Brazil midfielder Julio Baptista says his side are expecting more space to play their brand of football in their pivotal Group G game with Côte d'Ivoire on Sunday, having been afforded little room against Korea DPR before eventually prevailing in their opener at Ellis Park on Tuesday.
Dunga's team are not expecting such rigid marking this weekend at Soccer City against Les Elephants in the first of their two big examinations in what's been termed the 'Group of Death'. They follow up their game against Côte d'Ivoire with a tantalising encounter with Portugal in Durban on 25 June.
Baptista, who didn't feature against Korea DPR, said Côte d'Ivoire would pose Brazil's biggest obstacle so far at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. "I think they will come against us and they will try to play," said the 28-year-old. "Brazil will have enough space to play its own football."
The AS Roma midfielder, who has been in and out of the Brazil side since his debut in 2001, said the Africans will pose an attacking threat. "This will be our most difficult game because of the way the Ivory Coast play their football," he said.
"The Ivory Coast players are physically strong and most of them play their club football in Europe and they know our style of play. We also know most of them but we will watch videos of their matches and see what our coach prepares for us. We will try to neutralise their game and try to do our best."
Baptista has had to bide his time as Kaka's understudy in the Brazilian squad in South Africa, but has been given some encouragement from teammate Robinho. "Kaka is great - he can win a game on his own on his day," said Robinho.
But he insists that "Brazil have excellent footballers who can come in in his place". "Julio Baptista has been training really well and he can take on Kaka's role as he did at the Copa America," he said.
Baptista said he is ready to step in if coach Dunga decides to replace Kaka, who has had an injury-plagued season at Real Madrid, but believes the 2007 World Player of the Year is about to reach his best form after months of setbacks.
"His toughest time in rehabilitation is behind him. He's in good form now," he said. "He's very calm and doing his best to give his all for the team. I'm convinced that he do everything possible to help us."
Kaka lasted 77 minutes against Korea DPR before he was substituted with Dunga admitting that he was not yet ready to play an entire 90 minutes. The Brazilian playmaker is recovering his touch after a left thigh injury.