International Soccer

England and Brazil’s combined XI ahead of March friendly

It’s always a special occasion whenever the great footballing nations of England and Brazil meet, even if only on ‘friendly’ terms.

Ahead of their next meeting at Wembley Stadium on Saturday night, injuries have cut through both squads and weakened their respective pools of players.

That, at least, makes forming a combined XI a bit more interesting. Here are our picks for the squad – if you disagree, just go and look at the state of some of Brazil’s options, alright?

Jordan Pickford

Hello…fancy seeing you here / Visionhaus/GettyImages

On a normal day, Jordan Pickford doesn’t get near this kind of XI. But he’s England’s undisputed number one and both Alisson and Ederson are injured, so he gets the nod almost by default.

At least the Everton goalkeeper has had some iconic moments in an England shirt. He ought to have been a hero after that final penalty shootout at Euro 2020.

Kyle Walker

Walker has amassed 81 caps at senior level / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Is Kyle Walker even England’s best right-back, let alone across both the Three Lions and Brazil?

Probably not at this point, but crucially, he’s actually fit for Saturday’s clash. No offence, Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

John Stones

Here comes Stonesy / Michael Regan/GettyImages

In another life, John Stones would have been born in Rio de Janeiro and spent every day playing beach football at Copacabana. Thankfully, he was born in Barnsley and nurtured by Pep Guardiola.

Hands off, he’s ours.

Bremer

Bremer is the first Brazilian in the team / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Your time will come, Jarrad Branthwaite. Your time has passed, Harry Maguire. Get out of my office, Conor Coady.

Brazil’s first selection in the combined XI comes at centre-back, with Juventus’ Bremer drafted into the team. Seriously, go look at that Selecao squad.

Ben Chilwell

Chilwell has a chance to impress / Nigel French/Allstar/GettyImages

Luke Shaw has long been Gareth Southgate’s undisputed first-choice left-back, but with injury problems arising again, Ben Chilwell has a real opportunity to stake his claim this window.

His closest competition for this spot is the Sunday league version of Roberto Carlos. Go figure.

Declan Rice

Rice is approaching 50 senior England appearances / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

It speaks a lot to Declan Rice’s tremendous quality that he would have been a near-certainty to get into this combined XI even during his days at West Ham United.

Since his move to Arsenal, the 25-year-old has gone from strength to strength and is one of the world’s finest midfielders.

Jude Bellingham

England’s starboy / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

The best player who is almost definitely going to start in a game between England and Brazil is English. It’s a fun thought.

Rodrygo

Rodrygo has impressed at club level / Alex Caparros/GettyImages

Bukayo Saka’s withdrawal from the England squad meant a spot opened up on the right wing.

It had to go to Real Madrid’s Rodrygo, despite his scoring woes at national level, netting only four times in 20 Brazil appearances.

Phil Foden

Foden is likely to start on Saturday / Neal Simpson/Allstar/GettyImages

Speaking of surprisingly poor international records, Manchester City’s Phil Foden has grabbed four goals in 31 England games. How?

A goal on Saturday could go some way to rewriting some narratives about him on the international stage.

Vinicius Junior

Vinicius is now one of the world’s best / Alex Caparros/GettyImages

This is the most surprising of international records yet – only three goals in 26 Brazil games for Vinicius Junior.

That’s definitely going to change and soon enough he’ll be one of their most exciting players, potentially ever. You wouldn’t put it past him lighting up Wembley.

Ollie Watkins

Watkins’ time to shine? / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

Harry Kane is set to miss this match through injury, meaning our options for a striker have been limited to three of a similar level – Richarlison, Ivan Toney and Ollie Watkins.

We’ve given the green light to Watkins based on his performances this season – 22 goals and 10 assists in 41 matches for Aston Villa is mightily impressive.

READ MORE ON ENGLAND’S SQUAD OPTIONS AHEAD OF EURO 2024

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