International Friendly: Argentina v Brazil Preview

Argentina-Brazil-Preview

Our writer previews the international friendly contested between South American rivals Argentina and Brazil. 

Perhaps the fiercest of international football rivalries takes place in Australia with a newly-led Argentina locking horns with illustrious Brazil. Few matches between these two proud footballing nations would ever be deemed ‘friendlies’ and the 99,000 fans set to pack into the MCG to lay eyes on some of the best talent that world of football has to offer will most certainly get their money’s worth.

International Friendly | Friday 9 June | Melbourne Cricket Ground | 12:05

To Win (90 Mins)
Argentina 31/20 | Draw 43/20 | Brazil 7/4



Argentina
After just a year in charge of Sevilla - finishing fourth in La Liga - Jorge Sampaoli heeded the call of his country and was unveiled as the new manager of Argentina recently. He replaces the much-maligned Edgardo Bauza, a chief complaint being that the side looked ‘directionless’.

La Albiceleste are at serious risk of missing out on automatic qualification to the next World Cup with only two wins from their last seven matches. It is no coincidence that an attack-minded and adaptable manager such as Sampaoli was sought. A high-press will be adopted with the instruction to provide quality supply to Lionel Messi. It simply remains to be seen whether he can knit the squad together.

Javier Mascherano was named as a defender on the initial squad list, suggesting that Sampaoli wants a more mobile midfield who can move the ball at pace. Ever Banega of Inter Milan looks set to take up the traditional Argentine holding midfield role, while the presence of Mauro Icardi satisfies the long-suffering calls for the centre-forward’s inclusion. That provides frightening back up to Gonzalo Higuain with Juventus’ Paulo Dybala also set to feature in attacking midfield.

The likes of Angel di Maria and Nicolas Otamendi add gloss to a squad that hardly needs it. It is not the ideal opening fixture for the new manager - he will need to impress his philosophy on the squad quickly with an opponent of such quality. However, it will be the best preparation for four more World Cup qualifying matches, starting with a tough away game in Uruguay.



Brazil
Brazil travel to Australia without talisman Neymar, after manager Tite stressed his need for rest with a demanding season ahead prior to the World Cup in 2018. The manager has also seen fit to leave out defenders Marquinhos and Dani Alves for similar reasons. That is not to say that Brazil do not have a strong squad for their two friendly matches down under, with a veritable smorgasbord of talent on display.

Alex Sandro, Rafinha, David Luiz and Thiago Silva will all vie for a place in defence, with midfield options including the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Fernandinho, Paulinho and Willian. In attack, Douglas Costa and the irrepressible Gabriel Jesus are options, while Taison from Shakhtar Donetsk also gets the nod. Jesus is the only out-and-out forward and will likely start up front.

Having won 10 of their 14 World Cup qualifying matches, losing only once, Brazil were the first team to qualify for 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia other than the hosts. Following the sacking of Dunga after Brazil’s poor performance at the latest Copa America, Tite has presided over nine matches and won all of them.

Brazil have scored 25 goals in this term and conceded only twice. Tite has now become something of a national hero with humorous calls for him to add the country’s presidency to his resume. While it is still too soon to tell whether he has managed to resurrect Selecao to their former might, his tendency for youthful exuberance in the squad will surely excite the Brazilian faithful.

Verdict: Both Teams to Score (8/10)
In a friendly of this magnitude between two quality opponents, it is always a toss of the coin when trying to select a winner. After a trying season, there may be a few tired legs on the pitch but there should be a fair amount of rotation as well. The atmosphere will be electric at the ground and I don’t see any shortage of goals with the amount of talent on display, 8/10 looks a good price for both to hit the net.

Written by Rick John Henry @Hollywoodbets

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