Preview: England vs. Brazil

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview for England's international friendly with Brazil at Wembley.

England will play their final match of 2017 on Tuesday evening when five-time world champions Brazil visit Wembley Stadium.

With just seven months remaining until next summer's World Cup in Russia both teams will be continuing their preparation for the tournament in what will be their first meeting since June 2013.


England

Interim England manager Gareth Southgate on the touchline during the international friendly with Spain at Wembley on November 15, 2016© SilverHub

With only a handful of matches to go until Gareth Southgate must name his squad for the World Cup, every outing between now and next summer's tournament will be integral towards building a good idea of who will be on the plane to Russia next summer.

England's glamour friendly double-header has been hit by a string of key players withdrawing from the squad, forcing Southgate to hand debuts to five players during Friday's goalless draw with Germany.

However, despite naming the least experienced England starting lineup since 1980, the performance against the world champions was arguably England's most encouraging for some time as they more than held their own against Joachim Low's side.

Germany certainly had their chances to win the game - and came closest to doing so - but in the end a draw was a fair result at Wembley and many fans would have left the match feeling more positive about the team than from any of their four consecutive wins building up to it.

It was a match which strengthened the belief that England are better equipped to face better opposition, although while the performances are often more positive, the results are not.

Southgate has failed to win any of his four friendlies in charge of England - against Germany twice, Spain and France - whereas in competitive matches he has won seven and lost none of his nine games at the helm.

Brazil's visit on Tuesday will be another stern test of an under-strength Three Lions squad, although the hope will be that the experience of facing the world's top two ranked teams will prove invaluable once England are in the World Cup next summer.

It is now 10 matches since England last lost on home soil stretching back to March 2016, although the only times they have failed to win in that run have come in other glamour friendlies - against Spain and then Germany on Friday.

At Wembley itself England have won 15 and lost just one of their last 18 outings, so they are a difficult team to beat in front of their own fans and even the might of Brazil may have their work cut out.

However, the Three Lions have won just two of their last eight matches against South American opposition and with Brazil almost at full strength - something Germany were not and England are certainly not - Southgate's side may once again start the match as underdogs.

Recent form: LWWWWD


Brazil

Tite participates in a Brazil training session at the team headquarters in Sao Paulo on June 15, 2016© AFP

There is a well-known adage claiming that England created football, but Brazil perfected it. However, it wasn't too long ago that there was talk of crisis for a nation which brought us the likes of Pele, Garrincha and Ronaldo.

Just last June Brazil were knocked out in the group stages of the Copa America following defeat to Peru and, with the scars still fresh from their 7-1 humiliation at the hands of Germany in their home World Cup two years earlier, the Selecao's powers appeared to be waning.

However, Tite was brought in as head coach following that early Copa America exit and Brazil have since gone from strength to strength, winning his first nine matches at the helm and losing just once in 16 since he took charge - a 1-0 friendly defeat to Argentina.

Indeed, despite winning just two of their opening six World Cup qualifiers, Brazil were the first team to book their place at next summer's tournament besides hosts Russia, and should they keep up their form then they will be among the favourites to lift the biggest prize in football for a sixth time.

Attacking football is a trademark of Brazilian sides, yet Tite has managed to bring in defensive solidity without losing much of the team's flair; in his 16 games since taking over Brazil have kept 11 clean sheets, yet still scored 39 goals.

Japan were the latest team to fall to Tite's Brazil as they ran out 3-1 winners in France on Friday, with Neymar scoring his 53rd international goal to move to within just two of Romario.

Brazil are now unbeaten in their last nine away games stretching back to defeat at the hands of Chile in October 2015, which itself is one of only two away defeats they have suffered since their last visit to Wembley almost five years ago.

Indeed, the Selecao do not have the most impressive record on English soil overall - including an early exit in the 1966 World Cup as the defending champions - so they will need to improve upon that if they are to get anything from Tuesday's match.

However, rarely will they have come up against an England side so weakened by injuries and withdrawals and, having won 25 of their last 26 friendlies, the visitors will be quietly confident of picking up a Wembley triumph.

Recent form: WWDDWW


Team News

England defender Gary Cahill in action during his side's World Cup qualifier against Scotland at Wembley on November 11, 2016© SilverHub

England will have Gary Cahill back available for Tuesday's match after he missed the draw with Germany due to a back injury.

The Chelsea skipper will not captain his country, though, with Eric Dier once again handed that honour having led England out for the first time against the world champions on Friday.

There could be more debuts in line too, with uncapped trio Dominic Solanke, Lewis Cook and Angus Gunn the latest players to have been drafted into the inexperienced squad.

Phil Jones has been forced to withdraw from the squad due to a thigh injury he picked up during the first half of the Germany draw, meaning England have lost the most capped player from their starting lineup for that match.

The likes of Joe Hart and Cahill could add some more experience on Tuesday, but aside from that pair only Kyle Walker (31) from the current squad has won more than 30 caps for his country.

Brazil have 10 players with more than 30 international appearances, incidentally, including the world's most expensive player Neymar who could start at Wembley.

Liverpool duo Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino may come into the team having been rested against Japan in Lille on Friday, while Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson is also in line for a recall.

England possible starting lineup:
Hart; Walker, Stones, Cahill, Keane, Bertrand; Loftus-Cheek, Dier, Lingard; Vardy, Abraham

Brazil possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Alves, Silva, Jemerson, Marcelo; Casemiro, Fernandinho, Coutinho; Willian, Jesus, Neymar.


Head To Head

England have won just one of their last 10 meetings with Brazil across all competitions, although that triumph did come on Brazil's most recent visit to Wembley when goals from Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard earned the hosts a 2-1 victory.

Indeed, Brazil have only won two of their previous 11 away trips against England, with those victories coming in May 1981 and June 1995.

The only time England have scored more than two goals in a game against Brazil came in their very first meeting - a 4-2 win in May 1956 - although they have scored exactly two goals in both of their meetings since the turn of the decade, most recently a 2-2 draw at the Maracana in June 2013.


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We say: England 0-2 Brazil

England were better against Germany despite not coming away with the win, but the Germans have a surprisingly poor record in friendlies whereas Brazil are the opposite. The visitors also have the vast majority of their big hitters available and Tite is renowned for demanding the most from his side every time they play, so they will not take their foot off the pedal on Tuesday.


Who will win Tuesday's friendly between England and Brazil?

England
Draw
Brazil
England
18.8%
Draw
12.5%
Brazil
68.8%
England defender Gary Cahill in action during his side's World Cup qualifier against Scotland at Wembley on November 11, 2016
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