As we look ahead to July’s Copa America, here’s the second of our three-part preview by the wonderful Ed Malyon, looking at Group B.

There’s not much to say about Brazil that hasn’t been said previously. Mano Menezes is currently using the 4-2-3-1 that’s been very popular in domestic football in the last 18 months. It allows the wealth of attacking talent to all fit into the XI with, of course, plenty in reserve. Santos starlet Neymar plays on the left of the attacking three, most probably alongside Robinho and former Manchester City man, Elano.

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Before kick off, this game had the look of a potential banana skin for the league leaders, and after Leverkusen’s win against Hannover last night, it was important that the away side left the Volkswagen Arena with all three points.

In what turned out to be a comfortable first half for BvB it could have easily been a nightmare start. Lukasz Piczczek brought down Mario Mandzukic just outside the box. Diego stepped up and curled a wicked free kick towards goal, in an attempt to catch Roman Weidenfeller cold, the keeper would have been happy to see the ball fly just past the post.

Dortmund were awoken from their slumber and instantly went on the attack. Overloading the play on the right hand side, Mario Götze was sent clear down the flank, the Wolfsburg defence had been sliced open and Götze had the easy task of squaring the ball to Lucas Barrios and he gave the Champions elect the best possible start.

With most of Dortmund’s attacks coming down the right and left full back Marcel Schmelzer playing well in front of the half way line there was acres of space for Ashkan Dejagah to attack. Too often in the half the midfielder showed a lack of quality and Weidenfeller was never troubled. Grafite was calling out for some service but it never came.

The closest Wolfsburg came to a goal was through the efforts of Brazilian Diego, easily Die Wölfe’s brightest player. Halfway through the first half he hit a fizzing shot from 30 yards, Weidenfeller had to be alert to get his hands to it, the rebound fell to Grafite but the angle was tight and the keeper saved with ease.

Weathering the Wolfsburg storm with ease, Dortmund were in control. Patiently playing the ball around the Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg failed to put any great pressure on the ball, and Dortmund would go into the break two goals to the good.

Mario Götze again was the architect and the Wolfsburg defence had learnt nothing from the first goal. Leaving Barrios in the box unmarked, Götze found him with the pass, the Paraguayan’s shot was blocked but Nuri Sahin was alert and following up the play, his lunging shot swept the ball into the net.

Plenty of work for Steve McLaren to do at half time, however if your defence are going to leave a top International striker alone in the box you are never going to give your forward line the chance to win you the game.

Whatever McLaren said at the interval did have a slight impact. For 25 minutes they had plenty of possession and did a good job holding onto the ball, however for all the play they still couldn’t find a way to trouble Weidenfeller’s goal. Alexander Madlung’s long range effort that went high was the closet that Wolfsburg came to finding the net.

There is an old cliché that is peddled out for games like this, “When you have plenty of the ball, you have to make it count, or you will be punished”. And punished they were. Dortmund won a corner and although the first attempt was blocked it was the mercurial Nuri Sahin that collected the loose ball. The Turkish midfielder then swung in a teasing cross with his magical left foot, the ball was allowed to make its way to the back post, no one had picked up Mats Hummels and he had the easiest job to make it 3-0, game over.

In the end Dortmund as expected had too much for Wolfsburg, the constant movement of Götze, Barrios and Grosskreutz was too much for the poor Wolfsburg defence. At times it was embarrassing to watch, and too often the BvB frontline had acres of time and space to punish their opponents.

After the third goal Jurgen Klopp’s side put the big yellow bus into cruise control, they never looked like adding a fourth, but Wolfsburg never looked like getting past the excellent back line.

New signing Dieumerci Mbokani came on in place of Grafite, and he had a half chance late on, getting his head onto Dejagah’s cross, but he couldn’t direct the header and it glanced safely over the bar.

Constant images of Steve McLaren showed he was at a lose, apart from the defence it wasn’t an entirely poor performance, Diego tried but went missing in the second half, and Grafite hardly had a sniff at goal.

