Group G: Dunga feels the pressure despite Brazil's progress

Portugal v Brazil; Today, 3pm, BBC1. North Korea v Ivory Coast; Today, 3pm, BBCi
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The Independent Online

Brazil have already qualified and will win the group with a win or draw. Portugal can win the group if they beat Brazil, and will finish second if they draw. If they lose they should still qualify on goal difference unless Ivory Coast beat North Korea by a cricket score.

brazil face their toughest opponent yet in Portugal but for coach Dunga the most gruelling battle so far has been the one within his own camp. The victories over North Korea and Ivory Coast mean the favourites have already qualified with a game to spare, but the siege mentality around the Brazilian team is more akin to a national side in crisis.

Dunga was yesterday spared punishment by Fifa after he was heard swearing at journalists in his press conference after the Ivory Coast match. His antagonism towards the media stems from his belief that nothing should get in the way of his side's preparations. However there is a danger that his prolonged stand-off with the press could undermine his authority and introduce greater pressure to an already tense situation.

The media vilify Dunga for adhering to a defensive system, with two holding midfielders in Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo. It is worth noting, however, that despite this cautious approach, Brazil have yet to keep a clean sheet in this World Cup, and this afternoon face a Portugal side that scored seven in their last outing against North Korea.

The main problem facing Dunga now is how to replace Kaka, who is suspended following his red card against Ivory Coast. Elano is also struggling after picking up a calf injury in that 3-1 win. A draw would be enough for Brazil to top the group but Kaka predicted a victory is all that will be on Brazilian minds. "Brazil will go out to win," he said. "A draw would also be good but a win would give us the strength to go into the knockout round really motivated."

If that is the case, the match in Durban could live up to its billing as the best of the group games. "Portugal and Brazil have what it takes to put on a great football show for the world," the Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz said.

Portugal have Cristiano Ronaldo back in scoring form after he broke a two-year international drought in his team's 7-0 demolition of North Korea. "Without a doubt he is a great player, he has been showing this for a long time," Brazil captain Lucio said. "We need to try to defend as a team. It's key we help each other and stay focused."

Portugal's squad includes three Brazil-born players – Pepe, Deco and Liedson – although all three could be on the bench. The two countries have met just once at a World Cup, in 1966, when a Portugal team led by Eusebio beat Brazil and the South Americans were knocked out in the group phase.

Ivory Coast retain a very slim chance of qualifying when they play North Korea in Nelspruit. Sven-Goran Eriksson's team must beat North Korea and also make up a nine-goal deficit, while Portugal have to lose to Brazil. They are not giving up, however. "There's one match to go and we owe it to ourselves to win it and hope events go in our favour," said the Ivorian defender Guy Demel.

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