An international friendly in June may not be the ideal scenario for the players from Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, but England and Brazil come head-to-head for the second time in a matter of months this weekend following their encounter at Wembley back in February, in which the Three Lions secured a 2-1 win to give them their first victory over the Samba Boys in 23 years.
The match will be the first at the newly-renovated Maracana Stadium ahead of the World Cup finals next summer, and if England are to record successive victories over their hosts, they’ll need a better performance than the one at home to Ireland on Wednesday.
A Frank Lampard goal midway through the first-half, his 29th for his country, moving him one behind Alan Shearer, spared the blushes after Shane Long had given Giovanni Trapattoni’s men a surprise lead with a leaping header early on as the score ended 1-1.
The trip to Rio de Janeiro will be a different proposition altogether for Roy Hodgson’s men, giving them a glimpse of what to expect should they come through their World Cup qualifying group, in which they currently sit two points adrift of leaders Montenegro.
Brazil haven’t been in the best of form since Luiz Felipe Scolari’s return in November, picking up just one win in his first five games in charge, their last outing a 2-2 draw at home to Chile in April, which included a chorus of boos from their own supporters.
Despite this, Scolari’s men have been priced as favourites to secure the win in the showpiece event at 3/5, with a share of the spoils 31/10, while what would be a morale-boosting victory for England before their summer break can be backed at 4/1.
While it’s always billed as a big occasion when these two countries meet, the games between the sides are often tight encounters, just one goal separating them in four of the last six meetings, while 14 of the last 17 encounters have seen no more than two goals.
With this in mind, under 2.5 goals in the match looks a good price at 11/10.
A lot of attention will be on the Barcelona bound Neymar, whose transfer to the Catalan club was announced this week, and with three goals in his last two internationals, he’s worth considering at 7/2 to score first, or evens to notch a goal at anytime in the game.
Lampard is also a good shout in the goalscorers market having found the net in three of England’s last four matches, while he also bagged 15 league goals for Chelsea this term from midfield, and he’s an attractive 3/1 to pop up with a goal at any point in the game.
England have managed to find the net in their previous ten outings, their last blank coming in the European Championships defeat to Italy, while Brazil have scored in each of their last 14 matches, so backing both teams to score at 7/10 could prove fruitful.
While the draw in midweek for Hodgson’s men will have been seen as a disappointment amongst the camp, a similar result on Sunday would be met with approval, and despite a number of players missing, England have the quality to frustrate their opponents.
If they can keep things tight early on and get the home crowd’s back up, and with the pressure all on Brazil to open the renovated stadium with a win, a draw certainly isn’t out of the question, and the 1-1 at 13/2 could provide a decent return on your money.