2013 Confederations Cup: Brazil vs Italy – Preview
Salvador: With top spot up for grabs and a potentially difficult clash against Spain to avoid, both Cesare Prandelli and Luiz Felipe Scolari are unlikely to make too many changes as they seek three valuable points.
Having picked up yellow cards against Mexico and Japan, Daniele De Rossi is suspended for the Azzurri whilst Andrea Pirlo is ruled out with a calf injury.
Claudio Marchisio and Alberto Aquilani are likely to deputise in the duo`s absence whilst Prandelli must also decide who to play behind Mario Balotelli.
The 55-year-old coach could opt to rest Emanuele Giaccherini with Stephan El Shaarawy, Alessandro Diamanti and Sebastian Giovinco, who scored the winning goal against Japan, all vying for starting berths.
As for Brazil, David Luiz has been declared fit to start despite breaking his nose in the 2-0 win over Mexico and there is further good news for the Selecao as the in-form Neymar has shaken off a slight thigh injury.
However, Paulinho is unlikely to be risked by Scolari after the Corinthians midfielder suffered a minor ankle sprain and his place could be taken by Lazio`s Hernanes.
Elsewhere, Hulk has failed to impress in the opening two matches and his spot on the right wing could be taken by PSG youngster Lucas Moura as Scolari looks to give some of his younger players international experience.STAT ATTACK
• Italy have not tasted victory against the Selecao for over 30 years. A Paolo Rossi hat-trick guided the Azzurri to a 3-2 win in the 1982 World Cup.
• A double from Luis Fabiano and an own goal from Andrea Dossena gave Brazil a 3-0 victory over Italy in the 2009 Confederations Cup - a tournament they later went on to win.
• A 2-1 victory against Mexico before Wednesday`s 4-3 thriller against Japan ensured that Italy advanced to the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup for the first time in their history.
• Current holders Brazil are the most successful side in the history of the tournament, with Luiz Felipe Scolari`s team bidding for their fourth title.
• The Selecao famously defeated the Azzurri on penalties to win the World Cup in 1994.
• Brazil have only suffered one competitive defeat on home soil in the last 50 years - a 3-1 defeat to Peru in Belo Horizante at the 1975 Copa America.