Dunga and Neymar make Brazil returns, Falcao fit for Colombia
Recent World Cup hosts Brazil have an excellent record against Colombia, and Coral make them 21/20 favourites for victory, but the Samba Boys lost a lot of friends for the ‘dirty game’ they played against the Coffee Growers in July.
In contrast, Colombia (5/2) were many neutrals’ darlings at the finals. Without star striker Radamel Falcao then, he has since recovered from a serious knee injury and the Manchester United loan acquisition is 5/4 to net on his international return anytime.
Jose Pekerman has relied on the men that stepped up in Falcao’s absence, however, to net in the last two meetings between the Coffee Growers and Brazil. Colombia are chasing a first win against the Samba Boys since 1991, while a draw is priced at 12/5.
Falcao’s former Monaco teammate James Rodriguez earned a big money move to Real Madrid off the back of six World Cup goals, which got him the Golden Boot, and is 11/2 to score last again. Fiorentina wideman Juan Cuadrado, meanwhile, was linked with the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and United over the summer, but remains in Serie A with the Florentine outfit. He is 5/1 to net in this match.
Brazil’s World Cup-winning captain from 1994, Dunga, has returned as national boss for a second spell following the forced resignation of Phil Scolari, who steered the Samba Boys to fourth place on home soil. Heads have also rolled in terms of squad selection.
While Colombian counterpart Pekerman keeps faith with the vast majority of his roster that went further than any Coffee Growers team in World Cup history, there are recalls for nine Brazil internationals that were omitted this summer. There are also some first-time call-ups.
Some have been drafted in through necessity. Goalkeeper Julio Cesar and target man Fred both chose to call time on their international careers, while midfield flop Paulinho and woeful wing back Dani Alves are among those dropped.
Opportunity knocks for Porto’s Danilo on the right-hand side of defence and Napoli stopper Rafael Cabral between the sticks. Dunga has retained disgraced defender David Luiz, however, but skipper Thiago Silva is injured, though PSG colleague Marquinhos should deputise. Chelsea capture Filipe Luis ought to get the nod at left back ahead of Marcelo, who initially was omitted in favour of Alex Sandro.
Corinthians midfielder Elias and Liverpool’s creative force Philippe Coutinho return in place of Hernanes and Bernard. Cruzeiro pair Everton Ribeiro (7/2 to score anytime) and Ricardo Goulart (2/1) are handed maiden calls.
It’s still all about Neymar in attack for Brazil, though. He will start for the first time since fracturing a vertebrae in his back following a challenge from Juan Zuniga. The Colombia right back shouldn’t be marking Neymar again here, however, as there is widespread speculation Dunga will play his star turn as a ‘false number nine’.
Wherever he plays, and supported by the returning Robinho (7/4), Neymar is attractive value in the first or last scorer markets at 9/2. A repeat scoreline from the World Cup quarter-final, 2-1 to Brazil, comes in at 8/1, and is plausible to be the result again, because Dunga will want to tighten things up, though faces fearsome Falcao et al.