PA Sport

England v Brazil talking points

England v Brazil talking points
By PA Sport

13/11/2017 at 17:46Updated 13/11/2017 at 17:48

England play their final game of 2017 with a high-profile friendly against Brazil at Wembley.

Here, Press Association Sport assess some of the key sub-plots going into Tuesday's game.

Will England pick up where they left off against Germany?

Many fans, and possibly a few people more closely associated to the Three Lions set-up, were fearing the worst when a depleted squad pitched up to face the world champions. Instead, Gareth Southgate's side turned in an encouraging display that stood in sharp contrast to the loveless toil of their qualifying campaign. They were ultimately worth their share of a 0-0 draw against FIFA's number one team. Another performance like that and the memories of stodgy outings against Slovenia and Lithuania will begin the fade.

Another run for Ruben?

Of the 13 debuts Southgate has given since taking the reins, Ruben Loftus-Cheek's was the most eye-catching of all. He showed athleticism, appetite and a pleasing range of passing that suddenly makes him a live option for Russia 2018. But time is short and friendlies few between now and the summer. A second outing against world-class opposition could be important in establishing his readiness for the challenge ahead.

Hart on trial

Joe Hart has been undisputed first choice for England for several years, but the ground is shifting fast beneath his feet. Jack Butland has emerged as a serious contender for the gloves but his injury last week created a chance which Jordan Pickford emphatically took. Hart will start against Brazil but he now has precious little room for manoeuvre and must now restate his case rather than considering himself the man in possession. It is a three-way fight and Hart will be eager to show he can go the distance.

Can Brazil be shackled?

Brazil have attacking options to bring out any defender in a cold sweat - from the world's most expensive footballer, Neymar, to Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus and Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho. How they are dealt with - or not - will say a lot about Southgate's favoured three-man defence. It could easily become a five if the wing-backs drop deep, but that is no guarantee of security. The side need to show organisational and positional understanding if the system is to inspire full confidence.

Deputy Dier

Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier became the sixth different captain under Southgate when he led the side out against Germany and will retain the role for a second outing. Many still expect Harry Kane to assume the mantle in time for the World Cup, but of the other men who have been given the honour three may not be automatic starters in Russia - Gary Cahill, Jordan Henderson and Joe Hart all have young pretenders to their thrones - and Wayne Rooney is retired. Dier, an on-field "sounding board" for Southgate, may yet emerge as a natural vice-captain.

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