Soccer fans in Toronto will be treated to a Brazil squad that's on a roll and nearing the top of its game when the five-time World Cup champions play Chile in a friendly on Tuesday.
"I think that today if we analyze Brazil. . . we watched them against Honduras on Saturday, it's very difficult to find any weakness," Chilean coach Jorge Sampaoli said in a news conference Monday. "The team, the way they play, the responsibility they feel, the effort of the individuals like Neymar... We have to be at our best to be able to compete with this team."
The match, which is being played on real grass at Rogers Centre, is part of the Gillette International Soccer Series, which also included Brazil's rout over Honduras on Saturday in Miami, a game that saw five different Brazilians — Bernard, Dante, Maicon, Willian, and Hulk — score.
It marks Brazil's first game in Canada in almost 20 years and the first ever in Toronto. The Brazilians last played in Canada in June 1994 in Edmonton, settling for a 1-1 tie versus the Canadians in front of 51,936 fans at Commonwealth Stadium. Brazil went on to win the World Cup later that year.
Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is hoping for a repeat performance this summer when Brazil hosts the World Cup, telling reporters on Saturday in Miami that he is "100 per cent sure" he will lead Brazil to the World Cup title.
"Brazil will be the champion," he said after the win over Honduras in front of 71,124 fans at Sun Life Stadium.
"Our main goal is to win the World Cup," said Brazilian striker Neymar. "We know the pressure is on and that it is practically an obligation, but everyone knows how hard it is in a competition like that. We're training to win it, that's the dream and we hope we can make it. It's every Brazilian's dream."
The Brazilians, who are playing their final friendly of 2013 here, could face a stiff test against Chile, who at No. 12 are ranked just one spot below the 11th-ranked Brazilians.
"Right now (Brazil) is the best team, but there's a lot of time before the World Cup," Sampaoli said through an interpreter. "The idea is not for us to modify our game, apply pressure, try and recover the ball fast against Brazil, but at the same knowing that giving space is very dangerous with players like Bernard, Neymar and others up front."
Brazil, which is packed full of stars like 21-year-old Barcelona striker Neymar, won the FIFA Confederations Cup in June. The Brazilians have also won their last five games and eight of their last nine meetings with Chile.
Chile, which practised Monday at the Toronto FC training grounds in Downsview, just north of downtown Toronto, finished third in South American qualifying to book its World Cup berth. They're unbeaten in 10 and are coming off a 2-0 victory over England in a friendly Friday at Wembley Stadium that ended England's 10-match unbeaten run.
Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez scored both goals for Chile.
"He's very important for our team, he's in a great moment right now, great form, he's obviously very happy scoring two goals in Wembley Stadium, he also scored a goal in Ecuador, it's made him feel really good," Sampaoli said of his 24-year-old forward. "I think he's one of the best players in the world, I think it's very important to realize that he is a player who makes a big difference for us, I hope he can keep that level because he can really help us in future tournaments."
Brazil was originally scheduled to be in Toronto on Monday, but changed their flight from Miami to instead arrive Monday evening.
Brazil's trip to Miami included attending a Heat game.
"I was so happy to meet LeBron (James)," Neymar said. "He's an idol to me. I went to see the game and I was very emotional, like a child. To me he is the best."
Some 80 South American journalists — approximately 50 from Brazil and 30 from Chile — are in Toronto to cover Tuesday's friendly. Organizers have not provided numbers on ticket sales.Suggest a correction