View Full Version : Head-2-Head: South America's finest face off

06-08-05, 01:18 PM
Wednesday 8 June, 21:45 (local time)
Estadio Monumental, Buenos Aires (65,645 spectators)
Argentina-Brazil, South American Zone, 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany?
Argentina and Brazil will bring their simmering rivalry to the fore on Wednesday 8 June, as these two titans square up in front of a packed stadium in Buenos Aires with FIFA World Cup? qualifying points at stake. With Germany 2006 just around the corner, the stars on both sides will be looking to light up the night sky in this much anticipated match. Read on as we take a closer look at what is always an emotionally charged encounter.

Previous meetings: food for thought

Such is the rivalry between Argentina and Brazil that they cannot even agree on the statistics of the games between the two sides. The Argentine Football Association's (AFA) set of records are different from those held by the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF). Using the South American qualifying games as a reference point, the Brazilians come out ahead with two victories in three games, winning 3-1 in both 2000 and 2004. The other game, and the only one to be played in Buenos Aires, was a 2-1 win for Argentina in 2001.

However, the Seleção struggle in the Argentine capital and have to go back nearly ten years for their last victory there, in a friendly played on 8 November 1995. The last match between the two sides anywhere was the final of the Copa America Peru 2004, which saw Carlos Alberto Parreira's Brazil take the game 4-2 on penalties after an enthralling 2-2 draw.

Argentina: a team in transition

In spite of leading their qualifying group, the Argentina team is going through a period of transition. As coach Jose Pekerman tells FIFAworldcup.com: "We no longer have any players who are guaranteed a starting place in any position. We've not been working together for long, but this group of players knows that every game takes us one step closer to finding the right mix ahead of the World Cup." The coach's words reinforce what many observers have witnessed during the team's last few performances: the side is full of highly-talented individuals, but still needs work to be able to function well as a unit. Against a rival as strong as Brazil, this flaw could be exposed at key moments of the game.

Brazil: vulnerable away from home

Despite only having lost one game away from home, Brazil have been much less effective on their travels. For the record, they have won two, drawn five and lost one of their away ties so far, picking up less than half the points available. The Brazilian press made a point of this after the draw in Uruguay and accused the team of being "insufficiently savvy" in tricky away games. Parreira jumped straight to the defence of the team that ground out a point in Montevideo, saying he had "never seen a more attacking Brazil side". Speaking to FIFAworldcup.com he attempted to play down talk of his team's inconsistency: "For us, the hardest part of the World Cup is getting there. We Brazilians need to spend plenty of time together as a group to generate the right atmosphere." He will be looking to steady the ship against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

The key: which stars will shine?

With players of the calibre of Hernan Crespo, Ronaldinho, Juan Roman Riquelme, Kaka, Pablo Aimar and Adriano on display, it should be a match of the highest quality. The difference between these two sides may well come down to which of their superstars can keep a cool head in the heated atmosphere of the Estadio Monumental. No doubt the tactical scheming of Carlos Parreira and Jose Pekerman, as well as the 60,000 or so fans in attendance, will play some part in deciding the outcome. It is also worth noting that both teams can also count on a host of world-class players on the bench who could make a late entrance and turn the game.

What is at stake: footballing pride, no more no less

Victory for either team on Wednesday will secure their qualification for Germany 2006. Even without this incentive, of course, pride alone would guarantee a keenly fought contest in this continental classic. "Beating Brazil always gives us a shot in the arm. Hopefully we can win and make our fans happy," says Argentina striker Hernan Crespo. Brazil's Ronaldinho has no illusions about the size of the task ahead: "It's going to be a very tough game, as always when we take on Argentina in Buenos Aires." The cards have been dealt. The teams are ready. Argentina versus Brazil with the winner qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, does it get any bigger than this?

As the world's teams compete for a place at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany?, we at FIFAworldcup.com have made it our mission to bring all the emotion of international football even closer to our supporters via real time retransmission by MatchCast. Browse through the best qualifying games and check out all the statistics, the incidents, and expert editorial commentary in four languages, all at the touch of a button. Don't forget to visit our site on 8 June to follow the Argentina-Brazil clash LIVE.