Italy-Brazil Preview: Azzurri hoping to end over 30 winless years against the Selecao
The European powerhouse will be desperate to defeat the Canarinho having not emerged victorious since eliminating them en route to winning the World Cup in 1982
By Tom Webber
Barzagli, Bonucci, Ranocchia
Abate, Marchisio, Montolivo, Giaccherini
Balotelli, El Shaarawy
Dani Alves, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Filipe
Fernando, Luiz Gustavo
Hulk, Oscar, Neymar
Italy and Brazil go toe-to-toe on Thursday evening, with Cesare Prandelli hoping to guide his side to their first victory against the South American giants in over 30 years.
However, the Azzurri coach is unlikely to be able to call upon powerful centre-back Giorgio Chiellini who is a doubt for the match after aggravating an ankle problem in training. Therefore Andrea Ranocchia could be in line for a starting spot in defence.
Prandelli is expected to start with AC Milan team-mates Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy in attack, while Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio and Riccardo Montolivo should form the midfield.
Luiz Felipe Scolari has had a number of injury problems to contest with following his second squad selection since replacing Mano Menezes as coach of Brazil.
Lucas Moura withdrew after taking a knock while representing Paris Saint-Germain against Nancy earlier this month, but was replaced by another pacy wide player in Sao Paulo's Osvaldo. Deep-lying midfield duo Paulinho and Ramires have both pulled out due to injury, and so a previously untested pairing of Fernando and Luiz Gustavo will feature in front of the back four.
Scolari has been testing out a 3-5-2 formation in training but it is more likely that he will begin with the tried and tested 4-2-3-1 line-up.
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Italy have not tasted victory against Thursday's opponents for over 30 years. A Paolo Rossi hat-trick guided the Azzurri to a 3-2 win in the 1982 World Cup.
An outing for Gianluigi Buffon will take him to within one appearance of the second most-capped Italy player ever, Paolo Maldini.
- Mario Balotelli has been in scintilating form since joining AC Milan in January with seven goals in six Serie A appearances for the Rossoneri.
- Brazil ran out as 3-0 winners when these two nations last met in the 2009 Confederations Cup. Only three players from the squad for that game could feature on Thursday.
- The Selecao famously defeated the Azzurri on penalties to win the World Cup in 1994. Roberto Baggio (pictured right) missed the decisive spot kick.
Scolari lost his first game back at the helm of the national team as Brazil succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of England last month.
- Brazil are currently in 18th position in the Fifa Rankings, their lowest rating since the classification's inception.
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