When the draw for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
was completed, Italy and host Brazil were favoured to advance to the semifinals from Group A.
On Wednesday, that was realized, with both nations securing victories to top the table
with six points apiece and earn berths in the semifinals. The Brazilians have not conceded a goal to this point, while scoring five of their own, and the Italians have scored the most goals (six) but also conceded on four occasions, for a plus-two differential.
The two nations will square off in Salvador, Bahia on Sunday (CBCSports.ca
, 2:45 p.m. ET) to determine who wins Group A and potentially decide who avoids Spain in the semifinals. Brazil currently tops the table based on goal differential and the Azzurri will require a victory to leapfrog Brazil and secure the top spot.
After a strong opening 2-1 win against Mexico
in Rio, the Azzurri looked sluggish and out of form before rallying for a 4-3 win
over a very lively Japan squad. Speaking to Rai Sport after the game, manager Cesare Prandelli said, "The humidity is something we have to deal with, as it really is difficult. I don't know what performance we can put in against Brazil. The humidity and heat is unbearable, so we have to figure out how to deal with it."
It is for this reason that Prandelli has many difficult decisions to make in the lead-up to the Brazil game. Does he rest some of his first-choice selections, including Chiellini, Barrzagli, Motolivo and Balotelli, or does he risk them in hopes of beating Brazil and potentially avoiding Spain in the semifinals?
Andrea Pirlo is already out
with an injury and Danielle DeRossi will miss out because of a suspension.
Rest is an advantage the semifinalists from Group B will have on their counterparts. Spain was able to make wholesale changes in its commanding 10-0 win over Tahiti
and Uruguay is expected to do the same on Sunday, only needing a single point to advance provided Spain beat Nigeria.
Italy and Brazil last met earlier this year in a friendly in Geneva, playing to a 2-2 draw, with Italy coming back from a two-goal deficit.
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