Brazil to avoid a potential Trap?
World Cup second favourites Brazil step-up their World Cup preparations with a tough tie against the Republic of Ireland. The five-time world champions will want to use the match for match sharpness and confidence before South Africa. Thierry Henry's now infamous handball means Ireland miss out this summer but they will hope to save some face with a big win here.
This is Brazil's (2/5) final warm up match before the finals so they will hope it is a good one. Head coach Dunga will hope to be proved right with his almost total omission of Ronaldinho throughout his tenure. He doesn't pick the big names on merit and is more than comfortable picking relative unknowns in his pursuit of glory.
This is Ireland's (6/1) first match since their match against France. The incident, now referred to as "The Hand of Gaul", broke the hearts of the fans and although a win over Brazil at the Emirates Stadium won't change history, it will be a big confidence boost to the players.
All eyes will be on Dunga's team selection, Kaka, Luis Fabiano and ex-Arsenal star Gilberto Silva are expected to feature in the middle. Although many are bemused with Ronaldinho missing out even though he has come in to some form recently, the manager is not fazed and insists he will take the team in the direction he wants.
Giovanni Trapattoni is also trying to put his own stamp on the squad as he calls up three youngsters James McCarthy, Marc Wilson and Greg Cunningham to the squad. There are two massive names missing from the squad though. Robbie Keane missed out in Celtic's weekend league match and Richard Dunne picked up an injury in the Carling Cup defeat.
Other than that the Ireland squad looks fairly strong, they certainly have the names there to give Brazil a game. Trap has made them in to solid, well-organised side - they wouldn't have made it all the way to a WC play-off place otherwise.
In Brazil's last five games Nilmar has scored in four of them, even bagging a hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Chile. Taking this in to account, the 9/2 on the in-form striker bagging the first goal looks a good bet. The squad has such strength and depth, goals can come from anywhere; Robinho is 11/2 first goal, Kaka is 13/2 and Julio Baptista is 8/1.
For Ireland, if they play two up top it will probably be Kevin Doyle and Leon Best. Doyle, the Wolves front man, is 10/1 for the first goal but the 7/2 any time could be worth a go. An interesting outsider is Damien Duff who has two in his last four league matches and is a massive 16/1 first goal or 6/1 anytime.
Before the news came out about Keane and Dunne missing the match, I really fancied Ireland to push Brazil and even fancied them on the double chance with the draw at 17/10.
Even though Trapattoni has highlighted the need for spirit and passion, I feel without their two best players, they could struggle against a much more skilful and experienced side.
In all fairness, it is a friendly match and Brazilian minds may be elsewhere so it could be close, but I fancy Brazil to edge it - the 2-0 result at 9/2 is probably where my money will go.