Calling on all the experience that 30 years of age and 74 caps for Brazil brings, Juan Silveira dos Santos knows better than most the pressure that comes with pulling on the canary-yellow jersey. The Roma centre-back is also well aware of the size of the task that awaits A Seleção come 5 September, when Dunga's charges visit Argentina in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
The eagerly anticipated game this Saturday will be the third FIFA World Cup preliminary meeting between the South American powerhouses on Argentinian soil. An unused substitute in the first of these and a starter in the second, with both previous games in Buenos Aires's mythical Estadio Monumental, Juan was unable to prevent a Brazilian defeat on both occasions.
On 5 September 2001, Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil side went down 2-1 in the midst of a crisis of confidence, and results that meant few imagined them becoming world champions less than one year later at Korea/Japan 2002. On 8 June 2005, with Juan starting the match this time, La Albiceleste ran out 3-1 winners to become the first South American team to clinch their place at Germany 2006.
At Rosario's Gigante de Arroyito stadium, therefore, Brazil have a golden opportunity to claim their first FIFA World Cup qualifying success in Argentina and seal their place at South Africa 2010 in the process. A win would also put Diego Maradona's charges in even greater jeopardy of missing out on the global showpiece. With the vital showdown just days away, Juan spoke exclusively to FIFA.com about his previous visits to Argentina and the challenge facing his nation.
FIFA.com: Juan, what do you remember about those games in 2001 and 2005?
Juan: I recall that the 2001 game was a really tight match, a typical Brazil-Argentina battle in which they came from behind to win. For me, a draw would have been the fairest result. In 2005 we had an awful first 15 minutes and conceded three goals without reply. Then we tipped the balance back our way and had opportunities to leave Buenos Aires with a better result than a 3-1 defeat.
Aside from these two games, Brazil have a good recent record against Argentina. In 2005, just 20 days after that 3-1 defeat, you stormed to a 4-1 success in the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup. Is playing them on their own turf what makes the difference?
Argentina are always difficult opponents. They're full of confidence at home but that's par for the course with every good team. We need to stop them getting stronger as the game goes on, something that happened the last two times we played there. The key will be our ability to dictate the pace of the game from the outset.
Would it be extra special to book your place at South Africa 2010 with a victory over Brazil's fiercest rivals?
Our top priority is qualifying for the World Cup and that's what we're going after, whoever our opponents may be. If the match in which we can achieve that goal comes against Argentina, then all the better. We'll do everything we can to book our passage as soon as possible and take the pressure off our remaining qualifiers. But remember, whether it's a friendly game or a competitive match you're always motivated when pulling on the Brazil shirt. It has to be that way.
Does the presence of Maradona on the Argentina bench make the occasion even more special?
Maradona was a tremendous player, who shares a beautiful history with the Argentinian national team. On the same note, Dunga and Brazil have a history of their own. Neither will be on the pitch this time, however. We respect Maradona for everything he stands for in the world game but we've also got a great coach, which puts us on an equal footing once the game begins.
There has been a lot of speculation that Brazil will be under more pressure in the Estadio Gigante de Arroyito than they would have been at the Monumental. Could this factor be decisive?
It all depends on how we approach the game and how we play. If we don't let ourselves be intimidated and impose our usual way of playing on the game, then we've got a great chance of coming away with a good result. We know that the supporters are closer to the pitch in Rosario, and that alone creates a more pressurised atmosphere. But Brazil-Argentina games are always tense and tough, wherever they are played.
Brazil have always been famed for their attacking ability. Nowadays, however, the defensive axis of you, Lucio and keeper Julio Cesar has been earning equal praise. Do you think Dunga has managed to get the balance just right?
I think that Brazil started placing a greater value on its defenders after Germany 2006. Dunga has had a huge part to play in this, because he's made everybody feel equally important. For him, defenders are just as decisive as strikers, and that wasn't the case before (he took over). Those of us at the back know what he wants from us and that fills us with confidence. The fact that a variety of players were given a chance at the recent Confederations Cup and that they all did a really good job just proves that.
As a key member of that defensive line, what's your verdict on the Argentinian forward trio of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez?
I'm in no doubt that they are among the best players in the world and coming up against them will be very tough. But on the other hand, Argentina have cause for concern given that Robinho, Kaka and Luis Fabiano are all in exceptional form. Both countries have individual talents capable of deciding any game, so it'll be just as difficult for us as it is for them.