Elano does not hold fond memories of the last time he started a game for Brazil. Then, in a friendly in Boston, Massachusetts little over four months ago, Venezuela ran out 2-0 winners to record their first-ever victory over A Seleção in 18 attempts.
With Diego suspended and Ronaldinho dropped, however, Dunga is set to restore the Manchester City attacking midfielder to his starting line-up for Brazil's ninth 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier on Sunday. Standing in their way, ironically, are Venezuela, who will out to repeat their neutral-ground upset in the comfort of their own home: the Estadio Pueblo Nuevo in San Cristobal.
There, Elano will strive to realise two objectives: to help his country to victory and stake his claim for an extended run in the side. "I have another opportunity," commented the 27-year-old. "I'm calm and prepared for this game. ."
The City No11 has recorded three goals and two assists in six appearances in the English Premier League this season, and the expectation is that he and Kaka will play behind a front two of Robinho and Adriano against La Vinotinto. However, the former Santos and Shakhtar Donetsk player's inclusion owes much to his defensive qualities.
"Elano is a playmaker who also helps out with the marking," said Dunga. "When you're not in possession it's important to have as many players as possible behind the ball."
Brazil are second in the South American Zone standings, four points behind Paraguay and above Argentina and Chile on goal difference. Venezuela sit third-bottom of the ten-team group, six points behind the five-time world champions.