World champions Brazil
will have to use all their creative ability on Sunday to prise open a
Paraguay team that has become one of their least favourite opponents.
Brazil striker Adriano is expected to start an international for the
first time since September following the controversial decision to leave
Ronaldo out of the World Cup qualifier after he asked to be excused from
the Confederations Cup.
Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who had previously warned that he did not
want to hear about requests for holidays, responded by dropping Ronaldo
from Sunday's game in Porto Alegre and the visit to Argentina four days
Adriano, who has had an outstanding season in Italy with Inter Milan, is
expected to line up in attack alongside either 21-year-old Santos
forward Robinho or Betis striker Ricardo Oliveira.
Brazil are second in the 10-nation South American qualifying group with
24 points from 13 games, four points behind leaders Argentina, and know
that three points in Porto Alegre's Beira-Rio stadium will leave them on
the brink of a place in the Germany finals next year.
First, however, they have to defeat a Paraguay team who are unbeaten in
their last three meetings with the world champions and are attempting to
reach their third successive World Cup.
The Paraguayans spoiled Brazil's party when they beat them 1-0 in a
friendly in August 2002 in a match specifically arranged to celebrate
Brazil's fifth World Cup title, which they had won in Japan less than
two months before.
That was followed by a tough goalLess draw in last year's World Cup
qualifier in Asuncion and a 2-1 win for Paraguay when they met at the
Copa America in Peru in July.
At under-23 level, the Paraguayans even denied Brazil a place at the
2004 Olympics, beating them 1-0 in a crucial qualifying match to take
their place alongside Argentina as South America's representatives.
Brazil, who will be missing captain Cafu through suspension, last beat
their much smaller neighbours four years ago in another World Cup
qualifier, also played in Porto Alegre.
"They defend well, they're very determined and they need the result just
as much as we do," said Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.
"They defend with nine or ten players and are not ashamed to to take the
quick route to goal. Even the goalkeeper starts attacks from his own
"But I also believe in the quality of our players. All the European
league champions have Brazilian players -- in France, in Italy, in
Germany, in Spain..."
Bayern Munich striker Roque Santa Cruz, who has had an injury-hit season,
is available for Paraguay, although coach Anibal Ruiz may only bring him
back in the home game against Bolivia on Wednesday.
Instead, Mexican-based pair Jose Cardozo and Salvador Cabanas are
expected to line up in attack.
Brazil - Dida; Belletti, Roque Junior, Juan, Roberto Carlos; Emerson, Ze
Roberto, Kaka, Ronaldinho; Adriano, Robinho
Paraguay - Justo Villar; Denis Caniza, Julio Cesar Caceres, Carlos
Gamarra, Paulo da Silva; Carlos Bonet, Angel Ortiz, Carlos Paredes,
Aureliano Torres; Jose Cardozo, Salvador Cabanas
Referee - Martin Vazquez (Uruguay).