holding players in front of the centre-halves—to spread itself and use the width on a natural basis.
Paulinho and Ramires have the game-breaking jobs here. Hodgson will opt for wingers, and one could well be the speedster Aaron Lennon. If he get beyond Adriano, there's no guarantee David Luiz can stop him one vs. one.
Luckily for the Selecao, their holding duo are the footballing equivalent of the Energizer bunny.
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