DURBAN, June 24 (Reuters) - Pride not pragmatism will be the
watchword when soccer powerhouses Brazil and Portugal meet in a
mouthwatering World Cup clash on Friday to decide the
winners of Group G.
Although whoever tops the group could meet Spain in the
second round, any suggestion that either side might connive to
avoid the European champions has received short shrift.
"In Brazilian national football our duty is to win every
game," defender Lucio said on Wednesday. "We play for the honour
of the Brazilian shirt and the Brazilian public. We don't pick
Brazil coach Dunga does not like to meddle with his team but
will have to replace playmaker Kaka, who is suspended after his
red card in Sunday's 3-1 win over Ivory Coast.
Julio Baptista or Dani Alves are likely to step into
midfield, where another change might be needed after Elano was
on the wrong end of a dreadful tackle on Sunday.
Unlike the Brazilians, who have two wins, the Portuguese
could still mathematically be overhauled by the Ivorians for a
last 16 spot despite Monday's 7-0 drubbing of North Korea.
That is highly unlikely given the nine-goal swing that would
be required for Ivory Coast to catch Portugal assuming they beat
North Korea and the Portuguese lose to Brazil.
Any thoughts of Portugal playing for the draw that would
guarantee their progress will, however, be tempered by the
memory of the 6-2 thrashing they got in their last meeting with
the five-times world champions in a 2008 friendly.
"It was a big defeat for us and now have chance to beat
them," Portugal playmaker Tiago said.
"It's not revenge, we are two great teams in a World Cup.
Both teams want to go through and want to win the game. So it's
not revenge, just a game to play."
Thrashing North Korea on Monday transformed Portugal's World
Cup prospects after an opening draw with Ivory Coast and coach
Carlos Queiroz is likely to start with the same lineup.
Deco, one of three Brazilian-born players in the Portuguese
squad, might offer Queiroz an extra option if he has recovered
from a hip injury but Tiago's fine form should secure his place
after he scored twice against the North Koreans.
Another boost in Cape Town was Cristiano Ronaldo breaking a
two-year goal drought in competitive internationals, admittedly
with the rather fortunate sixth goal, which team mate Ricardo
Carvalho thinks might be significant.
"He was a little bit disappointed because he wants to score
in every game," said the defender. "It's important for him to
score and for us as well because the more confidence he gets,
the better for us."
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