Brazil and Honduras go head to head on Sunday night as the pair begin their final preparations before the Copa America and CONCACAF Gold Cup the following week. The venue is the Estadio Jose Pinheiro Borda and kick off is set for 8pm BST, with stars such as Richarlison, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho all expected to be involved for the hosts. The visitors will feel that they can learn a lot from this encounter having struggled for positive results recently, failing to win in three of their last four outings despite all being friendlies. On the previous two occasions that these two have faced off, Brazil have come out on top by five goals to nil and a solitary goal, with the last meeting coming almost four years ago in 2015. There is little on the line here for both teams, and neither will want to suffer any injuries right before international tournaments after seeing what happened to PSG forward Neymar against Qatar, yet this should still be an intriguing watch.
The news of Neymar’s absence from this year’s Copa America has shocked the footballing world and the entire nation of Brazil as the attacker was expected to play a leading role in his countries attempt at becoming Copa America champions once more. His injury means that players such as Richarlison, Coutinho, Firmino and others will need to step up to the plate if the World Cup hosts of 2014 are to compete in this summer’s tournament, so the pressure really is on to impress manager Tite. Aside from the injury, Brazil have been in good form as of late, winning eight of their nine outings since their World Cup exit at the hands of Belgium in the quarter finals. Brazil have kept three clean sheets in their past five matches, conceding only against the Czech Republic in a 1-3 victory and when they welcomed Panama in a surprise stalemate which took place at the Estadio Do Dragao in Portugal in March. One more win here would see Brazil go into the Copa America in relatively high spirits in spite of the injury news, however it will not be an easy task against a resolute Honduras side.
This weekend’s visitors will be rather more confident of coming away with a good result following the new of Neymar’s unfortunate injury, but they will also be slightly frustrated of not having the opportunity to prove themselves against a full strength Brazil squad. This fixture provides Honduras with the perfect platform to gain belief ahead of their all important Gold Cup opener versus Jamaica as their only victory in the past five matches came on home soil against Panama. Three of the other results were draws against Ecuador, Paraguay and UAE, where they netted a combined total of two goals over the three games. When Honduras came up against Chile they were firmly put to the sword by four goals to one with Alexander Lopez getting the only goal of the day for the losing team just before the half-time interval. There is no doubt that Honduras are second favourites, even with Brazil missing their star-man, but they will be desperate to show their talent when they take on one of the world’s most famous footballing nations.
As is now known world-wide, Neymar is forced out of this one due to a ligament injury sustained in the friendly match against Qatar last Wednesday. It could be argued that he was unlikely to feature from the start in this fixture regardless of his fitness, but it will now be someone else who fills the left-wing role left vacant by the 27-year-olds early departure from the squad. In two of the past three Brazil games, they have lined up in a 4-3-3 formation. The only time they changed was when they played away from home against the Czech Republic where they started in a 4-1-4-1 formation. Here, we expect them go begin in a 4-3-3 with Richarlison, Firmino and Coutinho up front.
Honduras have lined up with four at the back and four in midfield in each of their last two matches prior to this one, first in a 4-4-1-1 against Ecuador which finished goalless, and more recently upon their trip to Paraguay where 4-4-2 was utilized. Therefore, it is likely that they will attempt to crowd a lesser-manned Brazil midfield with that extra player, although manager Fabian Coito may opt for something unexpected to surprise their upcoming opponents. There is one injury concern for Honduras as Anthony Lozano could be forced to the sidelines with a muscular problem.
Due to Neymar’s injury which has led to him subsequently leaving the Brazil training camp, the forward players will be firing on all cylinders to prove that they’re good enough to start in his place. For this reason, I’m going for Brazil to score over 3.5 goals with Paddy Power. A winning margin of around 3 goals looks likely, and you can bet on exactly that with Bet365, but don’t write Honduras off just yet though, as Brazil have been shocked very recently in the stalemate with Panama which ended 1-1 with most of their top players getting a fair amount of playing time too.
In terms of who’ll come out on top, I’m pretty certain it’ll be the hosts. However, I can see Honduras potentially bagging a goal or two, particularly against a vulnerable opponent who will expect nothing from their opponents. With Bet365, I’ve gone for Brazil to win and BTTS at 2/1.
Brazil to score over 3.5 goals
Brazil to win & BTTS
Brazil winning margin of 3 goals