Kagawa loss gives Dunga boost as Brazil battle Japan
Superstars Brazil (odds-on at 4/9 to taste victory) continue their tour of Asia with a sell-out show in Singapore, where they will face Far Eastern foes Japan (6/1), with both sides trialling new bosses and meeting on the back of wins.
Whilst these two countries’ recent histories are tangled together in a melting pot of immigration, their football fates could not be further apart. The South American side are five-time World Cup winners, whilst the Blue Samurai first qualified for the competition in 1998.
Footballing giants Brazil have beaten understudies Japan eight times in total, never losing to their competitors in 10 encounters. The East Asian outfit, meanwhile, have conceded 11 times in their last three clashes against the Samba Boys, making the 2014 World Cup hosts 15/4 to score four or more.
Dunga’s Samba Boys will be in fine spirits after slaying eternal rivals Argentina 2-0 last time out in the Superclasico de las Americas. This ensured the defensive midfield legend preserved his 100 per cent record in his seconnd stint as Brazil boss, which includes two further victories over Colombia and Ecuador.
If the sight of Luiz Felipe Scolari favourite Fred floundering up front was the unfortunate striking symbol of the Samba Boys’ ill-fated World Cup campaign, Diego Tardelli is surely Dunga’s man for the new era.
The Atletico Mineiro attacker repaid his coach’s faith by bagging a brace last time out, and in such predatory form is available at an excellent 4/1 to score two or more again, or 18/1 to hit a hat-trick.
Talisman Neymar, meanwhile, has an excellent record of three goals from just two appearances against Japan, making him 7/2 to fire home first.
A couple of top Premier League talents are missing in action for the Samba Boys, Manchester City and Chelsea midfielders Fernandino and Ramires, but Dunga can call on old boys Kaka (7/1 to score last) and Robinho (5/4 to net anytime).
These two former superstars, now both Brazil-based, made substitute appearances against Argentina and have both netted against the Blue Samurai in the past.
Despite history weighing heavily against them, Japan have proven in recent times to be a worthy competitor, with many pundits disappointed they did not live up to their potential at the World Cup.
As new boss Javier Aguirre warms his side up for the Asia Cup in January, he will be without Southampton centre back Maya Yoshida and former Manchester United playmaker Shinji Kagwa. The Borussia Dortmund star had to leave the Blue Samurai squad early, after suffering a head injury in the victory over Jamaica, in which he played a crucial part.
This news is a big blow for Aguirre, with Kagawa having enjoyed a surge in confidence and form since his departure from Old Trafford. Despite the disappointment of his absence, fellow Bundesliga talent, and leading scorer, Shinji Okazaki is on hand to help Japan in their quest for a surprise scalp.
Okazaki (8/1 to score last) has been on target five times for minnows Mainz this term, whilst Keisuke Honda (11/4 to hit home anytime) has been in similarly prolific form for Italian giants AC Milan, netting four goals in six games Serie A games.
Having kept three consecutive clean sheets under Dunga (and at 21/20 to make it four in a row), a big win may be on the cards to help Brazil finish their Asian adventure in style. The Blue Samurai will not roll over easily though, and a battle on neutral ground may work in their favour, with the hopefuls having had no luck against the South Americans, home or away, before.