Confed Cup: Brazil, Italy battle for supremacy

Top spot in FIFA Confederations Cup Group A is at stake when Brazil
take on Italy at the Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova on Saturday.
The teams go into the match having won their two opening fixtures and
will be keen to seal top spot in the group so as to avoid a likely
semi-final meeting with world champions, Spain.
Brazil kicked off their campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win over Japan
and followed that up with a rather less convincing 2-0 victory against
Mexico, which was only sealed by Jo’s goal in the dying seconds.
Italy, meanwhile, began the tournament with a 2-1 win against the
Mexicans before emerging 4-3 victors in a thrilling encounter with
Japan on Wednesday.
The sides last met in March and shared a 2-2 draw as second-half goals
from Daniele De Rossi and Mario Balotelli cancelled out strikes from
Fred and Oscar in the first period.
However, that fixture was played on the neutral ground of Switzerland.
But this time around, Brazil will be roared on by a partisan home
crowd when the pair do battle again.
If they are to capitalise on that advantage, the hosts will need
Barcelona’s new-boy, Neymar, to continue his fine run of form.
The 21-year-old has scored superb goals in each of Brazil’s first two
fixtures and also provided an eye-catching assist for Jo in the win
over Mexico.
But as proved by their win over Japan in a game they had hardly
contributed to, Italy are an incredibly difficult team to beat.
Cesare Prandelli’s men have not lost a game since suffering defeat at
the hands of France in November 2012 – a run that accounts for eight
They also boast the talents of Balotelli among their ranks, with the
Milan striker equalling Neymar’s record of netting in both of his
side’s opening games.