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Brazil and Colombia clash adds spice to friendlies Italy, Dutch meet in Bari; Japan face Uruguay

BERNE, Sept 1, (RTRS): Brazil and Colombia, the dust barely settled following their brutal World Cup quarter-final, clash again and there will also be a replay of the final as Germany host Argentina in this week’s international friendlies. Dunga begins his second stint as Brazil coach, while the return of Colombia forward Radamel Falcao and a likely meeting of Neymar and Juan Camilo Zuniga adds further spice to the match at the Sun Life stadium in Miami. Elsewhere, Gerardo Martino will take charge of Argentina for the first time since replacing Alejandro Sabella while Italy and Netherlands, who meet each other in Bari, and Japan, who face Uruguay, also start life under new coaches.

Brazil’s disastrous World Cup led to widespread calls for a fresh start and a new approach but they seem to have done the opposite by bringing back Dunga, who was in charge from 2006 to 2010 during a period when many felt that Brazil stagnated. Far from a clearout, Dunga’s first squad has included 11 players from the World Cup, among them defenders David Luiz and Marcelo who were considered two of the main culprits in the 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany.

There has even been a recall for Robinho, whose career has been on the slide for several years, as a late replacement for the injured Hulk. But critics were mildly encouraged by the selection of attacking midfielders such as Philippe Coutinho, Ricardo Goulart, Everton Ribeiro and Diego Tardelli and the absence of a lumbering target man such as Jo or Fred. Although the match on Friday is billed a friendly, Brazil’s 2-1 World Cup quarter-final win in Fortaleza left a bitter taste on both sides.
 
Colombia claimed they were bullied as the hosts committed 31 fouls while Brazil were furious after Zuniga lunged into Neymar’s back, fracturing a vertebrae and ending his participation in the competition.
Both players have been named in their respective squads. Colombia coach Jose Pekerman, who has renewed his contract until the 2018 World Cup, has kept the nucleus of the squad which performed so well in Brazil and is also able to welcome back Falcao who missed the tournament through injury.
 
Lionel Messi looks likely to miss Wednesday’s game in Dusseldorf, Argentina’s first since the World Cup final loss to Germany, after Barcelona said he suffered a hamstring strain in the 1-0 win over Villarreal on Sunday. The news was greeted with suspicion by Argentine media who pointed out that Messi played the full 90 minutes without showing any obvious signs of injury. Germany coach Joachim Loew has included 18 members of his World Cup squad while strikers Marco Reus, who missed the tournament due to injury, and Mario Gomez, who was overlooked, return.
 
Italy’s new coach Antonio Conte, faced with a rebuilding job after their group stage exit in Brazil, has dropped maverick forward Mario Balotelli against the Dutch where Guus Hiddink starts a second spell in charge at the of 67. Spain, still under Vicente del Bosque, visit France in Paris on Thursday for their first match since their group stage World Cup exit, Belgium host Australia in Brussels the same evening and two of the World Cup success stories, Chile and Mexico, meet in San Francisco on Friday. South Korea are without a coach for Venezuela’s visit to Bucheon on Friday after they were turned down by Dutchman Bert van Marwijk.
 
Instead, three local coaches will share the job including former national team midfielder Shin Tae-young. Noel Sanvincente will be in charge of the South Americans for the first time. Mexican Javier Aguirre will make his debut on the bench for Japan at home to Uruguay in Sapporo on Friday while his counterpart Oscar Tabarez will miss the game after undergoing a back operation. Uruguay have not called up Luis Suarez, banned for nine competitive internationals for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup, even though he is eligible to play in friendly matches. England are expecting their lowest Wembley attendance since the rebuilt stadium was re-opened in 2007 for Norway’s visit on Wednesday.
 
English FA general secretary Alex Horne said only the lower tier of seats will be used for an expected crowd of between 35,000 and 40,000. Troubled 2018 World Cup hosts Russia go into their friendly at home to Azerbaijan in Khimki on Wednesday amid controversy after sports minister Vitaly Mutko said that coach Fabio Capello and his staff had not been paid for three months. United States coach Juergen Klinsmann has named five uncapped young players to his squad for Wednesday’s match against the Czech Republic in Prague, plus 10 members of the World Cup squad.

 

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