It’s a top-of-the-table clash in the Confederations Cup Saturday evening, when first placed Brazil take on second placed Italy.
Semi-final qualification has already been assured for both sides, with them having taken maximum points from their respective fixtures against Mexico and Japan. Still plenty rides on the outcome, however – the winners look likely to avoid European and World champions Spain in the final four.
Brazil currently top the group owing to superior goal difference, with a 3 goal cushion going into the game. A draw or better would therefore see the 5-time world champions win Group A, and more than likely avoid the Spaniards in the semi-finals.
Italy, meanwhile, are seeking to snatch the points and take the top spot, gaining a degree of revenge on their opponents for the last time these two sides met, at the previous Confederations Cup. In that game, then-reigning World Champions Italy needed to beat the Brazilians to stay in the competition, but fell short and hopped on the plane home earlier than expected.
Brazil midfielder, Tottenham-bound Paulinho, looks set to miss out on the game after spraining his left ankle. Chelsea defender David Luiz is expected to feature despite suffering a broken nose in the clash with Mexico.
Andrea Pirlo is ruled out for Italy with a leg injury, and Daniele De Rossi is suspended after being booked in both previous group games. This paves the way for Antonio Candreva and Alessio Cerci to start for the Azzurri.
Brazil boss Luis Felipe Scolari has revealed that he would like to stick with the same team if he can, meaning that former Man City striker Jo is likely to feature on the bench yet again. He has scored twice in two appearances so far in the competition, which has seen his participation hit only 17 minutes thus far.
Italy are likely to shuffle their pack after struggling against Japan, however, where they managed to snatch a 4-3 victory. Head coach Cesare Prandelli said of his selection: “The problem is getting some of the physical freshness back. We need to be able to play the next match with the same levels of determination and fitness.”
However finishes second in Group A will go on to face Spain, while the group winners will face either Nigeria or Uruguay from Group B.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Brazil