A Brazilian explains how Argentina can win

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INVASION ALERT! Ahead of the crucial Clasico qualifier between Argentina and Brazil, Celso de Campos Jr – writer of blog The Noise From Brazil – gives his view from the other side. Including how Maradona's men can beat the Seleçao...

I know, I know...

You Argentina lovers out there are asking, what the f*ck is this Brazilian b*stard doing here in the sacred Argie Bargy territory? Right on the eve of Saturday’s Clásico?

Chill out, hermanos... I come in peace, invited by FourFourTwo.

Since the Albiceleste have been struggling lately in crunch-time professional matches against the Seleção (by the way, kudos to the youth and Olympic squad's recent triumphs), I thought I would pop in here to offer some advice to help Diego Maradona beat Brazil in this crucial World Cup qualifier.

I know the red alert light is flashing for Messi and his mates. There's a real threat of watching next year's World Cup on TV, and I honestly think there’s no point in rooting for Argentina falling short of the ultimate football party.

Besides the titles I celebrated in 1994 and 2002, some of my fondest World Cup memories are related to the arch-rivals' defeats!

And there is hope, of course.

Just because Brazil routed Argentina in the 2004 and 2007 Copa America finals and in the 2005 Confederations Cup, it doesn’t mean you can’t beat us when it really counts.

See, last year in the Belo Horizonte qualifier match you held us to a goalless draw.

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So, seriously, let’s get down to business.

First, the basics. Brazil line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with a reliable defence despite Juan’s absence on Saturday – Benfica’s Luisão will join captain Lúcio, the true owner of the team, whether we like him or not.

On the wings, there’s high-flying Maicon and newcomer André Santos.

Then there’s two defensive midfielders, Felipe Melo on the left and Gilberto Silva on the right, behind a trio of offensive men feeding a lone man up front (Luis Fabiano).

During the Confederations Cup, Ramires (right) won a place among those three, alongside stars Robinho (on the left) and Kaká (in the centre).

But for this particular game Dunga has announced he’ll field Elano – a wise decision, since it’s sure going to get physical and Ramires must weigh 40 kg tops.

Also, with defensive-minded Elano on the right, Maicon’s Usain Bolt-like sprints to the attack will be covered.

Having said that, here’s the five keys to an Argentinian win – just don’t tell Dunga you heard it from me.

1 – Go right. Brazil's defensive left side is the weak spot of Brazil’s team. Veteran Kleber, the coach’s first choice, has proved himself a flunk – he lost his place to Andre Santos in the Confederations Cup and it’s safe to say he’s history.

The new starter Andre Santos, who recently left Corinthians to Fenerbahce, is a fairly good player, but rather inexperienced internationally – so much so that Dunga, with an eye on 2010, has already tested right-back Daniel Alves on the left side in the Confederations Cup.

Besides, Andre Santos is best known for his attacking skills, so expect an avenue wider than Buenos Aires’ 12-lane 9 de Julio down Brazil’s left side. With Messi and Tevez there, I don’t even want to think about Argentina’s counter-attacks.

2 – Eyes on the 9. The Battle of Rosario Reloaded is one of those close games that are likely to be decided by an implacable centre-forward who doesn’t forgive that one slight defensive mistake. (Remember, the original one, in the 1978 World Cup, ended in a bloody 0-0.)

Brazilian Luis Fabiano shone in the recent Confederations Cup – not to mention that he’s the team’s top scorer with seven goals and usually grows in big games.

Double-teaming him is mandatory, especially when one of your defenders is Sebá Dominguez – who embarrassed himself in Brazilian football during his brief stint with Corinthians in 2005.

I haven’t seen him since, and I don’t want to be unfair, but I don’t believe the 29-year-old veteran can have learned in the last four seasons what he hadn’t already gleaned in a quarter of century.

(Oh, and don’t even think about handing the infamous “Holy Water” to Luis Fabiano. If something happens to him, there’s Adriano behind him – I won’t be mean enough to remind you what the Emperor has done to Argentina in the past.)

The Emperor: Waiting in the wings

3 – Hit us. You can’t let the Brazilians “like the match,” as we say here. In our last game, against Uruguay at Centenario, the opposition was soft and we rolled them over 4-0.

So – and I can’t believe I’m suggesting this – Argentina can stop Brazil with a spot of violence towards the brain of the squad, our offensive midfield.

If they're made uncomfortable, Robinho, Kaká and Elano tend to disappear from the game. Unfortunately.

(Note: This doesn’t apply to Luis Fabiano, who’d be delighted to engage in a quick fight. Stay away from him.)

But, please, keep violence at a reasonable level – and since Mascherano is out, we’re half-way there.

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4 – Don’t tease us. The old Argentinian catimba [provocation] has lost its power. Clubs may still fall for it in the South American tournaments, but the Seleção is experienced enough to dodge it – and will actually take advantage of it.

Don’t forget the lesson of the 2004 Copa America final in Lima.

With minutes to go, Argentina were 2-1 up against Brazil's  B squad – Ronaldo, Ronaldinho & Co. were sipping caipirinhas at home – when Tevez and D’Alessandro began to tease the Brazilians, doing little tricks with the ball.

It enraged the Seleção, who went forward, tied the game and took it home on penalties.

5 – Pray. Since the Argentina coach is himself a god, according to the straight-edged fellas of the Maradonian church, this one should be already covered.

But, just in case, the gaffer took his army on Thursday to a private chat with the almighty of the Christians too, in the AFA chapel, in the Ezeiza facilities. Wise man...

So good luck to Argentina! Hope to see you in 2010...

---------------------------------------------- More to read...

Joel Richards: How to beat Argentina...

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