Brazil v Argentina - talking points

08 June 2017 03:24

Jorge Sampaoli takes charge of Argentina for the first time when they face South American rivals Brazil in a showpiece friendly on Friday.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the main talking points ahead of the match in Melbourne.

1. A new era under Sampaoli

The new manager, who quit Sevilla last week to take over the national team, has already admitted that the result of this match is secondary as he attempts to revive the fortunes of his ailing home country. He needs to hit the ground running as he is tasked with rescuing a potentially-disastrous World Cup qualifying campaign while developing a successful system which could compete should they make the finals. Friday will provide a stern test and give him a first opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a squad bereft of confidence and form following just six victories from their opening 14 qualifiers.

2. What role for Messi?

Sampaoli has suggested he is prepared to emulate Lionel Messi's club side Barcelona in order to get the best out of the 29-year-old. Speculation based on early training sessions hint that Argentina's captain and record goalscorer will be deployed just off the front in a 3-4-2-1 formation with Gonzalo Higuain as the main striker and his Juventus team-mate Paulo Dybala in the other supporting role. Messi, however, will not have much time to adapt to any tactical tinkering from his new manager. He is expected to miss the follow-up friendly with Singapore on Tuesday due to his forthcoming wedding, meaning the next time he could pull on the blue and white stripes of his country will be before the important qualifier with Uruguay at the end of August.

3. No Neymar

Brazil boss Tite has taken a strong squad to Australia but there are still some notable absentees, including Roberto Firmino, Dani Alves, Marcelo and star striker Neymar. The absence of the Barcelona forward - who has hit 52 goals across 77 caps - could reduce Brazil's attacking threat significantly, but it may also present an opportunity for Manchester City attacker Gabriel Jesus. Despite injury setbacks, the 20-year-old former Palmeiras man was in inspired form for City this season. He managed seven Premier League goals in just eight starts and has already made a strong start to his international career, striking five times in six appearances.

4. How friendly will it be?

The result of the match may have little significance but try telling that to supporters of these two football-mad nations. A bitter rivalry exists between the near-neighbours and they will be keen to claim the bragging rights following their meeting at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Brazil currently have the edge on their opponents. They top the FIFA world rankings - with Argentina in second - as well as being the only country apart from hosts Russia to have already wrapped up qualification for next summer's World Cup. With fiercely competitive players such as Chelsea defender David Luiz and Sevilla's Gabriel Mercado on the pitch, there could also be a few tasty tackles.

5. First caps for Lanzini and Jemerson?

The match could see a number of international debuts. Argentina have named nine uncapped players in their squad, including West Ham playmaker Manuel Lanzini, who ended last season with eight Premier League goals. Brazil, meanwhile, could introduce two new players. Manchester City's £35million goalkeeper Ederson will probably not feature having left the squad for the birth of his daughter, but 24-year-old centre-back Jemerson may be given game time after impressing during Monaco's Ligue 1 title success and run to the Champions League semi-finals.

Source: PA


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