Back Brazil’s Samba feet to bamboozle Bafana Bafana
Brazil have never lost a senior international match against South Africa and Coral make them odds-on 2/9 favourites for victory in Johannesburg. Hulk scored the only goal when the sides last met in September 2012.
It is the return of another attacking option to Phil Scolari’s fold that will have Bafana Bafana concerned, however. Fred, who was top-scorer at the Confederations Cup last summer, has struggled with injury since, but now he is fit again a recall was always likely.
Back Fred – a player that has the knack of finishing chances his fellow forwards create – at even-money to announce his international comeback with a goal anytime, or at 4/1 to score first. Proof, as if proof were needed, comes in the fact he has netted 10 times in his last nine caps under Scolari.
The Samba Boys boss has also handed Bayern Munich wingback Rafinha and Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho chances to impress ahead of the World Cup on home soil. Scolari’s side are 3/1 favourites to lift the trophy for an unprecedented sixth time.
As Brazil have recently put five past Honduras and hit Australia for six, they are showing no mercy to nations of similar standing that have qualified for the tournament finals. Imagine what they could do to South Africa here. Odds of 11/4 on their total goals being over 3.5 and 7/1 on over 4.5 are definitely worth considering.
Ironically, an injury to another Premier League player, in Liverpool destroyer Lucas Leiva, opened the door to Capital One Cup winner Fernandinho. Largely ignored at international level when he played for wealthy Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk, Scolari has seen him grow into a formidable partnership with Yaya Toure at the Etihad.
Fernandinho is 11/2 to net against South Africa. Rafinha, meanwhile, who appears to be competing with former City player Maicon to be cover behind Dani Alves, is an 8/1 shot to mark his second cap by scoring.
Big Phil’s boys have kept four clean sheets on the last six legs of their ‘World Tour’. Brazil are thus odds-on at 17/20 to shut South Africa out. A win to nil for the Samba Boys is slightly more attractive at 21/20.
Punters cannot simply expect Bafana Bafana to roll over and die here, however. Before hosting an African Nations Championship with squads made up entirely of domestic players, South Africa beat reigning World and European champions Spain.
Bernard Parker, once a flop signed by Steve McClaren when he was in charge of Dutch Eredivisie outfit Twente, scored the winner at Soccer City. Back him at 7/2 for a goal anytime and a tempting 10/1 to either score first or last.
Another 1-0 upset victory for Bafana Bafana here is hardly likely at 40/1, but the same was said in the build-up to the Spain game in November. What makes international football so interesting is comparing the two squads.
While Brazil have established Premier League stars like Chelsea quartet Willian, Ramires, Oscar and David Luiz, South Africa call on Championship players. Dean Furman of Doncaster Rovers should anchor midfield and Bournemouth frontman Tokelo Rantie (also 7/2 to score anytime) provides an alternative option to Parker up front.
Odds of 11/1 on a home win for Bafana Bafana are entirely justified on this basis alone but, coming off the back of raising their game and getting that great result against Spain, a draw at 5/1 is certainly possible if not probable.