Back Brazil on the handicap in Tuesday’s friendly at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
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Brazil have missed out on the Confederations Cup for the first time since 1995 but they play one of the sides that are heading to Russia, Australia, who qualified by virtue of their win in the 2015 AFC Cup. After a couple of disappointing Copa America campaigns that saw them go out in the quarter-finals in 2015 and then the group stages last year, Brazil have excelled since Tite came in as manager, winning nine of 10 matches to move comfortably clear at the top of CONMEBOL World Cup qualification.
Australia look to have a much tougher task in qualifying for the World Cup as they’ll have to beat Uzbekistan in a playoff and then win against the 4th-placed CONCACAF team. Their home form is impressive as they’ve won eight of their last 10 on their own turf but Brazil will pose them the toughest test they’ve faced in a while. The Aussies have lost six of their last seven meetings with sides that we have ranked in the world’s top-10 (Brazil are 2nd), with five of these defeats by more than one goal.
Neymar, Marcelo, Casemiro and Firmino are all absent but Brazil have such depth that it shouldn’t be too much of a concern as the likes of Coutinho and Douglas Costa are expected to feature. Whilst Brazil suffered their first defeat under Tite last time out in a friendly against Argentina, also at the MCG, this should be a simpler task for the Selecao. They’ve won 10 of their last 13 away matches and five of their last seven trips to teams we have ranked between 13th and 33rd in the world (Australia are 23rd). Since all five of these victories were by more than one goal, we’re backing Brazil to cover the -1 handicap.
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