Toulon Tournament Preview: Brazil U23 -v- Republic of Ireland U21

Wed, Jun 12 2019

The Ireland team in a huddle before March's European qualifier against Luxembourg. Credit: Eddie Lennon (ETPhotos)

BRAZIL U23

Eight-time winners Brazil face semi-final virgins the Republic of Ireland in the second semi-final of the 2019 Toulon Tournament (kick-off 4.30pm Irish time).

André Jardine’s side swept all before them in the group stages with 4-0 wins over Guatemala and hosts France, and a 5-0 victory over Qatar.

Striker Matheus Cunha is tied for the tournament’s top scorer on three goals, while Mateus Vital and Paulinho have both scored twice.

Striker Bruno Tabata, who started the first two games, misses out with a thigh strain but Jardine has an otherwise full squad from which to select.

Brazil took the unusual step of naming their starting eleven the night before the game: Ivan; Emerson, Murilo, Lyanco, Iago; Douglas Luiz, Matheus Henrique, Pedrinho; Antony, Paulinho, Cunha.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U21

The Republic of Ireland head into their first-ever Toulon Tournament semi-final as massive underdogs despite an impressive performance in topping Group C.

Stephen Kenny’s side conceded just one goal on their way to collecting seven points from a possible nine and come into the game in confident mood.

A nervy Irish side just about clinched top spot in the group thanks to a 1-0 win over Bahrain on Sunday thanks to Connor Ronan’s deflected free kick.

That left Ireland as second seeds which, somewhat confusingly, set them up for a final four tie with top seeds Brazil.

“To top the group and now to have Brazil on Wednesday, we’re looking forward to it,” captain Jayson Molumby told the association’s media channels.

“We’ve done so well to get here and we’re going out with the mentality that we have nothing to lose.

“No one expects us to get anything against Brazil only us. We’re the only ones who actually believe.

“I think it’s just an Irish thing in general – we believe we can put it up to the best in the world and we’re going to go and give it a good try.”

Zack Elbouzedi has returned to Ireland after dislocating his shoulder falling awkwardly in the win over Bahrain.

The Waterford winger’s absence means Kenny is without his two first-choice wingers after Neil Farrugia pulled out with a hamstring injury before the tournament began.

Referee: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre

MATCH STATS

Brazil went through their qualifying group without conceding a single goal, scoring 13 in total.

The goal conceded in the 4-1 opening day win over China PR is the only goal Ireland have conceded so far, with five in the plus category for Stephen Kenny’s side.

BETTING

Brazil U23 1/12; Draw 11/2; Republic of Ireland U21 13/1.

PREDICTION

Brazil U23 2 – 1 Republic of Ireland U21

Brazil U23

Injured: Bruno Tabata.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.

Republic of Ireland U21

Injured: Zack Elbouzedi (shoulder), Neil Farrugia (hamstring).

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.