Neymar-Mario Balotelli showdown on tap at Confederations Cup

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Brazil and Italy have won nine World Cup titles together. Two of the five Brazilian titles came in finals against the Italians — in 1970 and 1994. Friday marked 43 years of the 1970 World Cup title.

“It’s a classic in world football,” Brazil midfielder Hernanes said. “These are two of the most traditional national teams in the world. It’s always a match with a lot involved, with a lot of tradition.”

Brazil and Italy are tied with six points atop Group A, but the hosts are ahead on goal difference and can secure first place with a draw on Saturday. Italy has to beat Brazil to likely avoid Spain, which is leading Group B.

“We are not thinking about Spain at all,” Prandelli said. “If we have to play Spain, we will talk about it later.”

Although Neymar and Balotelli are set to start on Saturday, both teams will be without key players for the match at the Arena Fonte Nova.

Italy will miss star midfielder Andrea Pirlo, who is nursing a strained right leg muscle, adding to Prandelli’s problems in midfield. The coach also won’t be able to count on Daniele De Rossi, who is suspended after receiving two yellow cards.

Scolari will be without defensive midfielder Paulinho because of a left ankle sprain sustained in the match against Mexico. Doctors said the injury is not serious but the player will be left out so he can fully recover ahead of the semifinals.

Chelsea defender David Luiz sustained what the Brazilian federation called a “minor fracture” in his nose after being hit in the face against Mexico, but he is set to play on Saturday despite the injury.

Scolari said he may replace Daniel Alves and captain Thiago Silva because they already have received yellow cards, and there’s also a possibility the coach will rest playmaker Oscar, who has played a lot with Chelsea this season.

 

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