Brazil has yet to surrender a goal on its home turf, but the offensively efficient Italy will test that dominant streak in the two clubs’ final group-stage match of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Both will enter the showdown undefeated. The Brazilians imposed their will on their previous two opponents, shutting out Japan by the score of 3-0 and Mexico 2-0. The Italians weren’t nearly as overwhelming, but they still found ways to win games, edging Mexico by the score of 2-1 and Japan 4-3.
Something has to give.
Here is a preview and prediction for Saturday’s contest.
When: Saturday, June 22 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Where: Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
Live Stream: ESPN3
What’s At Stake?
A dread of facing off against Spain in the semifinals will fuel Brazil and Italy. Both Group A clubs have already clinched a spot in the knockout stage. Their journey to the final would just be much smoother if they were able to take on Nigeria or Uruguay rather than the Spaniards.
Spain defeated Uruguay 2-1 in its first match of the Confederations Cup, but the Spaniards dominated more than the scoreboard indicated, possessing the football 75 percent of the match. A Luis Suarez goal 88 minutes in and four Fernando Muslera saves kept the score respectable.
The scoreboard didn’t hide Spain’s supremacy against Tahiti, as Fernando Torres scored four goals in a 10-0 thrashing.
That’s the monster the Brazilians and Italians would love to avoid until the final.
When Japan scored three times against Italy, it marked the first time Gianluigi Buffon surrendered that many goals in a match since Nov. 3, 2012. Barring the Italians’ defense being equally shaky, that won’t happen again. Brazil has a brilliant goaltender of its own in Julio Cesar, who hasn’t allowed a goal in his last three starts.
Italy fields the highest scoring attack in Group A thus far, so expect it to shatter Cesar’s shutout streak, but it won’t be enough to upset Neymar and company in their house.
Prediction: Brazil 2, Italy 1
David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.