Focus Fixture: Can England show their true colours against Brazil

22 March 2024

Euro 2024 is fast approaching, everyone knows it, you know it, I know it and most importantly Gareth Southgate knows it. 

His Three Lions side have just four matches left to play before they face off with Serbia in their Euro 2024 opener on June 16. This match against Brazil followed by the visit of Belgium on Tuesday is the last chance they will have to test themselves against high-quality opponents. 

They face a Brazil side who are in the midst of a mini-crisis, they have won just three of their last eight matches and have lost three of their last four. These poor results mean there has been a change of manager and therefore this match will be Dorvial Junior’s first match in charge. 

He is somewhat of a journeyman in Brazilian football taking on 25 different club jobs in his relatively short career. The longest he has stayed anywhere is two years, at Santos from 2015 to 2017. He isn’t scared of returning to an old stomping ground either, he has managed Sao Paulo twice, Santos twice and since 2012, Flamengo three times. 

England’s record against Brazil is poor, they have only beaten them four times and have lost 11. A draw is no stranger in this fixture either with the match concluding at a stalemate 11 times. The hosts only have one win in their last 11 matches against them.

The two teams haven’t met since a 0-0 draw at Wembley in 2017, in the very early stages of Southgate’s tenure. An England team featuring Jake Livermore, Ryan Bertrand, Ashley Young, Danny Rose and the very young pair of Dominic Solanke and Tammy Abraham unsurprisingly failed to break down the Brazilian defence. 

England come into this game in a much stronger place and a team that boasts some of the world’s best players. They also have an incredibly strong run of form, they haven’t tasted defeat since their World Cup quarter-final loss in 2022. Their record at Wembley is incredibly strong, they haven’t lost at the national stadium since Italy beat them on penalties to win Euro 2020.

The Runners and Riders

Everton’s Jarred Branthwaite and Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon have both earned their first call ups to the senior squad and will be keen for the chance to show what they can do. Ezri Konsa has been called up for the second time, he didn’t get a chance to step on the pitch last time so will be looking for some minutes in either of these games. 

There was a late call up for Manchester United’s new wonderkid Kobbie Mainoo who has been a key part of the Reds midfield since he came into the side earlier in the season. 

The hosts are without Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jack Grealish, Marc Guehi and Kieron Trippier but otherwise the squad seems to be close to what Southgate will pick in the summer.

Despite being much rotated, the Brazilian squad will be very familiar to fans of the Premier League and European football. Ederson, Allison, Gabriel, Gabriel Martinelli, Casemiro and Neymar are all notable absentees, but they will still have Vinicius Jnr, Bruno G, Douglas Luiz and teenage-sensation Endrick. 

What they said

Junior was full of praise for the hosts in his pre-match press conference. “England are a team of the highest calibre and they are showing that every step of the way at the moment. It is a team that is still developing but it is doing so at a very accelerated pace. It is being done by someone, Mr Southgate, who has, I believe, more than 90 games in charge of the team.”

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez, has been called up to the England squad for the first time since October 2020, when an injury picked up on international duty ended his season. "I left the training pitch in an ambulance. Leaving and not getting a chance to come back was tough to deal with. It's nice to get back in the mix and close that chapter.”

Bet Builder Tip

I think the game will be a tight one with Southgate wanting his team to show they can control a game against high-quality opposition - something that has let them down at crunch time in the biggest tournaments. 

Therefore, I don’t expect the free-flowing, high-scoring performance that the fans want. 

Given this fixture’s propensity for a draw and its attractive price, 3.8, I am tempted to back it.

I also think both teams to score is a strong bet. Even through their recent poor run of form, Brazil have still found the back of the net in five of their last eight games and the hosts haven’t failed to score since their 0-0 draw with the USA at the World Cup in Qatar.

While it is tricky to place player bets when there is so much doubt around who will start for either side, there are a few players who are certainties and Jude Bellingham is one of them. Bellingham is having an incredible season with Real Madrid, scoring 20 goals from midfield already. Over the last year, he has started to play an even more pivotal role in England’s team as well. I am backing him to have a shot on target in this one.

Recommended Bets

Back England and Brazil to draw, both teams to score and Bellingham to have over 0.5 shots on target @ 7.6.

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