On Thursday in Geneva, international football heavyweights Brazil and Italy will go head-to-head in a friendly match that will serve as a test run for their Group A meeting at the FIFA Confederations Cup on June 22.
Brazil, who have won the last two Confederations Cups and also triumphed in the 1997 installment, will be taking the tournament more seriously than the seven other participants, as their status as 2014 World Cup hosts guarantees them a place in world football’s centrepiece event 15 months from now.
They have not played a senior competitive match since losing to The Netherlands in South Africa, and when they open the Confederations Cup against Japan in Brasilia on June 15, nearly three years will have passed since that quarterfinal defeat.
The Confederations Cup is also a test run for the World Cup organizing committee, for the host country’s infrastructure and the readiness of the facilities. The stadiums in Fortaleza and Belo Horizonte are the only completed venues, which leaves the grounds in Recife, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia in need of work over the next three months.
Brazil are scheduled to re-open the renovated Maracana against England on June 2.
(A complete rundown of the World Cup stadiums was recently compiled by our own Chris Atkins.)
Aside from the hosts and the Italians, Japan and Mexico are also in the Confederations Cup’s Group A, while Spain, Uruguay, Nigeria and Tahiti complete Group B.
Here are Bleacher Report’s Confederations Cup Power Rankings, organized in ascending order from eighth to first.