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Olympic Preview: Belgium - Brazil







What: Olympic Games Bronze Medal Play-Off
Who: Belgium U-23 vs Brazil U-23
When: 22 August 2008, 19:00 China Standard Time
Where: Shanghai Stadium, Shanghai
Referee: Thomas Einwaller (Austria)



Having already met in their very first match of the tournament, Brazil and Belgium will get re-acquainted in Shanghai for a bronze medal match of utmost significance...

Much To Prove

Brazil, having once again suffered from the curse of semi-final failure, will regard the bronze medal as an absolute bare minimum.

But what an important minimum it is. The Seleção simply cannot afford to fail here, given that some of the players - not least Ronaldinho - are already the subject of grumbling back home.

Yet it is the manager, Dunga, who has the most to lose. The 1994 World Cup-winning captain is under immense pressure from both the press and the fans, and even though he has defiantly stated that he is determined to continue along his path as manager one feels that defeat here could provoke his resignation.

Increasingly dour and severe, Dunga has publicly criticised Alexandre Pato's abilities in comparison with Rafael Sobis, but after Sobis (and substitute Pato, at that) failed to impress in that disastrous semi-final against Argentina he may have to think twice about his forward options.

At the back things may remain the same in spite of the fact that Brazil shipped three goals. If there are to be changes then it could be that Ilsinho and/or Thiago Silva are introduced so as to make up for the failure of the last round.

That 3-0 win, a mirror-image of Brazil's 2007 Copa América triumph, will - sadly for Dunga - linger longer in the memory than any potential win against Belgium.

Step Too Far

Belgium, meanwhile, overcame a personnel deficit and their own stature as underdogs to beat Italy in the quarter-finals. They couldn't repeat the feat against Nigeria, though, being trounced 4-1 by the Dream Team.

That was a step too far for the Red Devils, but they come into this last game with very little to lose. After all, few expected them to be among the medals, and they've already lost to Brazil in the first place.

That was a fairly close-fought encounter, too, and although Belgium have been weakened by the departure of two key players since then they may hold out hopes of a shock against a jaded and demoralised Brazilian side.

Among their ranks the Belgians boast Moussa Dembéle, the second-highest goalscorer in the competition alongside Victor Obinna. What's more, Kevin Mirallas is just behind with two goals. If they can keep it tight at the back, this proven strike force might just have a surprise in store.

FORM GUIDE

Belgium (Olympics only)

07 Aug 08 Brazil LOST 1-0
10 Aug 08 China PR WON 2-0
13 Aug 08 New Zealand WON 1-0
16 Aug 08 Italy WON 3-2
19 Aug 08 Nigeria LOST 4-1

Brazil (Olympics only)

07 Aug 08 Belgium WON 1-0
10 Aug 08 New Zealand WON 5-0
13 Aug 08 China PR WON 3-0
16 Aug 08 Cameroon WON 2-0
19 Aug 08 Brazil LOST 3-0

TEAM NEWS

Belgium

Vincent Kompany and Maroune Fellaini are both absent, having already flown home, but Thomas Vermaelen is back from suspension. There are no new sanctions to worry about, and coach Jean-François De Sart has no injuries to contend with.

Possible Starting XI: Bailly; Roover, Simaeys, Vermaelen, Bocognoli; De Mul, Haroun, Vertonghen, Martens; Dembéle, Mirallas.

Brazil

Lucas and Thiago Neves are both suspended after their late red cards against Argentina, but at least Dunga has no injuries to worry about. Nonetheless with Lucas being an ever-present, and his natural replacement of Neves now unable to play, there are question marks over the defensive midfield. It could well be that Dunga tries an unorthodox 4-1-3-2 to fit his formation around the players available.

Possible Starting XI: Renan Brito; Rafinha, Alex Silva/Thiago Silva, Breno, Marcelo; Hernanes; Diego, Ramires, Anderson; Pato, Ronaldinho.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Belgium - Logan Bailly: After being injured in the match against Italy the Genk man recovered to face Nigeria, only to have to pick the ball out of his net four times. Assuming that he starts here as first choice he'll need to once again show the form that saw him let in just one strike against Brazil in the first round. Also watch out for Tom De Mul, who is still attracting admirers with some fine wing play.

Brazil - Alexandre Pato: The young AC Milan forward garnered criticism from his manager prior to the semi-final meeting with Argentina, ensuring that Rafael Sobis played in his place. Pato was able to contribute as a substitute, but neither he nor the Betis man were to impress overmuch against the albiceleste. Should Pato be given another chance he'll be eager to make amends. Ronaldinho, needless to say, also needs to do more.

PREDICTION

Brazil did enough to win the first game and despite spirit being at a low they can do the same again against a tired, depleted Belgian side.

Belgium 0-2 Brazil

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Olympic Preview: Belgium - Brazil Reviewed by admin Ucop on 5:11 PM Rating: 5

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