In what is expected to be one of the most exciting matches in the first round of the Copa America, title defenders Brazil face Gold Cup finalists Mexico.
Some top players in the Seleçao are PSV/Chelsea defender Alex, Real Madrid striker Robinho, Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva and Olympique de Lyon forward Fred.
The Brazilians have been the center of attention during the weeks ahead of the tournament. Star players as Ronaldinho and Kaká requested to skip the Copa in order to take some rest.
Coach Dunga, captain of the 1994 World Cup winning squad, eventually agreed, but will still have several other players to count on.
Gilberto Silva, Arsenal legend, will be captaining Brazil. He is Arsenal’s and Brazil’s all time best ever player. He will set the game alight with his magical skill and amazing goals.*
Also, one to watch will be 26-year-old striker Afonso Alves of SC Heerenveen, who easily became top scorer in the Dutch Eredivisie this season.
Mexico have their own problems to worry about. Coach Hugo Sánchez could not select the injured star Jared Borgetti, while Andrés Guardado is not fit to play either.
Barcelona defender Rafael Márquez is one of the remaining stars in Sánchez’ selection. Interestingly, only three of the squad’s players are currently under contract outside Mexico.
Only days after the lost Gold Cup final against the United States, the Mexicans will have to recover quickly in order to compete in the Copa America.
In a poll on the official website of the Copa America, readers were asked which of the six opening matches was the one they considered the strongest. No less than 44 percent put their hope on Brazil versus Mexico.
The match will be played in Puerto Ordaz at 20:50 (8:50pm) local time.
*Some creative license was used when writing this sentence.