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Michael Taylor 9th Feb 2009 - 14:54

Brazil always a tough nut to crack

Brazil face Italy in an international friendly on Tuesday evening and, despite a striker shortage, the Samba stars will fancy their chances of grabbing a result against an age old rival.

The two most successful teams in World Cup history should guarantee one hell of a match as the mind games start early in the build up to South Africa 2010 - a tournament both nations will feel confident of winning.

Italy's Coach Marcello Lippi is one such person who recognises the importance of this friendly and has fired out a scathing attack on the match planners, claiming that the match should not have been scheduled just two days after Italian Serie A fixtures.

The respected 2006 World Cup winning manager said "it's a game of great prestige, but it's a shame we are playing on Tuesday,

"Two of the most successful national sides in the world are meeting, with all our best players, and to play it 48 hours after the league matches means we will clearly lose something."

He does have a good point but in reality there is more to fear for the Italians than the match time as Brazil look well placed to put them to the sword at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium.

The five-time world champions Brazil are lacking Serie A based duo Kaka and Amauri through injury meaning that AC Milan's young starlet Alexandre Pato could start in attack alongside Man City's Robinho.

And while Pato has not blossomed in the famous yellow shirt, Robinho certainly has and looks a great bet at 6/1 to score the first goal of the game against Italy's solid but ageing defence.

Although it easy to see why Robinho is so prolific when he is supported by a team full world class players, such as Elano, Maicon and Daniel Alves, that can carve up even the tightest of defences when they click

At the other end of the pitch, Lippi will most likely start Bayern Munich's Luca Toni as a lone striker and it will be up to him to hold the ball up and bring an impressive looking midfield of Pirlo, De Rossi and Camoranesi into the final third.

It won't be easy for Toni though, as Brazil finally look to have overcome the defensive issues that plagued them throughout the last World Cup with Lucio and Juan settled at centre back and Alves sparkling from his right back position.

Brazil start the game as 5/4 favourites to win the game and at that price look great value especially on the immaculate playing surface at the Emirates, while the 15/8 about Italy looks difficult to back as it is hard to see where their goals will come from.

The correct score market is far more troublesome to predict and will no doubt come down to how Brazil's stars fire and how much of the ball Italy's midfield can muster - or, taking Lippi's side, how fresh their players are!

Either way it is hard to imagine a high scoring affair and, for me, the most enticing price is the 8/1 about a 2-0 Brazil win.

Whatever the score though, the action will be unmissable.

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