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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Great South American rivals to serve up magic in Melbourne

Argentina superstar Lionel Messi
1 of 1

International friendly
11.05am Friday

The demand to take football to all parts of the globe means Brazil are taking on Argentina in Australia and the South American rivals can turn on the style at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The word friendly can be used only loosely when these nations clash on a football pitch and the best bet looks to be both teams to score, with Argentina potentially re-energised by the appointment of new manager Jorge Sampaoli from Seville. 

It may seem strange to see Brazil as slight underdogs as they have romped through World Cup qualifying and Argentina are struggling to make next summer's finals in Russia. Their last meeting in November finished 3-0 to Brazil but things have changed since then.

Neymar is not in Brazil's ranks - he is busy making appearances on American TV chat shows - and Sampaoli has lifted Argentina.

Sampaoli is expected to line-up in a 3-3-3-1 formation with the side built around Lionel Messi. It is crazily attacking with Messi, Paulo Dybala and Angel Di Maria behind Gonzalo Higuain.

Messi has stuck around for this fixture before jetting back to Argentina to get married later in the month and these could be exciting times for the Argentinian forwards, but the back three of Gabriel Mercado, Jonatan Maidana and Nicolas Otamendi won't be offering much protection to keeper Sergio Romero.

Brazil, as well as missing Neymar, will be without influential defensive players Marcelo, Dani Alves, Marquinhos and Casemiro but they still possess attacking punch with Willian, Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus in the front three.

Both teams to score
1pt 10-11 Hills

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Sampaoli is expected to line-up in a 3-3-3-1 formation with the side built around Lionel Messi
E.W. Terms
Sky bet