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Brazil vs England preview

First, the still warm glow fans of a certain age feel when recalling the last time England played Brazil away and specifically the moment John Barnes slalomed through the Brazilian defence to score the opener in a 2-0 win.

Second, the fact that England also beat Brazil the last time they played them at home, 2-1 at Wembley in February.

And thirdly, England are ranked seventh in the world, a division in front of the Samba Boys, currently languishing in 19th place.

Right, now for a reality check and sound reasons why Brazil are a good bet to win at 4/7 with Coral.

Barnes’s never-to-be-forgotten wonder-goal (also in a friendly, by the way) was 29 years ago and Brazil’s lowly ranking is mainly to do with them not having played many teams of note in a period when they have, as hosts, automatically qualified for the 2014 World Cup.

Yes, England did beat Brazil at Wembley and it was a creditable achievement, but Luiz Felipe Scolari’s boys are now moving through the gears as their big year approaches and we can expect to see a more fluent and urgent side now.

Not that everything in Brazil’s garden is lovely at the moment. Their demanding fans have responded in typical fashion to some underwhelming performances – even their darling Neymar, now on his way to Barcelona, has not been immune from criticism.

These days we know all about many of the Brazilian names, including, of course those plying their trade in the Premier League, like David Luiz, Oscar and Ramires (all Chelsea) and Julio Cesar (QPR). And anyone who watches European matches on a regular basis will be very familiar with the likes of Dani Alves and Adriano (Barcelona), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Dante (Bayern Munich) and Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg).

The English players know them well too, of course, and for that reason will not be bewitched when they face them in Rio. A 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland in midweek hardly set the pulses racing, but this will be a different type of challenge altogether and England will probably rise to it.

So it could be a tight affair with maybe Theo Walcott, for old time’s sake, conjuring up some Barnes-like magic to score first for England (10/1 with Coral) before Brazil hit their straps and turn it around. Brazil to win 2-1 (15/2) looks a decent shout.

Written by Jon Freeman