The final round of games in Group A of the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 pits Brazil and Italy together in the latest instalment of their long-running rivalry. Both sides go into the game with six points out of six and have already clinched their places in the semi-finals. The only issue at stake in Saturday’s meeting is who goes through as group winners.
Italy-Brazil, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Saturday 22 June, 16:00 (Brasilia time)
Brazil have made the most of playing at home. Spurred on by packed stadiums and inspired by the goals and trickery of the quicksilver Neymar, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side comfortably beat Japan and Mexico, while ensuring that keeper Julio Cesar had little to do between the posts. Yet to concede, A Seleção have the edge over the Italians in terms of goal difference and need only a draw to top the group.
Italy have not had it so easy to date. Indebted to a late Mario Balotelli goal as they squeezed past Mexico, they then found themselves 2-0 down to the Japanese on Wednesday. Only a determined fightback, capped by Sebastian Giovinco’s winner four minutes from time, kept them level with the Brazilians at the top of the section.
Though La Azzurra have leaked goals and looked less secure than the hosts, they now have the chance to steal top spot, safe in the knowledge that a semi-final slot is already theirs.
11 - The number of goals Brazil and Italy have scored between them in their two group games. Neymar and Mario Balotelli are their respective leading scorers with two goals apiece, both players finding the net against Mexico and Japan.
“We had to work really hard in intense heat and it’s important that we get some rest now and recharge our batteries for the Brazil game. It was a brave win [Wednesday’s 4-3 defeat of Japan], but we’ll need to be much more organised and vigilant in the future,” Italy coach Cesare Prandelli.
“We need to work on a few things but I’m very pleased with the spirit, unity and strength of the team. The fans saw that too and we’re building a strong and solid team,” Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.