First place on the line
By Sports Network
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo stretches during a World Cup training session in Magaliesburg. (REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro)
DURBAN - Brazil has already secured a spot in the second round after wins in its first two Group G matches, while Portugal is on the verge of advancing following a 7-0 destruction of North Korea last time out.
A draw at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Friday would allow Brazil to win the group, while Portugal would claim the second spot, but predicting how this match will go is something that is difficult to do. Both sides would secure first in the group with a victory.
Portugal played an ultra conservative game in its opening match against Ivory Coast, which ended in a 0-0 draw, but turned on the style against North Korea, scoring six times in the second half.
"It was a great display with good goals and the right attitude," Portugal manager Carlos Queiroz said following the North Korea game. "We needed a game like this, but we have to remember that we've not won anything yet. The most important thing is to secure qualification."
Portuguese winger Simao also talked about staying grounded after the match, and he will not be content with his team until they have reached the next round.
"Our goal has always been to get through to the round of 16 and we're close now," Simao said. "The game against Brazil is an important one and nothing's decided yet."
In order for Portugal to be kept out of the last 16, it would need an epic collapse against the Brazilians while Ivory Coast would have to hammer North Korea to overturn a massive edge in goal difference for Portugal.
Brazil star Kaka received two late yellow cards in the 3-1 win over Ivory Coast last time out, meaning he will miss the match through suspension, but goalkeeper Julio Cesar is already looking for his team to fix a few small problems as they prepare for the next round.
"We were drawn in one of the most difficult groups, if not the most difficult," the goalkeeper said. "We were a bit nervous in our opening game. Anxiety had taken hold, but I knew that we'd play better and that's why we've come off the pitch happy. Yet again we've conceded a goal, but at least we've let them in at moments we could afford to. We're going to need to iron out a few flaws ahead of the knockout stages, so we don't make any more mistakes."
Portugal will likely play a more conservative game against Brazil as they try to keep their third clean sheet in as many matches to round out the group stage, while Brazil's attack will provide a good test for goalkeeper Eduardo, who has faced just five shots in the competition so far.