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Last friendlies offer coaches time to act
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 17 - 11 - 2010

LONDON: International soccer coaches often complain they are under too much pressure and do not have the time to experiment but Wednesday's friendlies offer them the perfect chance to try out new players and tactics.
World Cup year ends with a flurry of almost 30 friendlies and although there are two Euro 2012 qualifiers, that competition does not begin in earnest again until March. In the breathing space a number of coaches are trying out new names.
One match, though, in which they are unlikely to take many risks, is the game of the week between South American rivals Brazil and Argentina in Qatar – a very different venue for Brazil whose last game was in the more earthy setting of Derby County's Pride Park where they beat Ukraine 2-0.
Prestige and victory is always high in the minds of the participants, even for a friendly which offers Argentina the chance to beat Brazil for the first time since a 3-1 home win during the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup.
Brazil's new coach Mano Menezes, working to restore their free-flowing attacking game, has made one bold decision, however – recalling Ronaldinho who was overlooked by World Cup coach Dunga and last played for his country in April 2009.
He wants Ronaldinho to link his experience with the young promise of Neymar.
Another old rivalry will be renewed at Wembley Stadium where England faces France which beat it 2-0 on its last visit to Wembley in 1999.
Both countries had hugely disappointing World Cup campaigns, and while new France coach Laurent Blanc is well into reconstructing a new squad England coach Fabio Capello is slowly introducing fresh faces.
Turkey's Dutch coach Guus Hiddink is also using Wednesday's match against the Netherlands as a test following Turkey's humiliating 1-0 defeat to Azerbaijan in their last Euro 2012 qualifier.
World champion Spain, and Portugal, who jointly hope to land the 2018 World Cup finals when FIFA votes on Dec. 2, will be rivals in Lisbon Wednesday with Portugal coach Paulo Bento unlikely to experiment too much with his 18

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