By Declan Taylor
Emirates Stadium plays host to a genuine clash of the titans on Tuesday night when world champions Italy meet five-time World Cup winners Brazil.
This re-run of the 1994 and 1970 Finals is the 13th meeting of the two footballing heavyweights. And, with five victories each, the encounter represents an opportunity to land a point-scoring jab against an old adversary.
With Serie A a recent haven for the best Brazilian footballers, there will be a sense of familiarity to proceedings. In fact, 10 of Carlos Dunga’s 19-man squad ply their trade in Italy’s top division. This would have been 11 out of 20 had AC Milan’s Kaka not pulled out through injury.
Of course most of the Azurri are also based in Italy. Liverpool full back Andrea Dossena is one of the six Italians based outside Serie A, and the only one currently playing in England.
Manchester City duo Robinho and Elano are the only other Premier League representatives on show, but Brazil do boast Gilberto, who left Arsenal last summer after six years with the Club.
Italy manager Marcello Lippi is 90 minutes away from setting a new record of 32 matches without defeat in charge of a national team. Ahead of tonight’s clash he discussed the importance of international friendlies to a country’s calendar.
“These matches give you the chance to recreate a group that allows you to win the World Cup,” said Lippi at Monday’s pre-match press conference. “I think it’s very good to give the players a bit of confidence and it could be a very good game.”
Brazil boss Dunga was equally unequivocal in his support for the contest, declaring that such a game allows him to blood some less-established stars.
“Friendly games can be trickier than qualifiers,” said the former World Cup-winning captain. “This is not a closed group and experience teaches us that it is very important to keep competitiveness.”
“Both teams will play to win and there will be a lot of attention on this game. It is hard to predict what will happen, it is a football game. Italy and Brazil are usually very close matches.”
That trend looks set to continue tonight. The biggest prize in world football may not await the winner of this prestigious renewal, but there is more than enough pride at stake.Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source