Brazil kick off their bid for a sixth World Cup success against unfancied North Korea on Tuesday.
It is the first ever meeting between the two countries as highest-ranked team at the World Cup comes up against the lowest-ranked. For the Asian side, making their first appearance since 1966, there could hardly have been a tougher baptism.
Goalkeeper Julio Cesar is set to play after recovering from a back injury meaning Brazil go into the game with a fully-fit squad, Luis Fabiano is set to lead the attack for selecao with Kaka and Robinho playing a supporting role.
Coach Dunga, who has come in for criticism in Brazil for what is perceived to be an overly defensive approach, banned reporters from training for the third time in a week, just two days before the opening game. The man who skippered Brazil to success in 1994, is looking to emulate German legend Franz Beckenbauer, who managed to captain and coach his country to World Cup success.
Opinion on Dunga is divided in his native Brazil with many believing that his desire to win has come at too high a cost for the nation most closely associated with the expression ‘the beautiful game’. Despite the criticism of the 2010 vintage brazil there is still plenty of flair in the side, with the likes of Kaka and Robinho not exactly renowned for their workmanlike qualities.
North Korea have no injury problems to contend with for the game and coach Kim Jong-hun speaking confidently of his side’s prospects ahead of the game..
Kim said: “It could be a difficult match but nevertheless the three points we get for winning the match will not be just for Brazil, they will be precious for us as well.
“Our goal for tomorrow is to gain those three victory points and that our team truly becomes one and we exploit our full potential.
“Our players are very qualified, they are very talented and they don’t fall behind any other players in the world.
“Their talent and quality will be shown tomorrow and this will bring great happiness to our leader Kim Jong-il and show that people of Korea DPR have a strong mentality.
“Of course Brazil are a strong team, they are a perennial favourite. But we have a strong mentality and that is why I think we will prevail.”
Brazil (probable): Gomes; Maicon, Lucio, Thiago Silva, Michel Bastos; Gilberto Silva, Ramires; Elano, Kaka, Robinho; Luis Fabiano
North Korea (probable): Myong-Guk; Jun-Il, Nam-Chol, Song-Chol, Kwang-Chon, Chol-Jin; In-Guk, Young-Hak, Nam-Chol, Yong-Jo; Tae-Se