Old foes aim big in Beijing

Two of the most famous jerseys in football, one age-old rivalry and some of the finest footballers on the planet: the second semi-final at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008, between Brazil and Argentina, has all the makings of a classic. Crucially, the prize for the victors is a place in Saturday's final.

The game
Brazil-Argentina, 19 August, 21.00 (local time), Beijing

The context
This is the first time in over 100 years of competition that two South American sides have faced each other in an Olympic semi-final, although the continent's superpowers did meet at Seoul 1988, when the likes of Claudio Taffarel, Bebeto, Careca and Romario helped Brazil to a 1-0 win.

As for Beijing 2008, both sides have barely put a foot wrong in reaching the last four, having won all four of their respective matches. But with Brazil still to concede a goal in the tournament and Argentina having put together ten consecutive Olympic wins, something has to give on Tuesday.

The cast list for the Beijing blockbuster could hardly be more impressive. Skippering their sides will be Ronaldinho and Juan Roman Riquelme, the symbols of a golden generation of players and the protagonists of one of the most eagerly awaited personal duels of the tournament. The stellar quartet of Alexandre Pato, Sergio Aguero, Diego and Lionel Messi will ensure the pace does not slacken in an encounter that will either see the Albiceleste win the right to defend their title or the Seleção earn a tilt at seizing gold for the first time in their history.

The players to watch: Lionel Messi (ARG) and Diego (BRA)
There is little question that the outcome will hinge to a great extent on the inspiration of these two players, who have been vital to their sides so far in Beijing. The young Barcelona wizard has scored twice for Argentina already, and the Werder Bremen playmaker has been at the heart of the Brazilians' best moves. The question is, who will swing the balance in their side's favour?

The numbers game
2 -
The number of times Brazil and Argentina have met in semi-final ties in the last ten years, both sides claiming a win apiece. The Brazilians came out on top in the FIFA U-20 World Cup United Arab Emirates 2003, while the Albiceleste were celebrating in the same competition two years later in the Netherlands.

The quotes
"It's always special to play against Brazil. They'll be out to win because they've never won a gold medal, but so will we because we want another one. It's true they've beaten us a few times recently, but that's history now and everyone in this squad has been on the winning side against Brazil at least once," Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano.