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Head to head: Boys from Brazil

Wednesday night’s encounter between Middlesbrough and Manchester City throws up a head-to-head between two Fobazo stars, Brazilian duo Afonso Alves and Robinho.

Both players arrived in England this year with reputations that went before them: Afonso as Europe’s most prolific striker; Robinho as one of the world’s most talented all-round attacking talents.

Both are their respective club’s record signings; indeed, Robinho is the most expensive player in the history of the English game.

Afonso scored six goals in the last six games of last season; Robinho has scored six in his first six of the current season.

And both players have already notched up hat-tricks in the Premier League. Robinho’s came just days ago, in City’s 3-0 victory over Stoke City. Afonso meanwhile claimed the match ball on the final day of the last season, contributing three goals in an 8-1 mauling…of Manchester City at the Riverside.

Afonso will be out to prove lightning can strike twice, and should be full of confidence after scoring a beauty on the road at Blackburn at the weekend. Robinho, who was still plying his trade in Spain when it struck last time around, will be out to ensure that any celebratory Sambas at the Riverside on Wednesday night are by the Brazilian boys in light blue.

Afonso may be less feted than his compatriot, but his record at club level is more prolific, averaging an impressive overall ratio of two goals every three games.

While in Holland, where he enjoyed his most prolific spell to date, he managed to score 34 goals in just 31 games in the 2006/07 season, finishing second to Roma’s Francesco Totti in the race for the Golden Boot. And he would have won it had it not been for Italian football’s higher goal weighting. His scoring feats for Heerenveen earned him the nickname ‘Mr Goal A Game’.

Robinho, meanwhile, has an overall scoring average closer to one every three games, but he often plays, as he has been doing for Man City, as an attacking midfielder or a second striker, and creating chances and goals for others is a major part of his game.

In addition to the ability to score sublime goals, from inside the box as he did against Stoke City last weekend, or from long range, like his pile-driver for Brazil against Colombia earlier this month, Robinho has a magnificent repertoire of tricks and skills, hence his nickname the ‘The Stepover King’.

Battle of the Brazilians

AFONSO ALVES v ROBINHO

Age: 27 – 24
Height: 1.85m – 1.72m
Weight: 74kg – 60kg
Nickname: Mr Goal a Game – The Stepover King
Cost: £12.7m – £32.5m
Previous club: Heerenveen – Real Madrid
Total club appearances/goals
(domestic league/Europe):
178/114 – 233/78
Strike rate: 0.65 – 0.33
Premier League appearances/goals: 24/8 – 6/6
Strike rate: 0.33 – 1.00
International caps/goals: 8/1 – 56/17
Strike rate: 0.13 – 0.30
Hat-tricks: 8 – 2

Most goals scored in one game:
Afonso: 7, for Heerenveen v Heracles Almelo, 7 October 2007 (9-0)
Robinho: 3, for Brazil v Chile, 15 June 2007 (3-0) and for Man City v Stoke City, 26 October 2008 (3-0)

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