SPORTS

Clash of playing styles

Tonight’s opening match in Group B of the Confederations Cup promises a sharp contrast in styles. World Cup winner Brazil has some of the world’s most resourceful attackers, whereas European champion Greece builds its game around a sturdy defense. Such stark differences could produce an international clash rarely seen outside the World Cup. The Greek side is «disciplined, determined and well trained,» Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said yesterday. He has taken lessons from Greece’s Euro 2004 victory when it shut out a talented, attacking Portugal team in the final. «We know that they have a pattern of playing which can be very difficult if they counterattack and also at dead-ball situations. We will have to take care of that, otherwise the price will be very high,» he said. Brazil’s team features four players from the 2002 World Cup-winning squad – AC Milan goalkeeper Dida, club teammate Kaka, Bayer Leverkusen defender Roque Junior and 2004 FIFA world player of the year Ronaldinho of FC Barcelona. Parreira is without three star players who are being rested after an exhausting European season – Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Cafu. Still, he can count on some impressive firepower with a strikeforce of Ronaldinho, Kaka, Inter Milan’s Adriano and Santos’s Robinho. Ronaldinho said he was looking forward to some noise. «It’s been too quiet,» Ronaldinho said from the confines of the team’s secluded hotel near Cologne. «I’ve never seen anywhere as quiet as this. We really need a big change.» A crowd of 40,000 will pack the Zentralstadion in Leipzig to give Ronaldinho his wish. Parreira said Ronaldinho would be allowed to roam freely. «He has to have freedom to play and I will give him this freedom because he can make the difference,» the Brazilian coach said. «He is good when he comes from behind with the ball, as he has been doing with Barcelona. He can start in midfield and finish up front, he is everywhere. He needs the whole field to play,» Parreira added. After their shock European championship last year, Greece have struggled in their World Cup qualifying European Group 2 and have slipped to third place. The Greeks will be missing striker Zissis Vryzas, who suffered a broken left hand in a relegation match for his Spanish side Celta Vigo on Sunday. He flew to Germany with his hand in plaster. Coach Otto Rehhagel is expected to replace Vryzas with either in-form Panathinaikos striker Fanis Gekkas, top scorer in the Greek league this past season, or Dimitris Papadopoulos. Greece is also missing defender Traianos Dellas, recovering from hernia surgery, as well as defender Michalis Kapsis, who has a leg problem. Brazil and Greece have met just once in the past, a friendly 0-0 draw in Rio de Janeiro in 1974. The tournament opened yesterday afternoon with a 2-1 victory for Argentina over Tunisia. A second game between Germany and Australia was to be played later last night. (AP, Reuters, AFP)