The big yellow machine that is BVB rolls on. Eleven points clear at the top of the table, the loss of Shinji Kagawa – out for the season with a broken metatarsal – doesn’t seem to have knocked them off their stride. Without a Europa League game to worry about it’s looking very unlikely that anyone will catch Klopp’s side. It’s Dortmund’s title to lose.



Gregory van der Wiel – Netherlands – 8 caps (0 goals)

The once troubled centre back was the present that Marco van Basten left on his departure from Ajax, turning Gregory into a full back was a masterstroke, loves to bomb forward and deliver crosses and still has his centre back instincts when it comes to defending, a bit of an unknown quantity in the Dutch team, his name will be well known come July.

Christian Eriksen – Denmark – 3 caps (0 goals)

Described as “one of the hot young prospects in any squad in the World Cup” Christian cause a bit of a interest frenzy in a recent Denmark U-20 game, scouts and agents running for their phones and laptops, only to find out he had already had a tour round Real Madrid’s training complex, not seen him play myself but very intrigued to see what he is capable of.

Shinji Okazaki – Japan – 24 caps (16 goals)

A striker in form, 16 goals in the last year, helping Japan to qualify for the World Cup, saw him for the first time against England in the recent friendly, he had good movement and awareness, a couple of half chances he may have done better with, with service coming from Honda and Nakamura he could have a chance to fire his way into Japanese folklore.

Nicolas N’Koulou – Cameroon – 6 caps (0 goals)

A very promising defender that has come from the same academy as Samuel Eto’o and Carlos Kameni, he recently played at the 2008 Olympics, has recently broke into the starting line-up for his country after an impressive season for Monaco, his performances has led the likes of Arsenal, Lyon, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla to show a interest, I predict more teams to join that list in the coming weeks.


Giampolo Pazzini – Italy – 8 caps (1 goal)

I haven’t personally seen a lot of Giampolo since he scored the first goal at the new Wembley Stadium, he had a great season at Sampdoria this year scoring 30 goals and helping Samp reach the Champions League for the first time since they reached the final at the Old Wembley stadium, looking forward to seeing what he can do in the Azzuri blue this summer.

Lucas Barrios – Paraguay – 3 caps (3 goals)

This is a player I am excited for, it could be one of those fairytale stories, moved to Borussia Dortmund from Colo-Colo last summer and he’s had a great season 19 goals in one of Dortmund’s best seasons for a while, I thought he was going to be in the same situation as Darren Bent, scoring goals in the league and not going to the World Cup, but then the Argentinean born forward got a life-line, he received his Paraguayan nationality in March (his mother is from Paraguay) then had to denounce his Argentinean nationality as the country doesn’t recognise Dual-Nationalities.

Lucas hasn’t looked back 3 goals in 3 games, known as being a penalty box predator also good in the air, is the script written for Barrios to lead Paraguay to a place in football history, a Quarter-Final place would be a great result.

Winston Reid – New Zealand – 3 caps (0 goals)

A player I have never seen play, but doing some research I picked him as my All-White player to watch, born in New Zealand but moved to Denmark when he was 10 this towering centre back made waves in Danish football and played for Denmark for the U-19, U-20 and U-21, however in march he declared he would play for New Zealand and made himself available for selection, making the 23 man squad he made his debut against Austrailia in a friendly match, impressing manager Ricki Herbert in his performance.

He has played 85 games for Danish club side FC Midtjylland at only 21 he sounds like a great prospect.

Miroslav Stoch – Slovakia – 12 caps (1 goal)

Another young exciting prospect due to make his bow at the World Cup, was signed for Chelsea in 2006 at 16 years old, spent 3 years in the reserves making 4 senior appearances, he was then sent to Dutch club FC Twente on loan under the tutelage of Steve McClaren, playing 32 games scoring 10 goals and lifting the Dutch title, not a bad season.

Miroslav mirrors his game on the skills of Ronaldinho and Ronaldo, which combines to a winger that loves to score goals, this talent has lead him to change club again, signing with Fenerbahce for next season, I have no doubt he will be a star in Turkey, a player for Italy and Paraguay to fear come June, he will for sure turn a few heads.