Brazil to test England's progress under Capello
Thursday 24 September 2009
England will play five-time World Cup winners Brazil in a friendly in Qatar on Saturday 14 November. The meeting, which will be the 23rd between the two countries, has been mooted for a while now but the Football Association has finally confirmed it after all the contractual details were sorted out.
While some Premier League managers may have reservations about their leading players embarking on a 14-hour round trip in the middle of the season, the FA has tried to offer some reassurance by pointing out England will not play on the Wednesday of a double-header created for World Cup play-offs, so all squad members will be back at their clubs earlier than normal.
The match at the 50,000-capacity Khalifa International Stadium will be a first visit to the Middle Eastern state for England and is payback for Brazil agreeing to be the first visitors to the new Wembley in 2007. More importantly for coach Fabio Capello, it is an opportunity to assess his team against the side currently ranked No 1 in the world.
Having faced the Netherlands in August and both Spain and Germany away from home last season, a meeting with the Confederations Cup winners will be another tough challenge given England have only beaten Brazil three times in their history, the last occasion in March 1990 when Gary Lineker scored the only goal for Sir Bobby Robson's side.
It will represent the last chance Capello, who is due to name his squad for England's final two World Cup qualifiers against the Ukraine and Belarus next Sunday, will have to assess his side at any length before next summer given their only other friendly is a midweek game in March. England will play two additional matches before the World Cup begins, both of which will take place after the current campaign is over.
"To play a team like Brazil will be important for us," said Capello. "We can understand more about ourselves and the level we must reach by playing the best teams. One of the benefits of securing qualification against Croatia is that we can start to plan for the World Cup and this match is one part of our plans."
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