Kaka vs Landon Donovan
On the face of it. No comparison. Real’s $90 million for the Brazilian to $1 million for Donovan’s DP status at the Galaxy. However, when it comes to influencing their national squads, Donovan’s role is far more important. In this match itself, Donovan has to do what he did against Spain, not just prove to be the creative spark on attack but help the defense neutralize Kaka. With Brazil having the luxury of the experienced Gilberto and the talented Melo covering the back, Kaka can concentrate on creating scoring opportunities. Donovan on the other hand will be under pressure to provide quick recovery as Brazil goes on the attack.
Jonathan Spector vs Robinho
The quick flying Robinho loves to attack down the left, cutting in quickly and opening up space with the left back Andre Santos. Spector will have to move back inside to neutralize that threat. Dempsey can track downfield to help cut off the passing lanes with Spector left free to tackle. On the attacking end, Spector can alternate with Dempsey to force the game wide and cross or pass. This might force Robinho into defensive duties.
De Merit vs Maicon
Maicon is a more complete player than Dani Alves. A speedier and better ball handler with competent defensive qualities. There were plenty of overlapping runs with Ramires down the right and Maicon was able to harass the Italians with his solo runs. De Merit’s solid performance against Sergio Ramos blunted the Spanish full back’s attacking instincts. He will have to reproduce that form to achieve similar results.
USA’s defensive trap vs Gilberto and Melo
The US was very successful in keeping the ball pinned in Spain’s half as Casillas struggled to lay the ball at the feet of his players. When he did Xavi was unable to break free as the USA stifled his supply of through balls with good tackles and running onto open players forcing him into errors. Gilberto and Melo are the relays which connect the Brazilian backfield with the midfield attack. With Davis, Donovan, Altidore, and Dempsey pressing up, they could disrupt a Brazil build up early enough without it becoming dangerous.
Altidore and US set pieces vs Brazil defence
This should be a key to the US attack. Corners and free kicks to Altidore, Bocanegra, Spector, and Onyewu provide opportunities to use their strength and aerial ability to give Brazilians some disquieting moments. Bocanegra has acquired quite a reputation with his big time headers and will be watched carefully. The Brazilian center back are quite tall with Luisao and Lucio both well over 6′ so Altidore can use his physical prowess to challenge them.
The starting line ups:
Tim HOWARD (GK), Carlos BOCANEGRA (C), Oguchi ONYEWU, Clint DEMPSEY, Charlie DAVIES, Landon DONOVAN, Ricardo CLARK, Jay DeMERIT, Jozy ALTIDORE, Jonathan SPECTOR, Benny FEILHABER
(GK) JULIO CESAR, MAICON, LUCIO(C), FELIPE MELO, GILBERTO SILVA, LUIS FABIANO, KAKA, ROBINHO, LUISAO, ANDRE SANTOS, RAMIRES