Hulk to return for Brazil

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iol spt pic Hulk training Getty Images Hulk in action during a training session of the Brazilian national football team at the squad's Granja Comary training complex. Photo: Buda Mendes

Brasilia - Under pressure but undeterred, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said he would return to the same starting lineup that delivered an opening World Cup win over Croatia for Monday's Group A clash with Cameroon.

That would mean Ramires dropping to the bench and a recall for forward Hulk, who did not feature in the 0-0 draw with Mexico because of a thigh muscle problem.

“I will continue with the lineup that started the first match and depending on the performance I might make some changes,” Scolari told reporters on Sunday.

“We have to be very careful, very attentive as we have not qualified.”

Brazil beat Croatia 3-1 in their opener before the Mexico stalemate which left them on four points - level with the Central Americans at the top of the group, while the European side are a point back after beating Cameroon 4-0.

An unthinkable defeat against the disjointed and eliminated Africans at the Brasilia national stadium could see the hosts exit at the first hurdle for the first time since 1966. Scolari said the pressure was on his team.

“We know we have two results to get tomorrow [Monday] - a tie or victory,” the 2002 World Cup winning coach said, before reciting the over used soccer mantra 'there are no easy games'.

“Of course we are all anxious, even if we had already qualified there would be anxiety over whether we would be first or second.

“This anxiety makes you make mistakes but we have been working on this in training so the players are at ease, but know in order to continue we must carry on working hard.

“I'm not going to change my team, I really trust my squad.”

Ramires lasted only a half against Mexico down the left before being substituted for Bernard at the break as the Brazilian frontline struggled to break down a strong Mexican rearguard, led by impressive goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Striker Fred was another who failed to make an impact and was replaced by Jo in the second half against the Mexicans, while questions were asked about the performance of midfielder Paulinho who again looked below par.

The fiercely loyal Scolari said his side would continue to get better and dismissed concerns about the 25-year-old box-to-box midfielder.

“He has been improving his performance on what he had been doing in the past.

“I trust him, I admire him as a person, the way he is and the dedication, he might not be at his best moment but I trust him and tomorrow he will be back at a better level,” he said, before discussing the team's standards.

“We already have a better tactical and physical condition than in the first match.

“In the game against Mexico we improved, that's my opinion, if we continue as we have we can win tomorrow and qualify.”

Reuters



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