It has been a long campaign, but two important events still remain on the football calendar: the final round of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifying matches of the season on 7 June and the FIFA Confederations Cup, which runs from 15 to 30 June, also staged in Brazil.
In order to prepare for these challenges and to run the rule over their squads, the coaches involved will embark on a number of friendly matches between 28 May and 9 June. FIFA.com takes a closer look at these international duels.
The big match
Brazil-England, 2 June, Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro
Luiz Felipe Scolari is fast running out of time in his mission to reinvigorate the Brazilian national team. Nearly four months after his first match in charge, a 2-1 defeat by England at Wembley, he is likely to use the ‘return’ match at the Maracana in order to gain some revenge, provide the Verde e Amarelo with a confidence boost, make an initial assessment of the progress to date and try to get an idea of his starting XI for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
There are 11 players in Scolari’s squad who ply their trade in the Brazilian League, including four – all in their early 20s – who have not yet worn the colours of a foreign club: Bernard (Atletico Mineiro), Fernando (Gremio), Leandro Damiao (Internacional) and Neymar (Santos), Barcelona's newest recruit.
The other games
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque will take all of the players selected for the FIFA Confederations Cup to Miami. During La Roja’s penultimate warm-up match against Haiti, he intends to rotate his squad so as to give a break to certain Real Madrid and Barcelona stars, who normally make up three quarters of the team.
Didier Deschamps, meanwhile, whose France side will serve as a sparring partner for Uruguay and Brazil, is continuing his quest to reduce the average age of his side. Consequently, he has handed first-time call-ups to three 22-year-olds, namely Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala, Josuha Guilavogui, who is coming off the back of an excellent season with Saint-Etienne, and Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette, a former youth international.
Finally, Belgium have travelled to the United States, to the sports centre at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, to prepare for their FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Serbia on 7 June. After a week of training, Les Diables Rouges will test themselves against the United States, for whom iconic attacker Landon Donovan – left out by Jurgen Klinsmann with Brazil 2014 qualifiers versus Jamaica, Panama and Honduras in mind – will not feature.
1 – Since taking over at the helm of Brazil on 29 November, a week after they suffered a 2-1 reverse in Argentina, Luiz Scolari’s record makes for disappointing reading: one victory, three draws and one loss.
What they said
“In my opinion, a multi-ethnic Italy is the future. These players bring us something extra, they improve our level and they enable us to see things from a new angle,” Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, referring to Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy.
Have your say
Ideally, who should start up front for Brazil?