Ahead of their Confederations Cup Group A meeting on Saturday,both Italy and Brazil face injury worries in the centre of midfield. Both teams have already ensured a spot in the semifinals,but the match will decide the group winner. Because they possess a better goal difference than Italy,Brazil could finish first in the group with a draw at the Arena Fonte Nova,meaning they will likely avoid world and European champions Spain,who currently lead Group B.
Italys star midfielder Andrea Pirlo will miss the game against Brazil with a strained right leg muscle,adding to coach Cesare Prandellis problems in the centre of the pitch. Italy team physician Enrico Castellacci says he hopes Pirlo can return for the semifinals. But combined with the absence of Daniele De Rossi,who will also miss the Brazil game because of two yellow cards,it means coach Cesare Prandelli will have to overhaul his lineup. The absences mean Alberto Aquilani,who only lasted 30 minutes against Japan,could return to the lineup,as could Antonio Candreva and Alessio Cerci.
Brazils doctor,meanwhile,says its too early to know if defensive midfielder Paulinho will recover in time from a left ankle sprain. Jose Luiz Runco said on Thursday that although the injury is not serious,it could keep the player from being fully fit to face the Azzuri.
Runco also said that defender David Luiz would undergo tests on his nose after he injured it during Brazils 2-0 win over Mexico on Wednesday,but is expected to play against Italy regardless of the extent of the injury. The Chelsea defender was hit in the face while going for a high ball in the first half of the match against Mexico. He had to stay out of the game for nearly 10 minutes as doctors worked to contain the bleeding. It was a bit swollen when he woke up,but even if the tests show that he has a broken nose,he will be able to play, Runco said.
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Paulinho,who scored a goal in Brazils 3-0 win over Japan in the opener,was also hurt in the game against Mexico in Fortaleza on Wednesday. The ankle is still hurting and swollen,but we dont need to have him undergo tests, Runco said. We will monitor the injury and later on we will determine whether he can play on Saturday.
Runco dismissed any problems with star striker Neymar,who was limping after the Mexico game and showed up at the post-match press conference with ice wrapped around his right thigh. He got hit in the leg but its nothing serious, he said. He will be fine. Neymar scored a goal in each of Brazils first two matches.
Brazil assistant coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is likely to avoid using players who were not fully fit,hoping to have them ready for the semifinals.
Weve talked about the possibility of resting some players, said Parreira,who was Brazils coach when they won their fourth World Cup title in 1994. But we havent made a decision yet. We will see closer to the match.
After Brazils match on Wednesday,and before knowing that Brazil had already secured a spot in the semifinals,Scolari had said he would use the same eleven that started the first two matches. The match against Mexico marked the first time since 2007 that Brazil fielded the same 11 starters in three consecutive matches.