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Confederations Cup kicks off: Will the Samba Boys stand up?

Brazil will get the 2013 Confederations Cup under way in a Group A clash with Japan from 2.45 pm today as they aim to show football fans what they can look forward to at next year’s World Cup tournament.

The Confederations Cup, which also features Mexico and Italy in Group A and Spain, Uruguay, Nigeria and Tahiti in Group B, will be carried live on DIRECTV.

At present, Brazil is ranked 22nd in the world—its lowest ever FIFA ranking—while countrymen have recently held street protests about the expense of playing host to the world.

But much of that discontent may be forgotten, at least temporarily, if 21-year-old attacker Neymar gets Brazil off to a flying start tomorrow.

Photo: Brazil star Neymar (right) has given his compatriots reason to dream.
Photo: Brazil star Neymar (right) has given his compatriots reason to dream.

“I’m a cool guy. I don’t care about pressure,” said Neymar, who recently signed a five-year deal with Barcelona. “I always try to keep it normal, even with all praise and criticism. It’s up to me and my teammates to guide the Selecao to important titles.”
Brazil fans should be warned not to take their Asian opponents too lightly. Japan is ranked at a more modest 32nd in the world but is the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup after strolling through the qualifying stage.

Japan got out of a tough opening group at the 2010 World Cup ahead of Cameroon and Denmark and has a genuine star too in the form of Manchester United attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa.

Photo: Japan and Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa (right) in action against Bulgaria.
Photo: Japan and Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa (right) in action against Bulgaria.

Former Brazil legend and Japan coach, Zico, expects a memorable opening game

“There’s every chance of this game being one of the toughest ever between the two sides, and that’s for two reasons,” Zico told FIFA.com. “Firstly, the Japanese are getting stronger all the time, with more and more players in leagues like Germany, Italy, England and Russia. Secondly, Brazil are still looking for their best starting XI and the right formation.

“Now that they’ve reached the World Cup, the Japanese should be more relaxed going into the game, though I think they still find it hard going against South American sides. All in all, it should be a fascinating game.”

 

Editor’s Note: You can follow the action on DIRECTV by clicking here

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