‘Brazil v Argentina is never a friendly’ – rivals set for Saudi Arabia clash

Brazil and Argentina take their rivalry to Saudi Arabia this week, with both managers insisting Tuesday’s clash is a friendly in name only.

The South American rivals are both continuing their post-World Cup rebuilding in an exhibition tournament in the Middle East.

Argentina endured a troubled summer in Russia, with rumours of dressing room unrest and poor performances culminating in a last-16 exit to eventual champions France. Brazil went one round further before losing to Belgium.

Argentina sacked coach Jorge Sampaoli after the tournament and appointed the former Lazio player Lionel Scaloni as his replacement on a temporary basis.

Scaloni has since overseen a comfortable victory over Guatemala, a draw against Colombia and, last Thursday in Riyadh, a 4-0 defeat of Iraq. He expects Tuesday’s meeting in Jeddah to be a considerable step up.

Scaloni, who had a brief playing spell at West Ham in 2006, told reporters: “Playing against Brazil always has a special feel to it, whether it’s football, basketball or any other sport.

“You always want to beat somebody who is wearing that (Brazil) shirt. When they say ‘friendly’ that may be how they feel, however we feel something else.”

Argentina are without five-time world player of the year Lionel Messi, who is taking a break from international football. Experienced trio Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria are also sitting out the tournament as Scaloni assesses different options.

Brazil, by contrast, have a host of big names available including Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.

They beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 last Friday with goals from Gabriel Jesus and Alex Sandro, although coach Tite was not happy with the performance.

He said: “We were not convincing . We won because he had creativity up front and that was it.

“Brazil versus Argentina is never a friendly. We hope to be better for that.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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