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The fierce South American rivals clash on Saturday afternoon in the United States, the first meeting with full teams since Messi's wondergoal decided proceedings in 2010

By Daniel Edwards | South American Football Editor

Although the top billing that would usually be afforded to these two titans of football has been stolen by the start of Euro 2012, when Argentina and Brazil meet the world stands up and pays attention. One of the planet's fiercest and most enduring rivalries is renewed on Saturday in New Jersey, with a full-strength Albiceleste team meeting the men Mano Menezes will take the Selecao to their first ever gold medal in the London Olympics.

Even if the Brazil team has a somewhat youthful flavour to it, some of the finest players in the world will be on show in the United States. identifies the most fascinating battles that will be fought across the 90 minutes.


In electrifying form against Ecuador as Argentina dominated proceedings in the World Cup qualifier, the incomparable Barcelona man will have even more attacking responsibility against the Scratch as he prepares to line up as one half of an attacking duo expected to be completed by Gonzalo Higuain or Kun Aguero. One goal and two fantastic assists represented a magnificent performance last week, and there is no doubt that, from a Brazilian point of view, 'La Pulga' is the man they have to shackle in order to triumph.

Inter youngster Juan is yet to convince in the heart of defence, which means the burden falls on Thiago Silva to make sure Messi cannot get the space he thrives on. The most experienced member of Mano's squad must stay disciplined and not be dragged away by the Argentine's wanderings further up the field, defending deep and effectively to stop the runners itching to be released by his brilliant left foot.


Just as with Messi, it is almost an exercise in redundancy to tie Neymar down to one particular position on the field. The Santos wonderkid loves to bear in from the left flank, but is equally at ease causing havoc down the centre or switching wings, and the budding partnership he has formed in this latest tour with Marcelo and Oscar will pose a constant danger.

Pablo Zabaleta will be the man charged with pinning down the 20-year-old and denying him the space to dominate his sector of the pitch. It is the Manchester City player's first meeting with Neymar, but he could do a lot worse than watch a tape of the Peixe's clash with Velez Sarsfield in the Copa Libertadores. Teenage full-back Gino Peruzzi frustrated his rival with perhaps the finest defensive display against the Brazilian since Barcelona's Club World Cup rout, and it is this constant pressing and heavy tackling that Zabaleta will have to emulate.


Talk during the week suggested that the former Argentina captain could be in line to start in the middle of a back five, but instead Masche will take up his habitual position anchoring the midfield against a dynamic Brazilian attack. The player who will give him the most headaches is the slender, hard-working playmaker who so far has proved worthy of the No. 10 given to him in the friendlies.

Oscar has been starved of game time thanks to a contract dispute between Internacional and former club Sao Paulo but you would never have guessed, watching him calmly rip the United States and Denmark defences to piece in the previous meetings. The 21-year-old almost never misses a pass and is constantly looking for runners. He also has the work rate and determination to press right from the opposition penalty area.


The case of Federico Fernandez is an interesting one. The 23-year-old central defender impressed as a youngster with Estudiantes, but featured only sporadically in his first season for Napoli and left plenty of doubt over his quality in the eyes of Serie A observers. Sabella, however, trusts his former protege in La Plata enough to place him in the backline alongside equally inexperienced Ezequiel Garay, and first impressions suggest that it is a youthful partnership with great potential.

But then again, neither has faced a player quite like the storming Hulk at international level. The Porto man combines astonishing pace and power with no little skill on the ball, and so far in this tour has thrived on the service handed to him by the likes of Oscar and Neymar. Fernandez will have to match his rival physically and not become intimidated if he wants to stay on top.


It is a testament to the strength in depth Brazil possess out wide that someone with the potential and talent of Manchester United's Rafael can only be realistically considered fourth-choice at right back. In the enforced absence of Dani Alves, Porto's Danilo was given the chance to start against Denmark, the US and Mexico, but it will be the former Fluminense trainee that is charged with patrolling the flank on Saturday.

Having spent such a large part of his football education in England, the 21-year-old betrays his European background in how he approaches the full-back position. Unlike Alves, Danilo or Maicon Rafael is more reluctant to bomb up the wing in negligence of his defensive duties; meaning Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria will have to work even harder to open up space out wide as he did so effectively against Ecuador.

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