It is hard to contemplate Tuesday's Group G match-up between Brazil and Korea DPR at Ellis Park without entering into the realms of cliché – tournament favourites against complete outsiders, David meets Goliath. Yet the first ever meeting of this hugely contrasting pair, the five-time world champions and the lowest-ranked of the 32 qualifiers – the North Koreans are 85th in the world – holds plenty of intrigue.
On paper there should be only one outcome, with evidence of the disparity in pedigree everywhere. Brazil, the only country to have taken part in every edition of the global showpiece, are entering their 19th FIFA World Cup™; Korea DPR are returning to the world stage for the first time since their debut appearance in 1966. Under Dunga, the South Americans booked their place in South Africa with three games to spare while coach Kim Jong-Hun's side left it until the closing match to seal qualification with a goalless draw against Saudi Arabia.
Brazil's build-up has featured five straight friendly wins – indeed since their successful defence of last year’s FIFA Confederation World Cup here in South Africa, they have recorded eight wins in ten matches played. Korea DPR, by contrast, were often found wanting in their eleven warm-up matches which yielded just two victories. Brazil's attacking quality – their lineup features such talents as Kaka and Luis Fabiano – needs little introduction and should ensure some baptism of fire for the East Asian team, who are expected to stick with the defensive 5-4-1 formation they employed to hold off the likes of Iran and Saudi Arabia en route to qualification. Still, those with longer memories would not risk writing off the North Koreans, who stunned Italy to reach the last eight on their finals debut in England 44 years ago.
Players to watch
Luis Fabiano v Ri Jun-Il
Luis Fabiano will be eager to maintain the form that brought him nine goals in eleven qualifying games – as well as 15 in 23 Liga outings for Sevilla in 2009/10. Trying to contain the free-scoring No9 represents the toughest task yet for the cool-headed Ri Jun-Il, the 22-year-old who will continue his sweeper role in front of goalkeeper Ri Myong-Guk.
29 – Dunga's experienced squad is the oldest in the FIFA World Cup, averaging 29 years and 60 days, while Kim's men are the third youngest (25 years and 140 days).
What they say
"The responsibility is always bigger for Brazil so we will face a lot of difficulties in our first game. There's an anxiety to record our first win but the most important thing is how the team should perform on the pitch to avoid any upset," Gilberto Silva, Brazil midfielder.
Voice of the fans
"North Korea will definitely show no less than full determination. However, experience is what they lack and Brazil is very familiar with the World Cup. But still, a game is not won on paper, any team can win on any given day at any place," FIFA.com user Attacker17.
Brazil have lost merely two of their previous 18 opening games at FIFA World Cups – back in 1930 and 1934. Can their little-known opponents really stun the planet by making it three?